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BILL WALTON

West Main 111, Bill Walton from the collection of Larry Spaid
West Main 111, Bill Walton from the collection of Larry Spaid

 

Philadelphia artist Bill Walton died in early 2010. As an artist, teacher and friend he left behind a dedicated group of fellow artists. This exhibit consists solely of his work that was given, traded, or, in some cases bequeathed, to those artists.

Walton’s art approaches ‘minimal’ but he works too hard to appear incidental to fit into that category. His construction of happenstance is as important a recognition of nature as are the inclusion of natural materials. These small works combine found and manipulated materials, often tenuously balanced, and seem both familiar and curious. Their power is in the intelligent orchestration of patina and polish or weight and drape. The recognition of materials, the witty way parts are assembled, and the immediacy of the visual experience are supported by meticulous craft and calculation. Scale and time are also important factors. Walton did not date work and felt little reserve at changing a piece at any moment. Small work was accessible, inexpensive to make and easy to store, as well as a calculated denial of the trend to huge. Both these qualities made it possible for him to share work and conversation with his cohort. What Walton valued in making work and conversation was combining the known and the obvious to discover something new, or even more obvious but never seen before.

Over the course of his career Walton became disenchanted with the commercial commodification of art. He felt that the curiosity, exploration, and discovery that he valued in making art had become perverted by market pressure and he removed himself from that world to concentrate his relationships among other artists, craftspeople, and fishing pals. This show is his side of that conversation.

Bill Walton taught printmaking for many years at Moore College of Art. His work has been exhibited at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Art, The ICA, Phila., White Box Gallery, NYC, Margaret Thatcher Projects, NYC, Locks Gallery, Phila., Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Phila., and many others. His estate is represented by The Fleisher-Ollman Gallery, Phila. Bill Walton, designed by Walton and edited by Richard Torchia, was published by Arcadia University in 2006.