A Lens on the Past:
Gualala Arts is honored to have renowned photographer William R. ("Bill") Heick present at the opening reception on Saturday, February 5, from 5 to 7 p.m., where he will show his film, "Acorn Bread Making Ceremony." On Sunday, February 6, at 1 p.m., Mr. Heick will show another of his films, "Pomo Shaman." A film by local students, "Life on the Rez," will also be presented. Time will be announced.
Mr. Heick was a documentary photographer for University of California, Berkeley, ethnographer Samuel A. Barrett. Barrett conducted interviews and research among local natives in the '50's and '60's. His distinguished work has appeared at the Smithsonian Institution, The Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
William "Bill" Heick has practiced his trade continuously for more than six decades. It was the advent of World War II that directed him into this field - he enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the Pacific as a photographer.
Heick returned to San Francisco after the war, and joined his brother-in-law's landscaping business. Because his work hours were flexible, he found time to enroll in the California School of Fine Arts, where he studied under Ansel Adams and Minor White from 1947 to 1950. Other luminary photographers who were guest lecturers at the school during this time included Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, and Lisette Model.
Heick reflects: "Ansel's enthusiasm for photography was so great that all of us students found it contagious. He was always upbeat and positive. During one class, I photographed him with guest lecturer, Dorothea Lange. Ansel wanted a set of those photographs, so we struck a deal - four signed Heick prints for one signed Ansel Adams - one of the pictures of Dorothea and Ansel appears in the catalogue for the Adams 100 exhibition. I also traded with Imogen Cunningham - gardening work for photographs."
Heick's most productive period as a black and white photographer was in the late Forties and early Fifties. He had a one-man exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1949, followed by an exhibition at the de Young Museum in the same city. During this time period, Heick was also involved with the late Sidney Peterson in his pioneering avant-garde film projects at the California School of Fine Arts. "Sidney was affectionately known as the grand-daddy of avant-garde film,' and his classes introduced me to the art of film-making." Heick went on to Seattle with Peterson and Bob Gardner as cinematographer for Orbit Films.
With this experience under his belt, Heick returned to San Francisco, where he was hired as a documentary filmmaker for Bechtel Corporation's worldwide projects, covering five continents. On assignment, he would always bring along his still camera, capturing images of indigenous people from around the world.In 1999, Heick received an Award of Excellence from the International Cinemotographers Guild, which was presented to him at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic in San Rafael. The award was given in recognition of his contribution to documentary and ethnographic films in the course of more than four decades.
The exhibit will continue through February 11.