Over a period of fifty years, William T. Wiley has distinguished himself as an artist whose extensive body of work has consistently defied mainstream contemporary art. As one of the most well-known and celebrated California artists alive today, his work has been seen in the Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, Documenta V and the Carnegie International. In 1979 the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis presented a retrospective in celebration of the Museum’s opening and thirty years later, in 2009, the Smithsonian American Art Museum honored him with another wide ranging retrospective that was seen both in Washington DC and at the Berkeley Art Museum. Joann Mose, co-curator of this retrospective wrote, “This exhibition…affirms his significance as an artist of national stature whose accomplishment resonates well beyond the region in which he has chose to live and time period when he first achieved recognition.”
In spite of his international recognition, Wiley’s activist political and social spirit and his early commitment to the environment render him an essentially Bay Area artist. Peter Selz, Co Curator and Professor Emeritus of Modern Art at UC Berkeley writes that Wiley, working in his Woodacre studio in West Marin, “creates innovative, highly personal works of art in many media that combine a personal sense of irony with commanding craftsmanship. Painting for Wiley is intertwined with language. Word and image seduce the viewer to experience the unexpected.”
With titles such as, “No Bell Prys for Peace with Predator Drone,” “Abstraction Interrupted by leaky Wicks,” and “The Easter Eye Lands,” his playful sensibility and sense of humor contribute to his unique ability to confront complicated and multi-faceted components of politics, art, and the human condition in accessible and multi-layered ways.
Kate Eilertsen, Director for Sonoma Valley Museum of Art says, “Spanning media from music to painting and from poetry to watercolor, Wiley is an artist that uses his great wit to express his controversial opinions. He can make you laugh and cry in the same moment.”
A feature of this exhibition is the full-scale mock up of a wall in his studio, replete with drawings, watercolors, and notes, creating an atmosphere wherein visitors can experience and engage with Wiley’s artwork not merely visually and intellectually, but physically as well. Several interactive projects and games will be available for people of all ages, making the exhibition filled with inspiration and a great spirit of fun.
About the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art:
Established in 1998, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a membership supported 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that provides seasonal exhibitions of contemporary and modern art and educational and public programming for children, youth and adults. Its mission is to be, “a magnet of creative energy and cultural inspiration with exhibitions and educational programs that engage the community in the art and ideas of our time, encouraging curiosity and innovation.”
The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is located at 551 Broadway, one half block up from Sonoma’s historic Plaza. Regular Museum hours are 11am–5pm Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults. Children k–12 are admitted free, as are SVMA members. Additional information is available at https://www.svma.org
or by calling (707) 939-7862.