Selections from the series “The Sanctuary of the Sun: Seasons and Time” will be on exhibit in the historic house at the Muscatine Art Center June 2 through September 11, 2022.
The artist William Havlicek describes his series as “a poetic eulogy to Iowa’s seasonal changes, ochre harvests, russet woods and silent streams.”
In the early 1970s, Havlicek, a Cedar Rapids native, had one of his first museum shows at what was then known as the Laura Musser Museum. While he currently lives in California, the artist has deep roots in Iowa. He also explains that “Iowa has left deep roots in me.”
The implied landscape forms and colors that are the foundation of Havlicek’s work originated in the eloquent Iowa landscape. The title for the exhibition was taken from Psalm 19 and its sacred celebration of the sun and the life that flourishes under its radiant light.
After graduation from Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, Havlicek enrolled at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) where he earned a BFA degree in painting. During his junior year of college, he completed a foreign exchange program in Haarlem, Netherlands at Atelier ’63, an international Dutch art program that attracted celebrated artists such as Eva Hesse.
The year in Holland planted the seed for an area of interest that eventually resulted in the book, Van Gogh’s Untold Journey, published in 2010, and an upcoming three-volume set Havlicek is co-authoring about Van Gogh’s sister-in-law Johanna Van Gogh Bonger and her key role in bringing his art and letters to the world.
After graduation from MCAD, Havlicek was drafted and worked as an Army psychiatric orderly at Tripler Military Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. While on leave, he toured Japan and the Hawaiian Islands. He attended the University of Hawaii at its renowned East/West Center, taking courses in Asian and Islamic art and studying the superb collection at the Honolulu Academy of Art.
Following his military tour, Havlicek enrolled in graduate school at the University of Iowa, earning MA and MFA degrees in painting and art history. As a student, he lived in Kolona, Iowa, in an Amish community and worked part-time as a field hand. His studio was located on the second story of a 19th-century farm house and was immersed in the constant change of seasons on view through the tall windows opening onto massive clouds, wild flowers, dense thickets, and woods.
Graduate school also afforded professional participation in group shows at Laura Musser Museum, Des Moines Art Center, The University of Iowa Art Museum, and Cedar Rapids Art Museum.
Academic life at MCAD, the University of Iowa, and later a doctoral program at Claremont Graduate University meant learning from prominent art historians and artists including Josef Albers, Harold Rosenburg, Roberto Matta, Christo, Esteve Vincente, and many others. A dissertation, and later a book, on Van Gogh were the fruit of Havlicek’s doctoral studies. A full-time professorship at Laguna College of Art and Design and a key role in their Summer Abroad Program afforded absorbing hours in great European museums and helped clarify his vision as an artist.
Havlicek’s exhibition history spans over 40 years with numerous group and one-man shows in: Santiago, Chile; New York; cities in California; cities in Iowa; Tennessee; Hawaii, Washington State; Minnesota; Bermuda, etc. His work has earned major commissions, reviews, and multiple articles. His paintings are included in over 100 collections both public and private.
The public is invited to meet Havlicek on Thursday, June 2, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Admission is free of charge for the reception and to visit the exhibition during regular museum hours through September 11, 2022.