Featuring work made between 1978 and 2003, Willie Birch’s Looking Back expo provides a fairly comprehensive sense of what this 67-year-old African-American artist has been doing for the past few decades.
I first interviewed Willie Birch in December 1996 for an article that appeared in the January/February 1997 issue of theGulf Coast Arts & Entertainment Review for the opening of an exhibit at the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans.
In the January 30th, 2009 issue of the Time’s Picayune, Arthur Roger Gallery artist, Willie Birch, was featured in the front page article about the growing apprehension with the increase of violent crimes in New Orleans neighborhoods. Birch’s work, which is rooted in the daily life and celebratory rituals of New Orleans neighborhoods, addresses issues related to the survival and culture of those living in these areas. After recent violent outbursts in his 7th Ward neighborhood, Birch has dedicated much of his art to the documentation of these events in the hope that his work will communicate the need to put an end to this violence.
Birch at Home By Terrington Calas, NEW ORLEANS ART REVIEW Willie Birch’s take on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is among the most temperate we have seen-and yet possibly the most affecting. His “Home Sweet Home,” a suite of large-scale acrylic and charcoal drawings (at the Arthur Roger Gallery this fall) presents the tragic images…
Four paintings in a series: A house lies skewed in the middle of an empty Street, its clapboards turned into undulating waves by the chaos of wind and water. A burly guy dressed in pleasure-club regalia offers a raised hand and a big smile, a second-line shout-out seeming to hang over his velvet fedora.
Willie Birch is a New Orleans-based artist whose exhibition Celebrating Freedom: The Art of Willie Birch is currently on view at New Orleans’ Contemporary Arts Center.
In his acrylic and charcoal paintings such as The Barber Shop, Willie Birch explores the people and places that define old New Orleans neighborhoods.
“As an artist, I do not live in a vacuum.I am constantly absorbing the life of my community, recording it in my public and personal works.”
With the sympathetic understanding of the insider and the objectivity of the ethnographer, artist Willie Birch furthers the social documentary tradition of photographers Helen Levitt, Roy de Carava, and Robert Frank.
When you ask Willie Melvin Birch, “How did you get here?,” you want to ask him in every sense: how did he get here, as well as how did he get here. The Maryland Institute College of Art alumnus journeyed a curiously circular road to being a fall 2006 artist-in-residence at his alma mater with two showcase exhibitions.