Kudzu Crossing by William Warren

William Warren’s paintings of kudzu depict roadside sculpture gardens of fantastic, sometimes alien-looking forms. He told me there was good kudzu between Water Valley and Taylor.

“Kudzu Crossing” by William Warren is on view at Bozarts Gallery, Water Valley. Acrylic on canvas. Copyright (c) the artist.

“Mound Moguls” by William Warren. acrylic on canvas. Copyright (c) the artist.

Kudzu from the car_Taylor & WV

I wanted a photo of the kudzu near Water Valley and Taylor, but was in a hurry and took this photo from a moving car, so it doesn’t do it justice.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, by the time William Warren was in third grade, the other children in his class were impressed by his drawing abilities and asked him to draw dinosaurs and other things. By eighth grade, the political cartoons by David Levine that appeared in New York magazine inspired him to make his own pen and ink drawings of political satire. A versatile artist, he has been sculpting since high school. At Rhode Island School of Design is where he says, “I really started to paint. And that’s become, you know, sort of a lifelong pursuit. It’s really my primary passion.”

“Journey of the One Eyed Egg” by William Warren. acrylic on canvas. Copyright (c) the artist.

Warren and his wife, Pati D’Amico, started the Waiting Room Gallery in Providence, Rhode Island, as they were waiting for their house to sell so that they could move to the bohemian Bywater area of New Orleans. This was 1996. Warren recalls an accomplishment of his and D’Amico’s that happened in Providence that year before they moved to New Orleans:

We started Gallery Night. It was kind of like another overnight success because it grew from about eight galleries in the beginning to sixteen the second time and then we had a Charlie bus that took everybody around. So it was a great rejuvenator for the city arts scene. People had thought about it for years but it was that catalyst of a couple people getting together and saying ‘Let’s do it.’

William Warren_750

William Warren, who goes by Bill among friends and clients of his sign-painting business, sits in front of one of his sculptures on his porch in Water Valley.

They arrived in New Orleans on April Fools’ Day, 1997. In a big, double shotgun house in Bywater, Warren and D’Amico lived on one side and eventually opened the Waiting Room Gallery on the other side. He reflects upon the positive effect that affordable housing and real estate can have on an arts scene:

Bywater was very affordable at that time. It was really a bohemian art scene. Quintessential. And that really suited me. I always thought that sort of inexpensive, funky area really suited me. There were many painters, many writers, musicians galore. So it was a place that people could afford, and that’s a main ingredient in any art scene I think is affordability. Hopefully, affordable so that artists can buy their own spaces because I think we have a lot more control over the situation. Now, after the storm, that all changed. Everything got very expensive, very quickly actually. [. . .] Our gallery was kind of a pioneer of the area. We, another gallery around the corner from us, and then one on St. Claude. [. . .] in that area, there were only about three or four galleries and now there are about ten to thirteen galleries in the area.”

Warren and D’Amico moved to Water Valley in 2008. Warren’s hand-painted signs are found on storefronts along Main Street. In fact, last year, The Huffington Post published an article about him that was written by Lauren Walser for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

A hand-painted sign by William Warren in Water Valley.

William Warren painted this mural in 2013 in Water Valley. The design is from a 1907 illustration by J. G. Boyd.

Warren and D’Amico have been instrumental in the growth of the artistic community there. (Read more about their involvement with Bozarts Gallery in my previous post.) Their studios will be on the Art Crawl tour on September 19, 2015.  For more information about the Art Crawl, go to the Water Valley Arts Council’s Facebook page.

Thanks to William Warren for allowing me to interview him and to share the images of his artworks. To see more artworks by William Warren, contact Bozarts Gallery at (662) 473-2484 or visit http://bozartsgallery.com/.

Follow me through the kudzu and byways of Mississippi and learn about the art I see and the artists I meet along the way.

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