Bill Boyce is on my mind. We were helping him move some of his sculptures into storage recently. Not an easy feat given that he works in large-scale, bulky pieces. But he is one of my favorite Chicago artists, and I couldn’t bear the idea of any of his art going to the scrappers. He shares the fate of all-too-many artists in that his work is not as acclaimed as it should be. Yes, he has had his art exhibited throughout the Midwest, including a solo exhibit at Indiana University, and even Internationally (Paris). I first met Bill when my Mom and I started Gallery E.G.G. in the West Loop district of Chicago in the mid-1990s. I became enamored with his seemingly-effortless integration of diverse materials and the elegance of his forms. In some ways, an updated Brancusi, although superficially his work bears more resemblance to the junk art of Richard Stankiewicz and the early work of Mark di Suvero. Bill’s work also perfectly fit the vision of our gallery, which was ecological.
An excerpt from Bill Boyce’s artist’s statement: “As an ecological artist, I primarily use discarded materials, and imagine a new life for them as art. The recognizable history of the object remains, but is altered through the artistic process. I find potential in such diverse materials as truck tires, bicycle frames, a red-and-white barber shop pole, and the congealed circle on the inner lid of a paintcan. And then I bring to these found materials my expertise in welding, casting, and use of adhesives. I feel that all materials have energy from their previous uses, whether as car bumpers or signage, and my job is to bring these materials together and ‘create a new thought for that object,’ in the words of Duchamp (alias Richard Mutt).”
Someday Bill will be recognized as an important artist. I am confident of that. For now, I am content with noticing the frequency with which people stop in front of my house to contemplate his sculpture The King and Queen of Chicago, which uses a barber-shop pole as the sleek torso of the queen and a bicycle frame with the label “world traveler” as the crown of the king.