steven harvey fine arts project

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New York Times
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Bill Rice (1932-2006))

The Vermont-born New York painter Bill Rice was a master of the nocturnal cityscape.A personality of cosmopolitan diversity, he was a respected actor in underground film and lower east side theater as well as a painter with over forty years of work exhibited in galleries such as the 56 Bleeker in the 80's and the Sidney Janis Gallery in the 90's. In 1985 in the pages of Artforum, the poet René Ricard celebrated Rice, as "the greatest living painter of the city and in his painting there is no other city than New York, black New York."The critic Ted Castle described Rice in Art in America as "the painter of modern life for our time . . . The paintings are . . . angular like the cities we inhabit, and rather dark, like the mood of modern life; they communicate a reality that middle-class life generally ignores." Rice's subject was the lower east side and the beautiful black and Latino men (and women) who inhabited it. Bill, whose slender frail body seemed sometimes barely to exist, painted the men on the streets around his studio across from the men's shelter on East 3rd Street. He adored their style; lounging, looking, stretching, having sex, handsomely endowed. His work, like Whitman's, was a paean to the erotic city. Rice's touch is as seductive as his content, painting, as was said about Bonnard,"with a brush in one hand and a rag in the other,"Rice builds thin turped- out layers into surfaces of great delicacy and refinement. Silksgleams like illuminated advertising in the night. It is a large version of a small panel from the eighties, a nocturnally glimpsed view of a red- touched figure bundling down the Bowery.As Richard Milazzo puts it,"nightness or darkness ... has to do with specific conditions of vision, of look- ing, of seeing, or somehow highlighting for the viewer not only the things we often do not see (precisely because they are so generally "there') but the act of seeing itself (perception) ... "Rice understands that what is seen in a glimpse can serve as the foundation for the monumental. Rice has stated that "I would like to invest the rectangle-the basic unit in any cityscape-with the sensuality, color, texture, I find in the streets. I'd like to record the young, elegant black Asian, and Hispanic men who know how to move and glow in what would otherwise be a dreary landscape.