Organizations* : AOA, NAWA
A trompe l’oeil oil painter known for his highly realistic still lifes, often combining objects of the present and the past, William Acheff became a resident in 1973 of Hondo, New Mexico (near Taos) where he has his studio at his home.
He was born in Alaska and moved with his family to San Francisco when he was five years old. Acheff lived in the Bay Area for twenty years and began painting in 1969 when, working as a barber, he came in contact with Roberto Lupetti, an Italian artist. Acheff took art lessons from Lupetti, receiving as well more mundane help, including marketing advice with gallery representation in northern California.
At first Acheff worked from photographs, but changed his technique to working from the objects themselves. He positions his subjects several feet from his easel and paints them in the northern light of his studio. Acheff is intrigued by what he calls “the ethnic quality of the artifacts. There’s a purity in them. Nothing’s manufactured by machine. There sits a pot. The whole mood of what went into making that pot is a story, and that’s what I want to capture.”
Acheff brings to his art a background rich with influences of his Georgian and Athabascan Indian heritage. His work is noted for an incorporation of Native American pottery, drums, blankets, fetishes and other arrangements of Southwestern memorabilia and relics. He states, “I always find that artifacts and traditions of the past seem to hold more mystical and aesthetic values than those of contemporary times." Fortunately, his proximity to the numerous New Mexico pueblos provides Acheff with a fertile field for such portrayals.