Did you know that there’s a theater on the second floor of the Apple Store in Soho? I confess that I did not. In fact, I’m not sure I’d ever been on the second floor of said store until this past Monday (August 8) when I walked up the pale lucite steps (or whatever kind of steps they are) to take my place with the sixty or seventy other people who had come out for “Looking for Dragons,” the latest installment of the store’s Meet the Artist series. This night, the artist was my friend Bill Hayward, a passionate and relentlessly innovative photographer, painter, filmmaker, and choreographer.
Hayward began by showing his portraits of musicians, politicians, artists, and actors—images first published in magazines such as Rolling Stone, Interview, and GQ. Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan, and Robert Duvall all made appearances. “He was a lot like the characters he played,” Hayward said of Duvall. Sonny Rollins popped onscreen, grinning and looking toward the ceiling, his sax cradled in one arm at his side. Later, a close-up of a cruel-eyed man who did not smile. “Anyone know who that is?” Hayward asked. “Anyone?” It was Roy Cohn, whose baleful legacy was cemented during the Army-McCarthy hearings in the 1950s.
Despite his success, Hayward told us he’d grown restive as a portrait photographer. “I can tell you how to sit and I can light you and dress you and make an image….but in the end it's not so much about you as what I did to you, and in the end I found the process hollow and unfulfilling.” He described how his focus expanded from the face to include the whole body, in motion or at rest. He showed photographs he’d manipulated in the dark room, or developed into prints and painted on, waxed, or changed by some other means. One particularly powerful piece (top) had begun life as a black and white close-up of a woman’s face that Hayward had shellacked directly onto a specially designed raw wood frame then driven through with screws and covered with in beeswax.
Hayward shared several clips and stills from his current film project, Asphalt, Muscle and Bone, as well as a generous selection of images from his ongoing series “Portraits of the Collaborative Self,” for which Hayward reverses the usual relationship between the photographer and subject. Hayward’s subjects