‘Bill Iles: A Retrospective’ Prominent area artist, educator opens exhibit at Historic City Hall

Published 10:27 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

Three decades of art from renowned Lake Charles Bill Iles is being displayed and celebrated at the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center.

“Bill Iles: A Retrospective” opened on the third floor of the gallery last week, Sep. 2, and will be available for viewing until Nov. 4. At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7, Iles will be hosting a gallery talk to give the public a personal look at his work.

Iles has received recognition in over 300 regional, national and international juried competitions and group exhibitions. He poured that talent back into Southwest Louisiana as an artist and educator in the Department of Visual Arts at McNeese State University for 30 years.

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He told the American Press that he hopes to share an intimate look at his life as an artist.

“I hope to share with viewers a well-documented visual history of my work from my first attempts to paint through the various stages my art has progressed through.”

The 62-piece exhibition will feature art created with traditional mediums: oils and acrylic for painting, charcoal for drawing and paper and glue for collage.

Though he has been an artist for the majority of his life, this exhibition focuses on more recent work.

“I am now eighty years old and I have been a practicing artist for about 65 of those years. So in essence this exhibition is a partial retrospective of the latter years of my artistic life.”

His artistic journey started when he was young with the help and support of the adults in his life.

“Because of the encouragement of family members and school teachers I developed an early interest in art. I had a natural aptitude for it and was fortunate that the talent was encouraged.” 

For Iles, art is a lifelong interest and comfort.

“It is my way of dealing with the solitude of existence; my studio is a sanctuary where I can be totally involved with my existing world, my imagination and to bring work into existence that is a combination of past experiences, present-day observations, and personal vision. I feel most in touch with myself when I’m creating and making artwork.”

His main inspirations are other artists, some that he has seen in books and museums and some that he has known personally.

He has tackled just about every theme over his 65 years of artistry, stating they “run the gambit from political to satirical, from nostalgic to tongue in cheek.” Lately, he has been enamored by the Louisiana landscape.

He aims to use his art to encapsulate the soul of the focus of his attention.

“Regardless of the subject matter – still life, landscapes, etc. –  I try to capture the essence of the subject at hand. In this, I do not mean a photographic likeness but rather an interpretation that most resonates as authentic.”

The importance of art for the individual is a search for meaning, he believes. If enough individuals begin searching, the community can reap benefits.

“A thriving artist community can infuse the broader community. The artist is in touch with the senses and creates through the visual arts, literature, music, movies, a way for the broader community to experience the full spectrum of life.”

The gallery talk will be free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.