William Iaculla, American Iconoclast
by Michael Pauker
William (Bill) Iaculla presents his art to us with an impishly subversive twinkle in his eye. He is, in point of fact, an octogenarian scamp, and his body of work as a whole represents a delightful critique of the assumptions and expectations of convention.
In conversation, Iaculla clearly and forcefully demonstrates an awareness that art has been for him, all along, a renewable source of personal liberation. Art delivered the goods for him, and he, in his turn, has delivered the goods to us.
Iaculla’s chameleon-like way with style has allowed him,throughout his career, to float between figuration and abstraction, between sculpture and painting and printmaking, serenely innocent of the constraints of consistency. The great fun of putting together a retrospective exhibition of his work lies in discovering the common threads that weave their way through such disparate pieces. Whatever medium Iaculla is working in at the moment, his approach is that of a tireless tinkerer, inventing techniques and novel combinations of materials as the internal dictates of the piece he is currently concocting demands.
Iaculla generally describes himself as a sculptor, and, indeed, when visiting his home and studio the first thing one notices is the profusion of sculpture that adorns, or inhabits, his property. Once indoors, the creative efforts of a career of seven decades and counting are displayed all over, but are also stacked in great, tottering piles, against walls, bulging from over-stuffed closets, crammed into the warren of small buildings that cumulatively constitute Iaculla’s studio in the backyard.
His is an oeuvre that is crying out to be shown, and the Branner Spangenberg Gallery is honored to be able to show even the small portion of it that is hanging in the present exhibition. Between his long career as an influential teacher at the Pacific Art League, and his colorful reservoir of stories about his life as an artist, and the richly varied work itself, if Iaculla had spent his life working in Japan he would have long since achieved Living National Treasure status. In any event, his work, steeped as it is in a personal iconography that stretches back to the Nineteen Thirties, has surely been its own reward. As curator of the present exhibition, I will say that it was an honor to work with Bill on the selection of the work, and that it gives me great pleasure to be part of the effort to make his work more widely known.