Arts Lifestyle Reader Contributed

Butch Wandy’s Innovative ‘Micro-Prismatic Images’ on Display at USJ Art Museum

Etude by Butch Wandy. Courtesy image

Butch Wandy’s Micro-Prismatic Images are on display at the Art Museum at the University of Saint Joseph, 1678 Asylum Ave., in West Hartford through Aug. 26, 2023.


When Butch Wandy was 12 years old, he saw a story about abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock in Life Magazine.

“I said, ‘Geez, if he can do that … I can come up with something better than that,’” Wandy joked.

Wandy did in fact come up with something truly original – a series of “micro-prismatic images,” 22 of which are on display at the Art Museum at the University of Saint Joseph now through Aug. 26. More than 50 pieces of Wandy’s work were gifted to USJ in 2022.

“We are very pleased to have received a strong representation of Butch Wandy’s innovative work, which adds strength to our growing photography collection in the area of color abstraction,” said Ann H. Sievers, director and curator of the Art Museum at the University of Saint Joseph.

Wandy’s photographic works are filled with abstract patterns and colors, reflecting his interest in the work of artists like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Arshile Gorki, and Salvador Dali.

“I wanted to mix cubism with abstract expressionism,” he explained.

Wandy was inspired to create his prismatic images more than 40 years ago when he was working as a sales manager for a company that manufactured specialized decorative plastic sheets. Wandy dealt with artists who used the material in their artwork.

“I worked closely with artists like Dali, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol – all the top artists have used it.”

Wandy began using his Olympus OM-4T camera and Fuji film to shoot different images through backlit sheets of the decorative plastic, which was embossed with thousands of micro-lenses. Wandy’s innovative creations are not retouched or digitally manipulated – they are the result of a proprietary technique that he himself developed.

And the works of fellow artists inspired Wandy as well.

He talks about meeting with Dali in New York several times in the early 1970s to discuss a unique Dali collage-lithograph his company was producing. One time they were discussing color selection and Wandy suggested a color that differed from the one that Dali had chosen. As Wandy recalls, Dali agreed, saying, “He has the eye.”

“We got along pretty good,” Wandy said of the eccentric artist.

Born and raised in Hartford, Wandy began taking art classes at The Wadsworth Athenaeum as a child. “I always had artistic talent – I had the gift of creativity,” he said.

After graduating in 1963 from the University of Connecticut, where he trained for two years in the ROTC, he served as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Upon returning home, he got a plum job in the marketing department at Heublein Inc. before his artwork took off.

Since 1998 Wandy has lived and worked in his home/studio at the Community Cultural Center in East Hartford. He still has “tens of thousands” of never-before-seen prismatic images that he hopes to print and share with the public.

Besides the pieces at USJ, Wandy’s work is on permanent display at the UConn Health Center, and a number of companies have commissioned his striking abstract images for the walls of their buildings and offices. His work has won numerous awards, including one from The National Arts Program.

Wandy would like to expose his work to a wider audience. He would like to see his posters and t-shirts emblazoned with his prismatic images.

“I hope to draw people in – ‘Let ‘em know!’” Wandy said. “I want them to take a close look. Did they learn something from it? What did they learn from it?”

Art Museum at the University of Saint Joseph is located at 1678 Asylum Ave., West Hartford. Museum hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

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