by Arnie Fenner
|Allen Williams, photo © Greg Preston|
The concept of "community" is one I've discussed frequently through the years. When it comes to artists, well, it really isn't an easy idea to get across. By their nature, artists are...different. Yeah, sure, we've always heard the "arty types" description (often accompanied with an eye roll) applied to us and it's hard to not entirely disagree sometimes. Artists are unique and they're not exactly predictable. They see things, think things, do things in ways that non-artists often have a hard time comprehending. They're sometimes outsiders, sometimes introverts, sometimes gregarious party-hardy alpha dogs, but always individualists.
And as an independent lot…well...they're rarely joiners. That's one of the reasons why, though there are a number or artist organizations in existence (some decidedly more reputable than others), their membership is only the tiniest of fractions of the number of creatives working today. The old Groucho Marx line, "Any club that would have me as a member, I wouldn't want to join!" seems to apply.
But there are also exceptions—there are always exceptions—as Iain McCaig, Karla Ortiz, Christian and Andrea Alzmann proved last week as they reached out to the community on behalf of Allen and Vicki Williams and their family. I'll let them explain:
On February 23rd, 2015, Award-winning Illustrator, Concept Artist, Writer, Husband and Father of two Allen Williams posted on Facebook:
"I feel a little like I'm naming Voldemort here but...I need to say I have recently been diagnosed with HPV related squamous cell carcinoma. The two-month cure will surely be hard, but it will be the cure that causes difficulty, not the actual disease...somehow, I just have to get through this gate of fire."
Physically, Allen is hanging in there. But as he predicted, it's the cure that is causing difficulty. As well as fighting cancer, he and his wife Vicki are having to battle insurance companies to pay their hospital bills. And it is not a fight they are winning.
The price tag for surviving the cancer lodged in his neck is $50,000. It includes a tonsilectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. An ER visit for an unexpected fever and a dangerously low white blood cell count. Out-of-pocket expenses for a speech therapist for Allen's 'swallow exercises' so he doesn't lose the ability to eat. The list goes on and on.
In his Facebook posting, Allen said, "I spend most of my days drawing and painting and I've included everyone in that aspect of my life. I would feel somehow dishonest if I didn't share this as well."
Now, Allen needs your help to get him through this ordeal and back to his drawing board, without his having to haul a debt the size of a small house with him.
As an artist and human being, Allen Williams is beloved. He has given so much of his art, inspiration, friendship, and time to us all. Let's return the favor and help him now when he and his family need it most.
Strength and honor.
—Iain McCaig, Karla Ortiz, Christian and Andrea Alzmann
No matter how much money any of us make in our lifetimes, no matter how well insured we are, dealing with an accident, an illness, or a disease is horribly expensive and often financially crippling. The worries about paying the bills that arrive like clockwork from unsympathetic healthcare providers add to the stress and impede recovery. The Go Fund Me account that Iain, Karla, Christian, and Andrea started for the Williams family is an attempt to alleviate some—just some—of that stress.
Of course there are many in today's world in need. Of course we can't help everyone. Wouldn't it be nice if we could? Allen and Vicki did not ask for our aid: his friends stepped up of their own volition. That's what friends do; that's what a caring community does. If one family can be helped—if we can render even the smallest amount of aid and comfort to a single member of our tribe—then the community as a whole is strengthened. The entire Fantastic Art community—and, yes, we are one—is enriched and grows.
We're planning on doing something at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4 this weekend to add to the goodness. Our Event Organizer Shena Wolf (as if she didn't already have a lot on her plate) will be coordinating with all the guests, exhibitors, and attendees to "do our part." Once it's completed, I'll share the details with everyone here.