a studio visit with william t. wiley,

in preparation for his first solo show at hosfelt gallery.



visiting wiley’s studio is like going into a dark room after being in bright sunlight — your eyes need to adjust to the density before you can see anything at all.


and being in his environment is like viewing his art work…  you look and you read and you smile and you puzzle and you have flashes of “ahh…  yes!”


you keep exploring and no matter how thorough you think you’re being, you’re continually finding something you didn’t see before…  making discoveries…  connecting…  deciphering his codes… comprehending his malapropisms…  learning his visual vocabulary…  getting his jokes.

Wm_t_wiley1_On the Left_We_Attempt_a_New_Sign

and understanding that very often, his “jokes” are as serious as a loose razor blade in the bottom of your toiletries bag.


that despite the comic strip manner, the baseness of the double entendre, the goofiness of his pun,


wiley’s art is a clanging alarm.  a voice-over blow-by-blow of everything that’s fucked-up in our world…  like female genital mutilation, or the way we gobble up resources and foul the planet, or  blithely hand over information to facebook and the NSA.


you’re impressed that after more than 50 years of art making, wiley’s still willing to take on the senselessness. Wm_t_wiley2_On the Left_We_Attempt_a_New_Sign 2

that he’s not been beaten down, though he knows it’s sisyphean.


that he cares too much not to keep chipping at it.  can’t keep from ranting and chanting and charming in the hopes of getting through to someone.

and you’re moved by his stick-to-it-iveness.  his lucidity.  the down-home common sense and the frontier-plainness of the poetry.


if you’re really lucky, he might play music for you.   but it’s unlikely to be on one of the dozen or so harmonicas he keeps in the studio.


rather he’ll “play” his sculptures constructed of found stuff…   strumming and percussing and bowing and plucking.



and he’ll read to you from loazi and from a book of smutty quotations.  and you’ll know that everything in wiley’s universe has significance.


and that the dunce cap and gee-shucksness are but the disguise of a philospher-poet of the most sophisticated order.


william t. wiley “NEWSLATE” will open in my san francisco gallery on saturday the 8th of february and run through 15 march, 2014.   it will change the way you view the world.