STATEMENT

I believe art should ask questions, not provide answers.    The problem with photography is that it shows you what exists. It is much too literal for my taste.  My challenge is to take the familiar and make it unfamiliar; to ask a question and begin a dialogue with the viewer.  W.H. Auden said: ”Knowledge may have its purposes, but guessing is always more fun than knowing.”

I don’t capture what is there, but rather I liberate what I see.  When my photograph of something familiar makes the viewer see it in a new and different way and use their imagination then I have succeeded.  I love to photogram the small things that we often overlook: a weed, or a broken piece of glass.  I pursue those things that are rejected, the trash and the detritus, because I enjoy the challenge of finding something exquisite in the ugliest garbage.  Like the ancient Japanese Zen monks’ tradition of wabi-sabi – which venerated the ephemeral complexity and beauty of nature’s imperfections – I pursue my fascination with the art of impermanence.

I use the objects with the photogram technique to make one-of-a-kind pictures. Without the interference of film and lens I reveal the fundamental nature of the entity itself. Taking the objects into the darkroom, I use their shapes, shadows and their essences to expose conventional photographic paper or old fashioned glass plate negatives that can then be enlarged and reproduced using digital technology and a pigment printer.

My personal dialogue with the objects provokes the questions expressed in my pictures.  All I ask of the viewer is to join me in my pursuit of the investigation.

BIO

A born experimenter Bill Westheimer was raised in Cincinnati and began playing with photographic processes at age 14.  He was introduced to the magic of the darkroom in the mid 1960’s and has never looked back at the conventional, average, normal, and routine approaches to image making.

Beginning with a darkroom in a 3rd floor bathroom, Bill mastered developing and printing black and white photographs in his teens.  He experimented with making 3-D holograms before he could drive.  Bill also explored high contrast image making, solarization, and other alternative processes in those early years.

While still in high school Bill and 3 partners operated a lightshow business that accompanied nationally known rock and roll bands.  Their FlavorScope lightshow company became the house lightshow at Cincinnati’s premier concert hall – the  Ludlow Garage – and worked with bands such as The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, BB King, The MC5, Vanilla Fudge, Bitter Blood Street Theater, and many other marquee name bands of the era.  The lightshow tapped into Bill’s love of alternative processes and experimental image making.  He created abstract slide shows, hand drawn 16mm film loops, and other experimental background lighting image making techniques.

At Union College Bill studied philosophy and art. He studied with noted painter and educator Arnold Bittelman.   Westheimer also studied scientific photography techniques while at Union.  He continued with his experiments in photography while completing college.

Later Westheimer studied with Jerry Burchfield who introduced him to color photograMs and Cibachrome (now Ilfochrome) printing.    Bill went on to teach Cibachrome printing at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen.  Early in this millennium he learned the 19th century technique of collodion glass plate photography from the leading experts in the field: France Scully and Mark Osterman.

Bill lives and works in West Orange, New Jersey in a converted 1885 carriage house that includes a modern darkroom, digital printing studio and 3D printer.

Recent work includes photograms made on collodion glass plates, Ilfochrome and gelatin silver media.  He collaborated on a camera obscura project with Charles Schwartz documenting the city of New York, and has recently published several books: Momento, Oddyssey – The Billiad and Manual – The Personalities of Hands.  His works are exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide.

Bill Westheimer’s resume (PDF)

SELECTED ONE MAN SHOWS:
“Manual Project”, SCCC Gallery, Newton NJ, October 2016
“Image-Identity”, Ironworks Gallery, Orange, NJ, December 2011-January 2012
“Manual Project”, artspace, Richmond, VA, February-March 2011
“Side by Side”, Imlay Fine Art, Montclair, NJ March-April 2010
“Between Order & Disorder”, Brassworks Gallery, Montclair, NJ, Jan.-Apr. 2009
“The Manual Project”, Cypress College, Cypress, CA October-November 2008
“Fragments”, Westby Gallery, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, November – December 2007
“The Manual Project”, Sol Mednick Gallery, Philadelphia, August-September 2007
“Other Avenues”, Rahway Arts Center, April-May 2004
“Fragments”, Montclair, NJ, January 2004
“Dreamstates”, New York, NY, March 2002
“Assemblages”, Nikon House, New York, December 1984
Carson Sapiro Gallery, Denver, CO, August 1984
“The Elk Mountain Range”, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO, May ‑ June 1982
First National Bank in Aspen, December 1979
Pitkin County Library, Aspen, CO, Nov 80, July 82, April 85

SELECTED GROUP SHOWS:
“Concealed, Confined and Collected” MN Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis MN, May – July 2015
“After Image” ArtHouse, Jersey City NJ, April – May 2015
“Rendered” CORE Art Space, Denver CO, March – April 2015
“Surrealistic Manifesto” Hinterland Gallery, Denver CO, March 2015
“Materialize” Shemer Arts Center, Phoenix AZ, October – November 2014
“Alternative Processes” Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins CO, October 2014
“Director’s Choice” Abecedarian Gallery, Denver CO, November 2014
“Artist Book Cornucopia V” Abecedarian Gallery, Denver CO, April 2014
“Triad” Arts Center of NJ, Rahway NJ, September – December 2013
“Portraits – Beneath the Surface” Academy Square Gallery, Montclair NJ, May – August 2012
“Depth of Field” Montclair Public Library, Montclair, NJ June, 2011″Working in Wonder”, Walsh Gallery, Seton Hall Univ., South Orange, NJ, January – February 2011
“Constructed Territories”, Stein Gallery, Dayton, OH, October 2010 – January 2011
“Photography Re-Imagined”, Tilt Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, October 1-29, 2010
“Of Three Minds”, SMI Block Gallery, Montclair, NJ, September 2010 – January 2011
“Diversity”, Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, Blue Mountain. Lake, NY, August – October 2010
“Driving Without Destination”, Walsh Gallery, South Orange, NJ, September – October 2010
“Flight”, Photoplace Gallery, Middlebury, VY, August – September 2010
Martha Schneider Gallery, Chicago, IL, July-September 2010
“Botanica”, Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton NJ, May – September 2010
“Art from the Ashes”, AFTA Gallery, Glendale, CA, June 19 – July 24, 2010
“Peripheral Field”, NJAI Gallery, West Orange, NJ, May 22 – June 20, 2010
“Who We Are”, Maloney Gallery, Morristown, NJ, June – August 2010
“Energy Strength Power”, Coastal Arts Gallery, Half Moon Bay, CA, June 11 – July 5, 2010
“Terra”, NJ Arts Incubator Gallery, West Orange, NJ February – March 2010
“Moolah”, Arts Guild of NJ, Rahway, NJ November 13 – December 11, 2009
“Photography Re-Imagined”, Tilt Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, October 2-29, 2009
“Cosa Nostra”, Klotz Gallery, Chelsea, NYC, April-May 2009
“Art Connections 5”, George Segal Gallery, Montclair, NJ, Jan.-Feb. 2009
“NJPE”, 1212 Gallery, Richmond, Virginia, Oct.-Nov. 2008
“Body Parts”, Rahway Arts Guild, September-October 2008
Gallery 51, Montclair, NJ, August-September 2008
“Alternative Processes 2008” Options Gallery, Odessa, TX, Feb.-March 2008
“Sun Pictures to Megapixels,” WAH Center, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept.-Oct. 2007
“Patterns,” Rahway Arts Guild, September-October 2007
Gallery 51, Montclair, NJ, September-October 2006
“PhotoNow 2006”, The Goat Gallery, South Orange, NJ, June-July 2006
“Contemporary Obscurists”, Alan Klotz Gallery, Chelsea, NYC, Sept.-Oct. 2005
“Intimate Flora”, Center for Fine Art Photography, Ft. Collins, CO May-June 2005
“The True Mirror”, City Without Walls Gallery, Newark, NJ, March-April 2005
“Hybrid”, Dancing Goat Gallery, South Orange, NJ, May-June 2004
“What is a Portrait?”, Gaelen Gallery, Parsippany, NJ, March 2004
“Connections”, Kunstlerhaus, Graz Austria, December 2003
“Archi+Texture”, Brooklyn Fireproof Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Oct. – Nov. 2003
“Photography Now”, Dancing Goat Gallery, South Orange, NJ, Sept. – Oct 2003
“Analog-Digital”, City Without Walls, Newark, NJ, March 2003
“12th Annual Center Awards”, Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA Nov. 2002
“New Members”, City Without Walls, Newark, NJ, September 2002
“Essex Exposed”, Baird Gallery, South Orange, NJ, September 2002
“Art for New York”, Butterfields, Los Angeles, CA, October 2001
“Poured on a Plate” George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, September 2001
“Possible Photography”, Ward Nasse Gallery, NYC, May-June 1990
“One-Of-A-Kind”, SSC&B:Lintas, New York, April-June 1987
The Cincinnati Art Museum, RSM Collection, March 1986
TLK Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA, February 1984
The Cincinnati Art Museum, New Acquisitions, Winter 1984
Depot Gallery, Steamboat Springs CO, June 1984
BC Space, Laguna Beach, California, June 1983
The Unicorn Gallery, Aspen, December 1982, December 1983
The Hills Gallery, Denver, 1983, 1982‑83, 1981‑82
The Herron Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana, Jan‑Feb 1983
Eclipse Photographics, Boulder, CO., Dec 1981‑Jan 1982
Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO, Sept. 1983, Dec. 1981, Sept. 1980
The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH., June‑July 1981

COLLECTIONS:
Atlantic Richfield Corp.
Chase Manhattan Bank
Cincinnati Bell
Cincinnati Art Museum
Goldman Sachs
Laguna Beach Museum
LaJolla Museum of Contemporary Art
Pacific Bell
Ponderosa Collection
RSM Collection
The Snowmass Club
Yale University Art Museum

GRANTS:
Work has been funded through grants from:
Agfa‑Gevaert, Inc.
Aspen Foundation
John Denver
Ilford, Inc.
Lita & Morton Heller Foundation

EDUCATION:
Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., 1970 ‑1974
B.A. Philosophy, additional study: Photographic and Graphic Art
Additional studies with:
Jerry Burchfield
Mark & France Scully Osterman
George Eastman House