WILLIAM SCHULMAN RETROSPECTIVE,1966-2004

by Gary John Gresl

Currently at the Charles Allis Art Museum, thru May 29th

I confess that I hadn’t expected to be impressed.  The few works by William that I had seen were dark studies of human heads, nothing to perk my interest.  But...then there is the Charles Allis Museum exhibit with 49 of his works covering a period of 40 years.
It is clear that in his 50 years of art making William has developed a sophisticated idiosyncratic accomplished style with unique methods resulting in an independent oeuvre.  There is a clear Oriental sensibility, controlled gestures, a sumi ink quality, with varied black and white gradation as well as lovely color choices.  There is a multitude of tiny ink strokes accompanying bolder brush marks with carefully chosen colors and highly personal choices of imagery.
Sometimes unique media, such as encaustic on thin copper sheets, results in subtle appearances that might be overlooked.  Sometimes the poems that accompany many of the works are beautiful and add richly to the viewer’s experience.  There is a beauty in a painting of skulls (Silent Sentinels: Rwanda Revisited) and humor in others (My Art Deco Friend).
William once lived, taught and made art in the Milwaukee area, being involved in the 60’s with WP&S as its president, the Milwaukee Area Teachers of Art, and the Wisconsin Education Association.  For 36 years he taught at UW Stout, from where he retired in 1992, also having acquiring a Doctorate in Art Ed at Ohio State UN.
One poem associated with a piece titled “Ancient Ship of Fools” aids in touching William’s inner sensibility: 
“This ‘ Ship of Fools’ is as loaded as a barque destined for the calligraphic Orient.  I sail on searching for my imminence.  Whose brushed images are these? How do strange lines coalesce?  Sail on!  Sail on!


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