William J. Durkin has spent more than 30 years trying to capture the fleeting luminescence of fish that so entranced him as a boy growing up in the Bay Area. In 1990, he moved to Woodstock and opened the Gypsy Wolf Cantina, which was a local destination for Mexican food until it shuttered in 2015. Throughout this time, Durkin toyed with painting and metal sculpture, before finally finding his medium of choice in button collage.
"The Shoaling" is an assembly of 40 fish sculptures that Durkin has created over the years, part of which will be exhibited at the Woodstock Artists' Association and Museum this month. These sculptures are impressive specimens to behold. With the iridescence of mother-of-pearl, the sparkle of gold foil, and the refractive glimmer of colored plastic, they very nearly achieve the elusive, luminous ideal Durkin seeks, even if the artist will never be satisfied.
Part biological study, part folklore, part environmental activism, each sculpture and its accompanying caption is an homage that informs and delights. (Of the lemon shark, Durkin writes "social and non-threatening with poor eyesight." Of the bonefish he writes, "one of the three species that can disturb fly fishermen's dreams.")
"FOCUS: Gaia 2019" is a group show at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum featuring two of Durkin's fish sculptures. The exhibition runs March 9-31; the opening reception is March 16, from 4-6pm. Woodstockart.org