William stoehr

 "For me the essence of art is the exploration of fundamental issues of our time. I explore intolerance, discrimination, addiction and violence with its victims, witnesses and survivors." | William Stoehr

artist statement

Starting with a vague or elusive expression and an uncertain context, I hope to provoke viewers into visually completing my portraits with their own more complete and ideal mental image and to then create the narrative based on their own experience and feelings. 

We are attracted to faces – it is our nature. If I fill the canvas with a big face then there is little room for external leading context. I think that the large size and closely cropped image creates an elevated sense of intimacy. Searching for meaning, viewers may turn inward to create a subjective reality. 

If I engage you with eyes then I can also start to do other things peripherally with line and color. I can color outside of the lines and your mind will resolve it. Vague and scribbled outlines and graphic vectors become part of a recognizable whole while a hint of “unreal” complimentary and equal value color causes the eyes to seem life-like. I experiment with the amount and type of information required to evoke an image and to find those characteristics that cause the viewer to emotionally respond to the portrait. 

All of my paintings start with a live model and then I work from reference photographs. I have developed a practice of deliberately reacting to less than controlled and/or accidental incidences. 

I use a limited palette of acrylic paint. I vary the coverage, spraying varnish between layers and then scrubbing, scraping, scratching or sanding the surface while applying a variety of marks – strokes, dots and other adjustments. I try not to differentiate between my drawing and painting. 

These paintings tend to be layers of fresh starts. I believe I might have a finished face one day but soon I brush, flow or spill paint all over the surface, leaving traces – a template to guide the next iteration. 

It seems that whenever I think I have a new idea I find someone who did it, sometimes, centuries ago. I am not interested in imitation. I am interested in continuing their inquiries. I consider myself to be a traditional artist in search of ways to build on the past. In the end I am attempting to facilitate alternative emotional experiences through the use of changing and alternating points of view, engaging gaze, uncertain context, elusive emotion and naturalistic cues.


It is an honor for Bill Lowe Gallery to share this historic exhibition with you.  Every painting in it addresses matters that are acutely relevant to our time.  The potency of the images literally “gives face” to a scope of issues that have forged an epic dilemma for humanity, and an equally epic opportunity for healing at a personal and a societal level.  

It is with this hope that we present William Stoehr’s seminal body of work.  Its title,  Victims – Witnesses – Survivors, embraces all of humanity in one way or another.  The visages – the portraits - that compose this show underscore with great eloquence the recognition that “a picture if worth a thousand words”.  In the case of William Stoehr’s work, “a picture is worth a billion words”.   This is, indeed, a visual manifesto.  

We are bombarded daily with statistics related to deaths from domestic and gun violence, AIDS, Ebola and other epidemics, famine, displacement, immigration, poverty, addiction and mental illness – to the point that many have become numb; not because of indifference, but because statistics alone do not tell the story.  It is the faces – the eyes, windows to the soul – that best convey the story.  This is why art becomes the best arena in which to personalize it and penetrate our intellectual and emotional armor.   

These are the times that try men’s souls.   Words written by the great American patriot, Thomas Paine, in 1776, in his unforgettable call to action in “The American Crisis”.  They are indelibly imprinted in our minds.  At that time, the crisis was our nation’s independence – our foundational liberty.  But the words ring as true today as they did then.   Today we face existential threats to our national heart, and our national soul – destruction from within.

A scourge of simultaneous epidemics – inextricably interconnected with one another – pose threat to our very national soul.  These threats equal, if not exceed, threats of foreign terrorism or war.  They include rampant addiction, a universe of mental health problems, violence, discrimination, climate/environmental disasters and disease.   These have become “the barbarians at the gates”. 

These are not uniquely American problems; they reflect a planetary reality – shifting and emerging paradigms that could change our way of life as we know it.  The American psyche is resilient, and the American heart is possessed of infinite compassion and generosity.  But we must look the effects directly in the eye – in the eyes of those whose lives have, and oftentimes, continue to be ravaged by them.

Close examination of these faces also shows - with startling poignancy - the dignity, forgiveness, perseverance, hope and love that is the inevitable possibility of transcending these traumas. 

William Stoehr, on the surface, seems an unlikely candidate to express the emotional composition of these effects on women and men.  But his personal history, which he shares only begrudgingly, told us decades ago who he was.  He was “the guy who could not bear to watch someone bullied on the playground”, the guy with artistic passions but no access to opportunity to develop them early in life. 

His generation was tormented by the Vietnam War and the long overdue upheaval of social systems,  still far from complete even today.  He became an engineer, later worked for several decades, ultimately with National Geographic - overseeing their mapping division.  He traveled the globe and came to see that every instance of abuse, marginalization or discrimination was only a microcosm of a macrocosmic dilemma.  When he achieved financial independence, he committed to return to painting – his heart’s love.

Stoehr comments that it is almost always women and children that are the collateral damage of these gross injustices – injustices almost always perpetrated – and perpetuated - by men.  And yet, all men were birthed by women and were at one time children themselves.  The cycles are undeniable.  And they can be broken, corrected and healed.  Now is a pivotal time in our country, and around the world.  We hope that seeing these women - and men – “face to face” will move you to action – to an action that you choose, to better your community, our nation and the world we all share.

artist BIO


RESILIENCE: In The Eyes, Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha, OK
Space Gallery, Denver, CO

Boulder Creative Collective, Victims, Witnesses and Survivors, Boulder, CO

Space Gallery, Denver, CO

Space Gallery, Denver, CO
Firehouse Art Center, Longmont, CO

Space Gallery, Denver, CO

Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder, CO

Gallery St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Gallery Porto 34, St. Barth FWI

Gallery St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Exhibitrek – The Gallery, Boulder CO

Exhibitrek – The Gallery, Boulder CO
Gallery St Thomas, Virgin Islands

Gallery St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Safety Zone International Exhibition, Virgin Islands

Gallery St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
New Art Gallery, Denver, CO


Den Gallery Kuwait City, Kuwait
Space Gallery, Best of 2017, Denver CO
Dairy Arts Center, Collaboration with sculptor Roger Reutimann, Neo-Cubism – A New Perspective, Boulder CO
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, “Art and Conflict”, Arvada CO
Seven-State Biennial, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha OK and Charles Goddard Center, Ardmore OK (awarded 1st Place)
Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, “Black and White”, juried by Alison Hokanson of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (awarded Special Recognition)
Boulder Creative Collective, Victims, Witnesses and Survivors, one-person exhibition

Art Gym, Political BS, Denver CO
Windows to the Divine, Exhibition 2016, Denver CO
Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, “Color”, juried by Lillian Tone of the MOMA
Bill Lowe Gallery, Carnaval: A New Exuberance”, Atlanta GA
Art Gym, Selfies, Denver, CO
The Great Frame Up, Longmont CO
Space Gallery, Denver CO
History of Visual Arts in Boulder, Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery, Boulder CO

Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, “Black and White”, juried by Christiane Paul of the Whitney Museum of American Art (awarded a Best in Show)
Habitat Gallery, Best of Denver Santa Fe Art District.
Governors Art Show, Loveland Museum. Loveland, CO
Art Students League of Denver, juried by Christoph Heinrich of the Denver Art Museum
Bill Lowe Gallery, “Ancestors: Origins and Return”, Atlanta GA
Gallery St Thomas, Virgin Islands

Florida State University Museum of Fine Art, Tallahassee, FL
Governors Art Show, Loveland Museum, Loveland, CO
New York Hall of Science, Science Inspires Art
Knoll Gallery, Best of Denver Santa Fe Art District
Seven State Biennial, Goddard Art Center, juried by Mark White of the Fred Jones Museum of Art-University of Oklahoma
Space Gallery, Denver, CO

Stephen F. Austin State University, “Texas National”, juried by Peter Selz past MOMA and UC Berkeley Art Museum (awarded 3rd Place)
Knoll Gallery, Best of Denver Santa Fe Art District (awarded Best of Show)
Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA, juried by George T.M. Shackelford of the Kimbell Art Museum
San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, CA, juried by Rene de Guzman of the Oakland Museum of California
Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ - Studio Montclair, juried by Helaine Posner - Neuberger Museum of Art
Arvada Center, “Art of the State”, juried by Collin Parson - Arvada Center and Dean Sobel - Clyfford Still Museum

Barrett Art Center, “New Directions”, juried by Susan Cross of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemp. Art (awarded 2nd Place)
b.j.spoke gallery, “Expo 31”, juried by Margot Norton of the New Museum
Space Gallery, Denver, CO
University of Texas, Tyler, TX Annual International Exhibition

Nassau Community College, juried by Samantha Rippner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (awarded Merit Award)
The Visual Art Center of New Jersey, juried by Joan Young of the Solomon Guggenheim Museum
The Museum of the Living Artist, juried by Roxana Velasquez of the San Diego Museum of Art
Lana Santorelli Gallery, Chelsea NYC, NY
Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery, Boulder CO

Santa Cruz Art League, juried by George Rivera of the Triton Museum of Art
Denver International Airport
Colorado State Capital - Denver Council for the Arts
Denver Botanic Gardens - Contemporary Response to Henry Moore
Metropolitan State University Center For Visual Art, Denver, CO
Denver International Airport - 33 Ideas
Courthouse Art Center, Woodstock, IL, juried by G, Hertzlieb of the Bauer Museum of Art (awarded 2nd place)
Lana Santorelli Gallery, Chelsea NYC, NY

Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery, Boulder, CO

Art Expo, New York, NY

Safety Zone International Exhibitions, Virgin Islands

Safety Zone International Exhibition, Virgin Islands
Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, New York, NY
Beau Art Festival, Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables FL