Author(s): Ellen Treseder Sexauer
William S. Rice (1873–1963), one of the most gifted block print artists of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, created humble yet stunning images that were in harmony with the aesthetics of the Craftsman style. A masterful watercolorist, distinguished teacher, and avid outdoorsman as well, Rice found enduring inspiration in nature—from sweeping vistas to single blossoms.
In 1900 the Pennsylvania native set out across the continent to California, settling first in Stockton and then in the San Francisco Bay Area. The state’s vast terrain became his primary subject, but wherever he went—the Southwest, Alaska, or Europe—he photographed, sketched, and painted landscapes and seascapes. Later in his studio, some of those images became the basis of block prints, etchings, and other prints.
Rice’s practice of working steadily, both as an artist and as a teacher, together with his rich personal life, brought about a variety of outcomes: a profusion of published articles and two teaching texts, several generations of grateful students, an appreciative family, and seemingly endless watercolors, drawings, photographs, and prints of all kinds.
William S. Rice: Art & Life is the first retrospective devoted to the artist. Author Ellen Treseder Sexauer, Rice’s granddaughter, presents a synthesis of scholarly and uniquely personal perspectives, examining the artist’s development, artistic methods, and private life. Insightful passages from interviews with Roberta Rice Treseder, Rice’s daughter, and illuminating excerpts from Rice’s own published articles and books provide an intimate portrait of Rice as artist, naturalist, teacher, writer, and father. More than 300 illustrations—including a wealth of full-color reproductions of paintings and prints along with black-and-white drawings and photographs—convey the mastery of Rice’s work and the breadth of his achievements.