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From my LiveJournal, written by me about an hour or two ago:

"...And I am worried. My friend in NYC is missing. He is a painter. He sells paintings in SoHo in front of the Swatch store on West Broadway. His name is Lawrence. I haven't been able to get a hold of him, all his phone numbers are disconnected now. I even tried emailing him, he hasn't gotten in touch with me. With the winter and only being able to sell on the street I fear he may have lost the roof over his head. If any of you girls in NYC go to SoHo and someone's willing to check on him for me on the weekend (because you are going there anyways), please see if he's out there selling and ask him if everything is ok... I would greatly appreciate it. Otherwise I think I might have to get on a plane soon, because I haven't been able to get a hold of him for months and this is not normal...."

My friend died and I didn't even know he did. And I don't understand why nobody told me! I called him throughout late november and december and january and even yesterday too. I've been trying to get a hold of him, just to see how he was holding up during the winter and to talk about the things we always do. It's very hard for him during the winter as he's out on the street in SoHo selling his paintings on the weekends. I was really trying very hard to not worry and that he's just probably having tough times but I decided yesterday that I can't take it anymore and if I don't get a hold of him I am going to jump on a plane and look for him. No matter how bad things get I always hear from him as soon as he knows I'm looking for him and he had to know I was by now.

I even called my Ex (or boyfriend? who knows?) yesterday. I asked him if he knows any great gallery owners out here personally that I can call and see if I could do something for Lawrence out here and I called a few buyers that I know that I had paintings priced for in the past.

Really I had just thought Lawrence ran out of money again and didn't pay the phone bill.

As I attempted to email him again and looked at the address, I decided I was going to visit his website and look at his work since I'm thinking of him. I sent the email and went to his site to only find this....

www.lawillette.com

I can't even explain how it feels to find out on the internet that my friend has died.

He was a very good friend to me and we've known eachother for a long time, he's been there with me from the very beginning. I remember he insisted that I keep one of my books with him and he'd show to photographers that he'd meet, but by the time he had a copy of my book I was forced to come back to Los Angeles and have been living here ever since. He was willing to do whatever he could to hold me up in NYC everytime I'd come and I don't know how or where I deserved a great devoted friend like this. I never asked for a thing, but the little he had... he had a whole lot to give. He was the only friend I've ever had that I can honestly say his heart mirrored mine and the perfect friend I always hoped I'd find one day.

I don't ever want to go to NYC ever again, because sitting on the couch watching him paint all night long where we just talk all night is what I love most about NYC. And hearing stories about his beautiful daughter "Emily" and what new things she's learned. And I'd come over and help him clean his apartment, because it was always such a mess and I'd tell him "When is the last time you cleaned this place?!" And he'd laugh and say "NEVER!" And he always had a natural cure for everything. He got me started on Milk Thistle.... since I am a smoker like him, he believed it fought cancer. Everytime I was sick, he'd open his book of natural cures and tell me what to do... they always worked, but I guess not for cancer. :( The day he was happiest I remember was the day Emiliana was born. I remembered that I called Anna Belluz's house to see how everything was going and how she was feeling... she was in labor at that moment. He was frazzled and so excited. And Anna had a big smile on her face he said.

A famous photographer, he never remembered who, but this photographer was getting rid of things he found no value to. He gave Lawrence stacks of agency books. Lawrence loved those books, he saved them for years. One day I was helping him clean his apartment, as he's very allergic to dust, and found the books. He saw my excitement when I opened a few of them. I finished cleaning he told me to take the books. He said, "I am glad you like them, because I was going to throw them away." I later realized that he loved those books and he wouldn't throw them away ever regardless of what he told me. I have his paintings, but I haven't yet had them stretched and framed, they are still rolled and kept in a safe place. The funniest thing was when his bookshelf was about to break into pieces, I bought him a new one. He went on and on and on for days about this stupid bookshelf I bought for him. I would laugh, it wasn't a big deal and thought he was silly, but to him it was a big deal. I have stacks of his magazines. The Metropolitan MUSE, is worth so much more to me than the Visionaires I collect. And now I'm never going to stop crying. He also had a newsletter called The Metropolitan Willette Gazette which was shortened to just The Willette Gazette. The Metropolitan MUSE with a cover price of $20 everybody who had a chance to see one, they bought one... this included a large list of celebrities... even some who didn't own a painting of his were great supporters of his underground magazine.

I'd send him boxes of vintage shoes and scarves I'd find, he'd paint on them and sell them. When that loser at JFK stole my shoes out of my suitcase, two of the shoes were indeed the ones he painted for me... and were not able to be replaced as they were vintage and you don't find the same shoe ever. It took me months to find those shoes and within days... they were stolen from me. I truly was heartbroken. I have many pairs in my closet and I'd never tell any of my stylist and editor friends who'd drool over them where I got them. Lawrence knew that was just somewhere I'm never going to go and he'd just roar out laughing.

He was an artist, in every sense of the word. He loved fashion too. He had sketches of shoe designs he hoped to one day raise the money to start, I too was trying so hard to save money so that I can help him. He had exquisite taste in shoes, I remember being shocked when I first met him and he put a pair of shoes on me. This guy knew shoes.

He was my friend, one of my best friends. He also was one of the few NYC painters who could afford to live in Manhattan. He scraped by, but he was there. I can't say that his life was finished. Because it wasn't, there was so much he wanted to do and I am very angry that his life was taken away from him when he wanted to do so much. Maybe I just don't understand. I'd trade everything I own and every penny to my name if I was just able to say to him what I didn't even get a chance to. Which would be the neverending phone conversation because I have a million and one things to tell him always. I don't like it that I didn't get to say goodbye to someone who was so important to me and I seriously don't like it how I found out about his death.

I hear his voice in my head and I start to cry all over again. I don't have any of his voicemails saved on my phone and I wish I did so I could never forget his voice. The way it has now ended feels so incomplete and it hasn't hit me yet... but it's on it's way from the east coast to the west coast.

I can talk forever about Lawrence, he really was a great influence in my life, was absolutely fascinating and there are too many stories to tell... I just wish that he could be around longer because I do need him. He can not be replaced and I wanted him to be in my life as my friend forever.

On the site it says that he died of cancer. I had first thought it was lung cancer, but it was not. I wondered where this sudden passion to quit smoking came from, I woke up one day and decided I feel like quitting... on February 4th (my 27th birthday)... but I blew it last night. I planned to try again tomorrow, but I went outside and couldn't find my cigarettes. I found them on the floor as if they were knocked off the table. I didn't do it and maybe that was a sign... from him to stop now. Those of you who smoke (CHRISTIAN!) I'd really like you to join me in quitting.

And one last thing. He use to find great pleasure in reading Don's writings and loved his photography. Lawrence was an outstanding writer as well as an incredible painter, and loved taking pictures.

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Shows & Events Location, Prices, etc...
  • 10 Jan 1977
    Painted Women 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM

    L.A. Willette @ Westbeth Painters Space

  • 09 Nov 1978
    Waiting for the Dough 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM

    A new play by Lawrence Willette. Thurs thru Sat at 11 p.m. 11/9-25 (no perf on Thanksgiving). $3 (691-2272).

  • 05 Sep 1979
    Destined Arts Inc. 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM

    Westbeth Painter's Gallery presents New Paintings & Drawings L.A. Willette P. Micheal Laura Rudin Phil Cody September 5 - October 5, 1979 Opening at 9.00 p.m.

  • 10 Jan - 06 Oct
  • 25 Jul - 23 Nov
  • 01 Feb - 03 May
  • 14 Jul - 23 Jul