“Bill’s Rules” – The Unstereotypical Art of Billy Schenck

We attended an exhibition of painter Bill Schenck’s work at Altamira Fine Arts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming last Summer.  He was featured in a 3-artist show, including Logan Mawell Hagage and Glenn Dean, however we were able (and privileged) to speak only with Bill Schenck about his work and our reactions to it.

He and the other two painters clearly “pull” from Maynard Dixon and Herbert Dunton in their art, sometimes paint together, and both Dean and Hagage might just look up a bit to the slightly elder (or is it because he is much taller!) Schenck.

Annies Sky (c)Bill Schenck  from www.art.gov

Annies Sky (c)Bill Schenck from http://www.art.gov

Bill Schenck’s biography states that he is “a contemporary American painter who incorporates techniques from Photo-Realism with a Pop Art sensibility to both exalt and poke fun at images of the West. Like the heroes he idolized in B-Westerns, Schenck might well be called the “Good Badman” of Western American art.  Early in his career, he became known for appropriating cinematic imagery, which he reproduced in a flattened, reductivist style.”  (His full biography, written by Julie Sasse, Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Art, can be found on his SchenckSouthwest site in the “Links” section of this page).

The “Good Badman” of Western American art!

We noted that brush strokes were evident in very few of Bill’s exhibited paintings, only in those that included clouds, and then only in the clouds!  I asked him about that new, distinctive difference in his work.  Bill was startled, stating that no one had previously noticed that new stylistic direction, and so this was a profound question.

As one who came back to art, to Western art, with a “pop art” cast originating in his working for Any Warhol in New York when Bill was in his 20’s, despite later success followed by self-assessment and a several year sabbatical from painting Bill Schenck found a new enthusiasm that sent him back into painting with a passion.  The seed of that enthusiasm was planted by an early collector who, after many years, tracked him down and commissioned new work.

That sabbatical separated him from the stereotyping applied by art critics and commercial market pressures that demanded specific products in specific styles from him, similar to demands on many successful artists, regardless of creative bent or maturing of form and style over the years.  “They” demand, “No, you must not change” — or else.

Who rules?  Bill Rules!

Bill shared the catalyst for his then-newfound enthusiasm in response to my observation, and concluded  “I learned at long last that I can paint in accordance with ‘Bill’s Rules'”.

"Lost" (c)Bill Schenck

"Lost" (c)Bill Schenck

As someone who most often signs his blogposts as “Randy’sRules”, I understood, even though I have not yet allowed myself that degree of liberty from stereotypes applied to my work by others in the past, which I still use to unjustly limit – or drive – my work.

Are you held there as well?  Is the creativity and enthusiasm that brought you into your art, craft or profession and to public notice now captive to its demands?  It is now time to move on, in fealty to

Your artistic rules!


About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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1 Response to “Bill’s Rules” – The Unstereotypical Art of Billy Schenck

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