Checking in with William Wylie

What are you working on right now?
Recently, I have been working on the files for a new book of photographs taken along Route 36 in Kansas. Flood Editions will be publishing the monograph of these pictures next spring. I basically drove back and forth along this two-lane highway over four years whenever I traveled between C’ville and Colorado in the summers. It is an amazing space that seemed to drop out of time when I-70 went in during the ’50s.

What article of clothing does photographer William Wylie need on every trip? “At least one Bob Dylan t-shirt would have to be there for me to feel complete.”

What is your favorite tool of the trade?
I still prefer large format cameras and film. I use a Deardorf 8" x 10" camera for most of my work but recently purchased a smaller 4" x 5" camera to travel overseas with. I took that 8" x 10" to Italy for seven years with no problems but one day I just got this bad feeling and decided to stop. It is a beautiful old camera and I would hate to lose it.
Have you traveled recently?
I was in Verona, Italy, for the printing of my Carrara book last year. That was marvelous since it was winter and right near the Alps and the winter festivals were spectacular. It was also very cool to be on-press for the printing and watch the pages of my book roll off the plates. Then last summer I was back out West for a month of fly-fishing and backpacking in Colorado and Wyoming with my wife, Kay. She is an awesome hiker and fisherwoman and we travel in the backcountry well together.
Do you plan to present your work in the near future?
I have a show in New York at my gallery, Jenkins Johnson, opening February 11. Additionally, the Arizona State University Art Museum is showing four of my Carrara video pieces in a two-person exhibit of video art in February.
What would you say is inspiring about Charlottesville right now?
The Bridge continues to be inspiring to artists and the community. Also, there is some really good food in that central Belmont piazza.
When you’re in a creative mood, what is your favorite snack food?
Is coffee a snack food? I like it with a good cookie, especially that Everything Cookie from Take-It-Away. Caffeine and sugar never fail to enhance that creative mood—let’s just not get in an argument.
Tell us about a big idea that you’ve been carrying around with you.
This film about [artist] Fred Sommer is the one I am carrying about. I shot some great footage last spring with his old assistant and in his archives and I recently got access to old video footage and audio recordings—including an interview with Studs Terkel!—from when he was still alive that looks amazing.
Any upcoming events you plan on attending?
Iron & Wine at The Paramount looks to be good. I am waiting for something like Bill Callahan or Will Oldham to play The Jefferson.
What music are you listening to lately?
I am in a traditional music phase. I keep listening to the American Primitives Collection of Pre-War Gospel tunes from the ’20s and ’30s, and anything Roscoe Holcomb did.
What item do you carry with you at all times?
I always wear a pendant that my wife made for me. It has a tiny copy of the crucifix from Assisi that spoke to St. Francis and a small figure of the Hindu deity Ganesha. I don’t wear either for personal religious reasons, but for the symbolic power they represent to protect and remove obstacles.
Guilty pleasures?
Way too much TV, whole roasted chickens and Tanqueray Gin. Sometimes all at once.