Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Burk Frey reviews Casey Williams

     Casey Williams (1947-2013) was a Texas-based photographer and professor famous for his "found abstractions," or close-up color field photographs, particularly those he made late in life of the water and ships in the Houston ship channel.

     He was actively producing artwork at the ship channel until 2008, when new Department of Homeland Security regulations prohibited photography from onboard the M/V Sam Houston, the only public-accessible boat allowed in the channel. Williams was not able to secure an exemption, and his work at the ship channel ceased out of necessity.

     His abstracted images of channel water and rusted ship hulls were so inspired by color field art that journalist Lisa Gray described them as "Mark Rothko[s] wrung from Houston's industrial underbelly." She wasn't the only one to make the comparison, and even Williams' 2013 funeral was held, fittingly, at Houston's famed Rothko Chapel.

     I would have liked to have met Williams. Though his "found abstractions" are not always compelling, I deeply respect him for searching for (and often finding) beauty in the ignored decay and for pushing back against governmental overreach and encroachment on art making.

No comments:

Post a Comment