Writings and Speeches
The items listed here are handwritten by Wilson, or transcribed from his notes. Occasionally they were transcribed from a recording.
SPEECH THEMES (PARTIAL LIST)
American Art and Culture
1972 EE Dale Lecture at OKCU
1978 CA role in espousing American values
1999 Truth in Art from Greeks
Art History: 1980 OKC Art Center regarding Taos/Santa Fe early group
Commencement: 1988 Find what’s fulfilling, not money
Courage to Create
1984 “Creativity and Science” (Los Alamos)
1989 Creativity and Courage (Sandia Corp, Shane)
Nature throughout the Ages
1999 The Next Millennium, editorial
2001 Human progress, creating large societies
2005 Understanding the human condition
2007 Human intelligence
1972 Henry Stinson Birdseye
1978 Bobby Neeld
1990 Robert Lougheed
1999 Bettina Steinke
1978 Why I paint
1981 Criteria for judging art
1984 Handout on inventions regarding representational art
1997 ASAA forum, 16-page transcript
Photography, Use of in Paintings: 1979 to Phoenix docents
Science & Art
1977 Scientific basis of visual arts (’77 show catalog)
1987 Art and Perception (U of Hawaii) lecture with aids
1989 ASAA on Art and Perception lecture with aids, plus
1990 Creativity and Chaos (Oppenheimer)
Windows to the West Triptychs, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1994-5 History of project and his intent
2005 NCWHM lectures
2007 OU lectures
CHRONOLOGY OF SPEECHES AND WRITINGS
WITH BRIEF CONTENT SUMMARIES
1972 Eulogy for Henry Stinson Birdseye. Henry was Renaissance man with interests in science, the arts.
1972 “American Art and Culture.” In memory of E.E. Dale, Historian. University of Oklahoma. “American” culture came from early exploration of a vast country. Literature, music and art, inspired by this adventure into the unknown. E.E. Dale and Patrick Hurley were friends.
1976 Film by Ken Meyer for series “Profiles in American Art.”
1977 “A Look Back to Science.” Essay in catalogue of 1977 one-man show at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK. Scientific grounding of visual arts, physical attributes of vision, subjective phenomena that influence success or failure of a painting, “to paint it or not to paint it.”
1978 “The Cowboy Artists of America.” Address at Phoenix Art Museum. (Wilson was a judge and spoke at the CAA show.) CA role in espousing American values—virtue, honor, equality, integrity, and their striving for excellence in their craft. Told story of a piece on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum—a mattress, unmade bed, nailed to the wall with green paint splashed over it.
1978 “Why I Paint.” Speech and demonstration. New Mexico Art League, June 28, 1978. Discusses the geometry of the earth and the distances we’re dealing with when observing or painting a thunderstorm. The effects of atmosphere and distance on colors of clouds. Painting v. camera, why bother painting? “I burn to show you what I feel.” Relates how Inness’ Peace and Plenty touched him at eight years old.
1978 “In Memoriam, Bobby Neeld.” Courage and commitment of the whole family (his and New Mexico Air National Guard) to the greater society. Duty in face of popular disapproval.
1978 “Abstract v. representational art.” Address to Docents of Phoenix Art Museum (Cowboy Artists of America art show). Photos can be copied with skill, but where’s the feeling, the meaning?
1979 “The Visual Image.” Address to Cowboy Artists of America, Phoenix. Several outlines of the same talk, text and jokes. The visual image as a means to communicate. Self-doubt about value of trying to communicate visually. Project du garbage of nephew Wilson at University of Arizona: modern attempt to study this culture archaeologically. Rembrandt and the like would be amazed at the abundant visual images from the camera. So why paint, with visual images so accurate and plentiful?
1979/80 Editorial on the use of tax dollars for Public Art. Albuquerque Tribune.
1980 “Why We Paint.” Address to Albuquerque Watercolor Society. Emotional message is paramount.
1980 “The Taos Founders.” Address to Oklahoma Art Center Association occasioned by their exhibit of paintings of early Taos and Santa Fe artists prepared by the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Wilson’s early experience in Taos. Traces the vast amount of education in that community, with whom the many artists studied, etc. Generosity of mentors and the tradition artists have associating with each other: art stimulates art. Detailed account of education of Taos/Santa Fe groups from 1912 with first six men, on to present groups, Wilson’s friends.
1981 “Experimentation and Vitality in Art.” Guest Editorial, Albuquerque Tribune. Goals.
1981 “Criteria for Judging Art.” Guidelines used for the Northwest Rendezvous show in Helena, MT. Technical and emotional.
1984 “How to Make a Fool of Yourself in Public and Live with It.” Address given as participant in symposium entitled, “Creativity in Science.” Discusses the split between science and art in the 19th century.
1984 Representational art as a series of inventions, with bibliographical references. (Written for artists who requested critiques of their work.) Revised in 1997. “Inventions” that representational art uses: drawing, color, chiaroscuro, linear and atmospheric (aerial) perspective, broken color.
1986 “Snoopy’s Aerodynamic Handicap.” Discussion of the dynamics of the aerial dogfight.
1987 “Art and Perception.” Lecture at the University of Hawaii conference on creativity. Lecture with exhibits on the science of visual perception. Technical aspects of visual perception, with exhibits (stored). As we progress scientifically we realize that the more we know, the more there is to know. Randomness, predictability. Function of visual system and resulting illusions. Discusses border contrast, subjective interpretations of what we see, and artifacts of the visual system. Haloing, incised decoration in Japanese pottery, e.g. Craik-O’Brien Illusion, Mach effect. Color perception, border perception in cones same as rods equal enhancement at borders. Anatomy/chemistry of the eye. Eye versus photos.
1988 Commencement address, Albuquerque Academy. Don’t fret that you don’t have a direction yet. Be open to anything that interests you. Your goal should be to use yourself to the best of your ability. Disregard external goals of fame, fortune, and strive to find and do what is fulfilling to you. (Much more.)
1989 “How We See,” with illustrative exhibits. Address to American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA).” How your eyes work. Illustrations from Hawaii talk and explanations—rods and cones, etc. what they do, what information comes from them. Color theories—Goethe, Itten (Bauhaus), Young 1802. Conclusion: the photo, the camera, can’t come close to duplicating our visual system. Using what has been learned about it in painting can result in more successful paintings.
1989 “Creativity and Courage.” Address to a group at Sandia Corporation arranged by Karen Shane, Wilson’s neighbor. Everyone has creativity; don’t confuse it with originality. Art is entertainment, just as science. People live to entertain themselves one way or another. Original ideas can open one to ridicule, therefore a natural tendency is to go the safer way, squelch the original thoughts, or pretend it’s just a little thing, not serious, a fun little exercise just tossed off. Leonardo did very few paintings, lots of “theatrical” efforts, trying to shield himself from criticism? In early years scientists kept private their efforts in order to keep their efforts secret and not exposed to ridicule. “The most beautiful thing that can happen to a human being in life is to be able to express himself and realize his potential.” Must have courage to create in the midst of criticism. That’s what we’re here for, and we don’t get a second pass. Greatest enemy is yourself, and fear of being a fool, ostracized and ridiculed. Omar Khayyam, “Into the universe… Verses 32, 63 and 7 from Rubaiyat.
1989 “Public Art, Personal Freedom and Perversion.” Guest Editorial, Albuquerque Tribune. Government funded public art.
1990 “Robert Lougheed, a memorial.” This may have been a speech given at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Center, or it may have been thoughts Wilson wrote down for himself. Wilson’s debt to a great, simple, profound teacher, friend and almost father.
1990 “Creativity and Chaos.” J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Lecture, Los Alamos, NM. Parallels in history of science and art. Descartes “reduce difficulties to as many parts as possible, and reduce the relevant parts to the simplest data.” This became cornerstone of scientific investigation. In art: perspective, atmospherics, modeling, coherent light source led to Renaissance realism in the 17th century and from Michelangelo to Rembrandt.
Traces parallels in scientific and artistic understanding, to the point of awareness of extreme complexity, chaos. Led to further scientific understanding and in the art world, almost a resignation to chaos. Ends with hope.
1992 “When the Past Should Be Put to Rest.” Perhaps written as an editorial about the discovery of America 500 years ago. Probably not submitted or published.
1995 “Talk to the Doctors.” Triptych commission at NCWHM. Outlines origin, development, purpose, technical aspects.
1994-5 “Sam Noble Special Events Center Triptychs, Autobiographical Note.” Wilson’s family origins, his education before deciding to paint, educating himself to paint, plus mentors, advice to go abstract, study to comprehend it. Study of art history. Followed his own subjective preferences without considering the current fashions or the market. “By the time I came to be offered this commission, I had reached a point where I felt each of us must build himself from his own person and use his own abilities if he is to compete in a healthy society, and that only a large number of such self-contained and self-reliant people can make a healthy society.” Continues that only he can be held accountable if it fails or succeeds.
1996 Address to Rotary Club of Denver. History and philosophy behind “Artists of America” show. How it changed from the original concepts, deteriorated in quality and sales, what could revive it, if they have the will.
1997 ASAA Seattle forum (16 pages, transcription). Part I: Importance of rules of perspective, other aspects of representational painting developed throughout history. Part II: Lecture with supporting slides on visual perception, how we see. Part III: Pure Wilson on painting, critiquing.
1998 Address for the opening of an art show of work by veterans, especially by Vietnam Veterans, at the Capitol Gallery, Santa Fe. We served and can be proud we did what was expected of us by our country.
1998 Letter to Scientific American magazine regarding visual phenomenon in depiction of sunset view on Mars. (Not published.)
1999 “Truth in Art.” Traces historical ebb and flow of concepts from Greeks of Athens to present day. The logic to visual art (drawing, geometry, handling of light, color, symmetry, composition) is bound to our spirituality and to the real world. “There is a world of difference between an unfathomable truth and a non-existent one.” Let us continue to pursue, to seek an understanding of what is valuable to the spiritual artistic experience.” Ends with Socrates quote at time of his death.
1999 “Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.” Guest Editorial, Albuquerque Tribune. Founding precepts of the country erode without participation and re-affirmation by the citizens.
1999 Letter published in Wall Street Journal regarding the habitual slandering of those who conducted the war in Vietnam.
1999 “The Next Millennium.” Guest editorial in Albuquerque Tribune. Changes come about through science, social upheaval, etc. but over thousands of years human nature is still predictable: We still want to be free and safe. Concepts of what is good will remain. Interpretations of how the good comes about will differ. And at times concepts about who will deserve or bring about the good will differ, too. Freedom and safety will continue to be paramount goals.
1999 Eulogy for Bettina Steinke. Her message was: “Get that drawing right. Forget the little things.”
2000 Letter to Senators Domenici and Bingaman regarding election procedures (Bush v. Gore). Lessons learned in election of 1952—Patrick J. Hurley v. Sen. Dennis Chavez. Detailed suggestions.
2001 “Human Progress in Creating Large Societies.” (Letter to a man seeking a career in politics.) Human nature evolves so slowly, it has remained essentially the same for five thousand years. Gradual changes in political organizations: strong man with “enforcers” with rules evolved from small, tribal organization. Stable, organized governments often incorporated religion. U.S. government. Others (Islam) back to religious control: September 11, 2001.
2001 Construction and design of model airplanes from scratch. Written for Model Aviation magazine.
2004 Letter to Wall Street Journal regarding criticism of Bush and Rumsfeld by columnist Mark Halprin. (Not published.)
2004 Letter to John Clark regarding accepting photos in ASAA art shows. If they compete well, let them in.
2005 Letter to Scientific American. Precise definitions are required for precise thinking. (Not published.)
2005 “Our Human Condition.” And “We Live in Perilous Times.” We strive to give our society order with laws that guide behavior. Religions are systems that strive to understand the unknown as well as to order societies and control interactions and wealth. Islam is loose on the world today with a dual role of controlling behavior and wealth (from oil).
2005 Westheimer lectures at University of Oklahoma about the NCWHM project, with aside to students about career in art. Detailed account of the five triptychs from design of special easel, materials and the theory behind creating the visual experience in the room.
2005 Correspondence with Noble Foundation regarding Red River mural.
2006 Lecture to Confederate Air Force, Moriarty, NM. Regarding his early flying experience in gliders and West Point and right after WW II.
2007 Colorado Springs reunion of ’45 West Point air cadets. Lecture to Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center docents. Scientific advances lead to successful representation, but without emotion you have nothing valuable.
2007 “Painting Big Paintings, the Mural Project.” Address at Prix de West Show, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Trips to Europe led to research on proper materials, importance of light on the work, awareness of viewers’ perspective. Materials used allow for murals to be relocated if necessary, in the future.
2007 Discusses global warming related to perihelion and aphelion. Predicts slow cooling in northern hemisphere for 35-40 years beginning 2010-2011, then repeat of warming cycle about 2080.
2007 About use of precise words to describe natural physics. Definitions must be precise. Using the term, “parallel lines on a rubber sheet” to imagine or discuss relativity, Wilson says no.
2007 Human intelligence. Humans construct imaginary orders and maintain belief in those constructs, i.e. religions, scientific “descriptions,” etc. The “orders” go back as far as we can trace; they evolve and are seemingly an inevitable aspect of humanity. (And even his horse with porcupine quills in its nose and lips reasoned that it needed to be helped: Each time a quill was pulled out, although it was painful, the horse came back until all eight or nine of them were removed.)
2007 Historical development of painting as an art form. Lecture to New Mexico Art League, Albuquerque.
An American Symphony. Notes on four movements using Western ballads like “Red River Valley” and “The Streets of Laredo” for melodic lines intertwined.
The West as Inspiration. Nature doesn’t stimulate art, art stimulates art. No landscape paintings in early art, Indian, Spanish.