May 2010: Header image: Blue Boat, watercolor by Douglas Chambers
Header image: Blue Boat, watercolor by Douglas Chambers

Featured Artist: William Gerrish

Last updated: May 1, 2010

..William Gerrish.

William Gerrish

Although William Gerrish grew up and went to school in the Sault, his work may be new to many of you because most of his professional career has been in Houston. He returned to the Sault in 2006 to care for his parents. Since his return he has been working with the Olive Craig Gallery Board, the Chippewa County Historical Society and the Soo Theatre Project, and entering juried shows. Recently he launched a new enterprise, Homage Creative Arts ( and we’ll return to that topic later. Next month he will share the Olive Craig Gallery space in a dual exhibition, “Fish Stories and Other Works”, with Jeremy Ripley.

Bill says, except for a brief flirtation with a career as Superman, he always wanted to be a commercial artist. Immediately after graduation from Sault High in 1973, he went to Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids where he learned that the world of art was “not just cartooning”. There he found that

“the key . . . is exposing yourself to all kinds of art. I do not mean techniques and mediums, not to exclude those, but to different directions art can take you. . . I am reminded of a saying, ‘I may not know art, but I know what I like’. In what they say, do they really mean ‘I only like what I know’? With art one should be comfortable with being exposed to new ways of seeing. You never know where it can lead.”

At Kendall, Gerrish became immersed in the world of sculpture, painting, art history and figure drawing. After he graduated he went to Houston, where things were booming, and found a job at the University of Texas Medical School, creating graphics for teaching and research. Ten years later, inspired by a trip to the Grand Canyon, he quit that job and shortly after that went into partnership with a former colleague doing graphic design and illustration. The partnership lasted sixteen years, after which both artists were burned out. What followed were freelance jobs, but the need to do something completely different resulted in his launching a home improvement company, which specialized in basic remodeling projects. He still loves making things with his hands.

Along the way, intrigued by the permanence of stone and the satisfaction of shaping it, he developed a love of sculpture. (Two of his sculptures were in the February sculpture exhibit in the Olive Craig Gallery and two were accepted in the 2009 Crooked Tree Juried Art Exhibit.) Another love is figure drawing. (“I never have a bad session drawing, even when things don’t go well. I always feel I have accomplished something of value”.) Sculpture and figure drawing are what he wants to pursue in the future. In the meantime, graphic art still pays the bills. Gerrish says that money is not a driving force in fine art as far as he is concerned—that if you want to be a fine artist, you don’t do it for a reason. You just do it. One should note, however, that he always manages to support himself.

We asked Bill what he would do if money were no object. He said he would have a nice house with a separate building as his studio. Torn between city life and country living, he enjoys a vibrant arts community but also the solitude of nature. He would love to spend the rest of his life sculpting interspersed with travel abroad, visiting museums and galleries. He likes to fish, commenting that

“It is not the catching so much as the experience of being near water and wondering what is down there. I liken fishing to gambling. Although I am not a gambler, I like the feeling of maybe the next cast will bring in the big one”.

He likes to cook, and thinks that life as a fine chef would be his second choice for expression while making a living. He loves the great outdoors.

Gerrish’s newest enterprise, Homage Creative Arts, grew out of his experience clearing our his parents’ house after their death. He was finding things that were of sentimental value to him even when they were worn out, broken or seemingly useless. Having observed that found objects have the patina of age and a sense of history he used his composition skills and techniques to begin making assemblages.

Two of his assemblages took Honorable Mention in the 2009 “Home” juried show in the Olive Craig Gallery and two were in the Greater Michigan Art Exhibition at the Midland Center for the Arts. Reasoning that others might have objects of sentimental value that they wanted to keep but didn’t know how to display, he decided to offer his services through “Homage Creative Arts”—a high end approach to archiving family treasures under glass by creating unique custom memorabilia, keepsake and heirloom shadowboxes. The idea, he says, is “to get those cherished keepsakes out of the cardboard box that is hidden in the closet, attic or basement and display them in a fashion that everyone can enjoy for generations”.

One is left with the sense is that Gerrish is a person who is flexible, open to new experience and new directions, and confident enough in his skills to probe boundaries and venture into the unknown. You can meet Bill at the reception for his June exhibit, Fish Stories and Other Works, with Jeremy Ripley.

You can find out more about him and can see more photos of his work on his two web sites: Homage Creative Arts (at and William Gerrish Studio (at If you have memorabilia and would like him to assemble it for you, give him a call at 906-322-0120.

Works by William Gerrish
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Element of Danger, sculpture by William Gerrish

Element of Danger

Female Nude, drawing by William Gerrish

Female Nude

Letter Home, assemblage by William Gerrish

Letter Home assemblage

Trophy, sculpture by William Gerrish


Homage Creative Arts: Custom Memorabilia, Keepsakes and Heirloom Shadowboxes

Ad for Homage Creative Arts

Sault Area Arts Council Home Page 217 Ferris Street, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
e-mail: Phone: (906) 635-1312