Wilhelmi Wilhelmi's works return to
Art Museum for retrospective show

By MARSHALL ANDERSON

Click image to see larger view
Wilhelmi
Sacramental Icon, II
Sacrificial Icon, III
-stoneware
Wilhelmi
Banana Leaf Motif Urn, 1988
-earthenware
Wilhelmi
Non-nimbus number nine, 1973
-earthenware
Wilhelmi
Saint Ignatius at Palacios, 1977
-earthenware
Wilhelmi
Naked Mah-Jongg Lamp, 1983
-earthenware
The clay's the thing with which artist Bill Wilhelmi has caught the attention of the art world and the general public.

In acknowledgement of Wilhelmi's standing, the Art Museum of South Texas is housing a retrospective exhibition, "William Wilhelmi: The Clay's the Thing," through June 2.

Wilhelmi -- whose commissioned work includes the tile floor in the City Hall central rotunda (with artist Greg Reuter) and the sesquicentennial mural at the Whataburger near Carancahua and Leopard -- was the first local artist to have a one-person show at the art museum, says museum publicist Melissa Goodson.

"He has lived in Corpus Christi for a long time and contributed a lot to the area, so it's nice to have him back," Goodson says. "He has a new set of ceremonial icons that he created specifically for this exhibit that are influenced by the monster images he has created.

"Most of his pieces are functional, like plates, mugs and candelabras, and even many of his monsters are functional. I see him doing these pieces as a special tribute to the museum."

Wilhelmi says his original exhibit at the art museum in 1973 was a memorable one.

"Andy Warhol was here at the opening and I got to meet him," Wilhelmi says. "He went around taking pictures of people and then giving them the pictures, but I was able to have my picture taken with him.

"He was surrounded by his entourage but he was very pleasant. I'd ask him a question and someone in his group would answer for him."

Wilhelmi's fame extended well beyond that 1973 exhibit. He went on to have shows at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City, and numerous other sites.

Art museum director William Otton says Wilhelmi's perspective sets him apart.

"The most successful artists are those who add new objects to the history of art, and who are recognized for doing so by critics, curators and collectors," Otton says. "Bill's resume proves that he is such an artist."

Being featured at the art museum in a career-spanning retrospective show is humbling, Wilhelmi says.

"It means a lot to me now to be exhibited for my body of work," he says. "I was pleasantly surprised at the attention I received after I moved here, and this is a nice culmination of that recognition."

Among the individual pieces in the exhibit are "Monster to the Tsars," "The American Dream" and the porcelain "Cowboy Boots."


You can find more of Bill Wilhelmi's work at:
Wilhelmi/Holland Gallery
300 South Chaparral
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
(512) 882-3523

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