Opening Reception: February 26, 2015 | 6 – 8 PM
On view through April 2, 2016


For nearly a decade, Casey Williams visited Houston’s ship channel with the purpose of photographing the rich, abstract relationship between rusty oil tankers and the shimmering ocean that carries them.  Williams documented moments when the sun’s glare passed between the water and boats, each surface affected by the presence of the other. He created large scale work that often read as abstract paintings, befitting since the ships themselves had been repainted many times with bands of galvanizing varnish then paled with salt, rust, and time.

When Homeland Security prevented him from bringing his camera on board and his health kept him from traveling, Williams returned to his studio and revised old photos with slow, thoughtful strokes of luscious color. The resultant paintings are illustrations of an artist’s devotion to his practice. Making these “painted-ons” surely served as his way of getting back to the port.

Organized by his widow Jo Ann Williams and in conjunction with Fotofest Biennial 2016, Art Palace presents Back to the Port, an exhibition of Williams’ final efforts to understand the place that served as his muse for so many years.

Casey Williams (1947 – 2013) left a legacy based on his “found abstractions,” specifically his unique expression of Gulf Coast beauty. His work has been acquired by numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Modern Art (New York,) the Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris,) and the The Contemporary Austin (formerly Laguna Gloria.) William’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Galveston Arts Center, New Orleans Museum of Art, Holly Johnson Gallery, Texas Gallery, Barbara Davis Gallery, and extensively throughout the United States. He earned his BFA from the University of Texas in Austin and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.

More on Williams’ signature Port of Houston series: Escaping the Galleria, by Saundra Goldman via the Texas Observer, 2000.

More on Williams’ struggle with the Homeland Security plan: Beauty and the Bureaucrats, by Lisa Grey via the Houston Chronicle, 2008.