William T. Wiley - Charmin Billy
American, b.1937
Charmin Billy, 2006
Photogravure with burnishing, softground etching and spitbite aqautint, 22 x 30 inches
Edition of 80
Landfall Press

Alumni Gift

A look at the work of William T. Wiley reveals an honest love of the land and a genuine child-like interest in minutia. This quality in turn is reflected in Wiley's style. In his two-dimensional works there are unmistakable references to comic strips, coloring books and children's book illustrations. Applied to the adult world of landscape painting, mysticism and ecology his pieces create an off-balance, fresh quality that is part of Wiley's distinction. He likes to write all over his work--to include passages from logs, or notebooks, or fragments from letters to or from friends.
William T. Wiley's work spans painting, sculpture, watercolor, set design, and filmmaking. He made his first prints in 1972 at Landfall Press in Wiley: A Decade of Prints. A committed printmaker, he has worked at Crown Point Press frequently since 1978. He participated in the group exhibition Committed to Print at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1988. In September 2007, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco organized and exhibited a William T. Wiley print retrospective at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

In November of 2006, Bill Wiley went to Crown Point Studio to work with their master printers and he took a Xerox copy of a photo of himself as a boy. He couldn't find the original photo, he said, but liked the grainy Xerox quality. He'd never done a photogravure print before, and wanted to try it. "Blow it up as big as you can get it," he said. Wiley made Billy into art by painting his face in a red-yellow-blue design. Billy's face is detailed realistically, and on the floor by Billy's chair is a little Ubu Roi figure with a spiral on his belly, just as Alfred Jarry, the French writer, drew him a hundred and ten years ago. "And so, Ubu," Wiley wrote under the figure. Billy has a spiral on his stomach in the editioned prints and in most of the Charmin Billy Monoland, a series of 23 photogravures with hand-coloring by the artist.