‘Gentle places’ highlight Bill Hill’s exhibit

Published 10:50 pm Monday, May 14, 2012

Sometimes an art exhibition shakes you up a little, unnerves you, even shocks you.

Then, there are other exhibits that take you to gentle places where you smile, sigh and blink back tears.

The Bill Hill exhibition at the Johnson Center for the Arts is of the gentle persuasion.

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“Works by Bill Hill: TroyFest 2011 Best of Show Winner” officially opened Thursday with a reception sponsored by the Troy Arts Council. The TroyFest Best of Show winner is a featured exhibitor at the Johnson Center the May of the following year.

“The Bill Hill exhibit features 70 pieces on loan from local collectors of his work,” said Morgan Drinkard, Johnson Center interim director. “It is a great, great show and those who attended the opening reception were amazed at his work, which was most often described as brilliant.”

Joyce Conrad said the Bill Hill exhibit is humorous, nostalgic, unusual and very well executed.

“Bill Hill’s work makes you laugh and it makes you cry,” she said. “It brought back so many memories to me. One of my favorite paintings was of four men and a Model T Ford. It reminded me of my days with my dad. He had a Model A Ford and wore a straw hat – much like the men in the painting.”

As Conrad stood looking a two of Hill’s watercolors with children she got a bit misty eyed.

“The three children, two boys and a girl, were the same in both paintings and they reminded me so much of my own children,” she said. “This exhibit brought back so many memories for me. It was good to remember.”

Bill and Ann Thompson have been fans of Bill Hill’s artwork for about 20 years and have a large collection of his work.

“Bill’s personality comes through in his work, whether he’s doing Clyde the Camel or grandmothers on the front porch,” Ann Thompson said.

“We were at an art show in Pensacola years ago and Bill was into water and scenery. Then, he came to Troy and he was painting animals. His work is varied and that makes it very interesting. I like all of Bill Hill’s work, but his watercolors and pencils are my favorite pieces.”

Thompson said that everyone can enjoy the Bill Hill exhibition.

“Even those who don’t like art exhibits can appreciate this one,” she said. “There is something for everybody. It’s not boring and some of it is funny. Children will enjoy this one.”

Thompson has high praise for the local arts center.

“The Johnson Center is the jewel of Troy. Not many big cities have an art gallery like this. It deserves our support,” she said.

The “Works by Bill Hill” exhibition includes artwork from the collections of Jerry and Cathy Beckett, Mack and Mary Gibson, the late Corley Chapman, Jr. and the Troy Arts Council’s permanent collection.