As William Heydt started out as a photographer. That alert trained eye as apparent in the paintings he now creates. The work conveys the sense of immediacy captured by the camera lens. A Parisian boat tender, tourist crowded on a sightseeing boat, a sidewalk artist at work –all absorbed by the watercolorists. He shakes their essence out of his brush and onto paper. The end result is scenes that swirl into the viewers consciousness like a sudden squall.
Heydt, in Newport resident, earned a B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has published several books of his watercolors and photographs. Several private and museum collections have acquired the artist’s work. He also has had several invitational exhibition at the Brooklyn museum in New York.
In his latest book, Snapshots (2002), he’s caught local figures in their milieux. Joe Travis stares out from the ticket booth at the Jane Pickens Theatre. “Ronnie’s office at Aquidneck Lobster, Newport” catches the little lobster fishermen amidst the building sea of papers that is the other side of his business. In “An anthrax scare closes down Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Fall 2001″ Heydt captures the angst municipal workers charting unknown and sinister territory. Braced to face an inevitable enemy, their bodies are coiled with tension.
As 1999 book, Watercolors, Heydt captures the moods of Newport in all seasons. In ” Winter Chill at Bowen’s Basin, 1998″ a black sailboat hunkers in against amidst the docks eight its mass appeared to shiver in the glacial light. ” View from The Bistro early Spring” shows a sweep of the harbor and tilted mast through unfurling buds. “Adians of Newport on a wet spring afternoon, 1999″ catches the reflection of spring pastels on the slick street before the restaurant. “Relaxing at the ABC on a perfect day, Summer 1998″ shows patrons lulled by the sun and sea, lost in summer’s trance. The stark light of late fall is reflected off the water in “Recovery motors down the Narragansett 1998.”
In his collection were high William Heydt PHOTOGRAPHS the artist present from arresting images. In “For Sale by the Sheet, or at grand central station, 1992,” two enterprising crooks, who have stolen the toilet paper in a Grand Central Station rest room, mug for the camera. They are selling that TP, by the sheet, to those hapless ones trapped in the stalls. There is a comic sense to many of the shots such as ” Circus Duty, Providence, R.I., 1971″ where an alert attendant stands ready with a trash can near the derriere of an elephant. Heydt has shot photographs in locations all over the world. A sleeper in ” Swans, Hamburg, Germany, 1977″ is getting a scolding from a swan. the sleepers grizzled beard stands in marked contrast to the elegant plumage of the birds floating below. “Mud Wrestlers, Harvest Fair, Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown R.I. 1998″ surprises two boys transformed by the battle and grime.
If you don’t get a chance to see Heydt’s August exhibit at Inland Arts, take a look at his books. You can find them at the ocean and coffee roasters Washington Square store.