This cycle spans the years 1958 to 1970.

Bill's home city. Working class New Year's Parade.

Outlandish costumes in wild colors.

This excerpt is drawn from Pat Utermohlen's 2006 Essay of Bill.

            ... In the great wide world  outside our English media began to bombard us with stories of the Vietnam war. This was the time of the student anti-war marches, in America and England. We were on holiday in Europe, driving from Paris to Amsterdam to visit an old friend of William’s from the Oxford days now living in Amsterdam and lecturing at the University. We stopped over in Brussels and after leaving dinner at a café we came upon a lighted window showing the television news of some sort of student riot. We continued our journey to our friend’s house where we found him in a great state of concerned agitation explaining that the night before we had seen the Kent State Riots and August Fry (our friend) was convinced that this was the beginning of  the disintegration of our secure world . Dr Fry frequently came to London always visiting and often staying with us. Originally from Chicago he had married a woman from Holland and elected to stay in Europe. Both he and William were obsessed with the news from America, both relieved, but somehow guilty not to be serving in this  unpopular war. This is the psychological background for the next large series William began to paint  which he called ‘The Mummers Parade’.

            William worked on these  with great intensity, I now realise they combined his ambiguous attitude to his past life with his current obsession with the Vietnam war. In South Philadelphia, when William was a small boy there was once a year a time of great excitement, the Mummer’s Parade held on New Years Day. The procession still continues but it is much changed. In William’s pictures we see the men parading circa 1942-5, the time of the second World War . At that time in the parade only men took part, always dressed as women, blacked up and wearing overshoes painted gold and they danced to the tune of ‘Golden Slippers’ dressed in the most elaborate costumes. Marching in ethnic groups, often to the tune of black musicians. The men and boys who marched were  white, mostly men working by day in the dockyards of South Philadelphia. But for this one day the city was theirs, they marched in the freezing cold up Main Street to City hall. The men had taken the whole year to practice the ‘strut’ and the wives, not allowed to take part, had fashioned the costumes. William longed to be part of it, learning the strut and begging his father to allow him to join in the celebration, but the older William was fearful that his beloved only child would have an accident. The young William could only stand on sidelines longing to be part of  the excitement. All of his current feelings about the poverty and the latent brutality of South Philadelphia is in these pictures, the frenetic dancing backed by the figures of the Philadelphia police with their truncheons at the ready, his almost brutal contemporary dismissal of his family, his longing to get away and the overwhelming guilt following his abandonment of his home and country, overlaid with his current  anger and frustration over the war in Vietnam. This all culminates in a huge canvas ‘Old Glory’ circa (72x120 inches). The American flag (post Jasper Johns) had become an ambivalent symbol. In William’s childhood, the days at school had always begun with the saluting of the flag. Now the flag seemed to stand as a symbol of imperial arrogance, and also a banner for anti-war protesters. In this picture William combines the heroic figures of the horsemen of the apocalypse with the tragic figures of the remembered dock workers, reminding the onlooker, in this war, young men could escape the carnage it if they had the money to continue their education, perhaps even leave the country to study abroad.

 

 To view the images from the Mummers Cycle you can scroll down this page or to view the slideshow click here 

to view the studies for this cycle click here.

utermohlen-1958-ink on paper-20x27cm

Mummers

William Utermohlen, 1958

Ink on paper, 20 x 27  cm

 

utermohlen-1968-don t try to clark street me-101x101cm

Don't Try to Clark Street Me

William Utermohlen, 1968

mixed media, 101 x 101 cm

utermohlen-1968-jazz musicians 2-mixed media-21x15cm

Jazz Musicians 2

William Utermohlen, 1968

mixed media, 21 x 15 cm

 

utermohlen-1968-jazz musicians 3-mixed media-255x210cm

Jazz Musicians 3

William Utermohlen, 1968

mixed media, 255 x 210 cm

 

utermohlen-1968-jazz musicians 4-mixed media

Jazz Musicians 4

William Utermohlen, 1968

mixed media

 

utermohlen-1969-golden slippers-oil on canvas-107x137cm-gallery d dendt-71

Golden Slippers

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil on canvas, 107 x 137 cm

 

utermohlen-1969-gold derby-oil on canvas-41x36cm gallery d eendt-71

 Gold Derby

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil on canvas, 42 x 36 cm

 

utermohlen-1969-man as woman-oil on canvas-51x40cm-gallery d eendt-71

 Man as Woman

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil on canvas, 51 x 40 cm

 

utermohlen-1969-mummers-255x200mm

Mummers

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil on canvas, 255 x 200 cm

 

 

utermohlen 1969 mummers an old man oil on canvas 255x205mm ballot 700

Old Man

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil on canvas, 41 x 36 cm

 

utermohlen-1969-silver oil on canvas-41x36cm

Silver

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil on canvas, 41 x 36 cm

 

utermohlen-1969-three clowns-oil on canvas-61x51cm

Three Clowns

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm

 

 

utermohlen 1969 mummers uncle sams clowns oil on canvas 1060x1375mm 700

Uncle Sam's Clowns

William Utermohlen, 1969

oil, aluminum leaf on canvas, 106 x 137 cm

 

utermohlen 1970 american new year oiloncanvas 72x84cm

American New Year

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 72 x 84

 

 

utermohlen 1970 mummers boy mummer oil on canvas 255x200mm gallery deendt 71 700

Boy

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm

 

utermohlen-1970-dance of death-oil on canvas 122x122cm-gallery d eendt-71

Dance of Death

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 122 x 122 cm

 

 

 

utermohlen 1970 mummers de niro comic club oil on canvas 121x76cm 700

De Niro Comic Club

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 121 x 76 cm

 

utermohlen-1970-derby and cards-oil and gold leaf on canvas-1220x965mm-gallery d eendt-71

Derby and Cards

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 1220 x 965

 

 

utermohlen 1970 mummers double portrait david macdonagh 700

Double Portrait

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 1220 x 965 cm

 

utermohlen-1970-happy-new-year-oil-gold-leaf-oncanvas-122x122cm

Happy New Year

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil and gold leaf on canvas, 122 x 122 cm

 

utermohlen-1970-king jockey in black and gold-oil and gold on canvas-61x61cm-gallery d eendt-71

King Jockey in Black

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil and gold leaf on canvas, 61 x 61 cm

 

utermohlen-1970-liberty-clown-oiloncanvas-86x71cm

Liberty Clown

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 86 x 71 cm

 

 utermohlen-1970-mummers new years shooters and brass band-oil on canvas-106x137cm-gallery d eendt-71

New Year's Shooters and Brass Band

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 106 x 137 cm

 

 

utermohlen 1970 mummers new years morning oil on canvas 87x71cm bob 700

New Year's Morning

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 87 x 71 cm

 

utermohlen-1970-no 1 the costume-oil on canvas

No. 1 The Costume

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas

 

 

utermohlen 1970 mummers old glory oil on canvas 180x301cm 700

Old Glory

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 180 x 300 cm

 

utermohlen 1970 study for old glory pencil ink on paper bob

Study for Old Glory

William Utermohlen, 1970

pencil and ink on paper

 

utermohlen-1970-red-mouth-oiloncanvas-25x20cm

Red Mouth

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 25 x 20 cm

 

 

utermohlen 1970 mummers red tears ol on canvas 255x200mm gallery deendt 71 ballot 700

Red Tears

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas, 25 x 20 cm

 

utermohlen-1970-there is a rainbow around my shoulder-coll ruben and sheila mednick-uk

There is a Rainbow Around My Shoulders

William Utermohlen, 1970

oil on canvas

 

-The End-