Will Duncan’s love for art has taken him around the world, visiting ancient ruins, perusing the Louvre and digging in the desert.
Now, after taken a liking to our small Southern town, he’s opened The Art House and carved a niche in the local arts community.
“I can’t imagine a time in my life where I wasn’t doing something creative,” he shares.
An Illinois native, Will’s passion led him deep in the New York City art scene in the early ’80s, working with the legendary Merrill Chase, who worked as the American liaison to such renowned artists as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.
Duncan immersed himself in the art world, saving his money to travel to London and Paris.
“I just wanted to absorb and experience the art scene everywhere, soak it all in,” he says.
He later found himself in Chicago, where he worked alongside Yoko Ono as she prepared the first world tour of John Lennon’s body of art.
Yoko wasn’t Duncan’s only brush with celebrity, as he spent years in the company of Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas, helping them choose artwork for their home and stage act. It was there he and his brother opened their first art gallery in 1990.
“Vegas is great,” he laughs, “like no other place in the world. It has its own unique art scene, too, very welcoming.”
Duncan’s certainly seen enough of the world to know. He’s visited 26 countries, including an extended stay in Israel where he spent time excavating Megiddo, the largest archeological find in history.
Joining the Peace Corps as he neared 50 was an eye-opening experience for Duncan, who discovered first hand the effects of terrorism on Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
There he worked with children, sharing pads and pastels, providing a creative outlet for struggling youth.
He’s written a book chronicling his time in Uzbekistan with the Peace Corps and, using knowledge from his travels, he’s writing a set of young adult novels, an Indiana Jones-type series for the new millennium, entitled “Artifact Man.”
“It’s life changing,” Duncan said of the Peace Corps, “and I encourage people of all ages to consider it.”
Duncan is also the director of the local Cultural Arts Commission, whose focus, he says, “is to continue the growth of the artistic community and give new opportunities to those within the arts.”
With the help of Doug Timmons at Murfreesboro’s Parks and Recreation Department, Duncan created the annual Greenway Arts Festival, giving artisans an opportunity to feature their work each September.
Influenced by our great state’s love of sports, Will is currently working on a series of paintings showcasing sports greats like Lance Armstrong and Peyton Manning. His realistic interpretations are interlaced with streaks of brightly colored acrylics.
“I like to throw the paint,” he says, excitedly. “It really brings out the action in the work, exposing the energy of the athletes. Sports are really emotional and the bright colors coincide with that.”
See the series for yourselves at The Art House, which also displays the work of 25 or so others, including Will’s brother, James, and their artistic father, who used his own talents to encourage both his sons to express themselves creatively. And Papa is also the focus of Will’s children’s book, “On a Possum’s Back.”