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A Tribute to the Life and Art

  Billy Ray McCauley                (1931 - 1989)
Billy Ray McCauley was born February 28, 1931 in Olustee, Oklahoma.  He was the sixth child of seven children of Robert Wade McCauley (Wade) and Roberta Rebecca Troy Brackett McCauley (Bertie).  The family moved to Hillsboro Texas in June of 1936 where Bill attended schools in Hill County where his art talents were recognized.  As a senior at El A'guila Hillsboro High School, he illustrated the school's 1947 Annual High School Album in a whimsical western theme.  


Bill served in the US Navy from December 1948 to November 1952 as a radio operator aboard the USS Chilton APA 38.  After the service, he attended North Texas University in Denton Texas where he acquired his Fine Arts Degree.  Bill's first one man show was in Dallas in 1957 which was followed by many others in Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco, Columbus (Ohio), Atlanta, Providence, Boston and New York City.  In 1958 he taught Social Studies and Art at Stell Junior High School in Brownsville Texas.  

Faculty Photo and School Album

Bill usually went by Bill or Billy Ray, but periodically he would use another combination such as in his faculty photo.  For most of his art work, he signed simply 'McCauley' but his very early work was signed 'b.McCauley' and periodically he also used 'MacCauley' and William R McCauley.

The "Mandala Wheel" offered in this ad is a signed and numbered 500 serigraph edition in which the graphics were individually created and screened in Bill's studio in Austin in the 1970's.  The artist Fred Eric Spione worked with Bill during this time and they produced some collaborative works together including the "Mandala Wheel".  Click on the ad to enlarge for more information on this piece. 


Bill lived at various times and for most of his later life in New York City.  He also spent time overseas in Amsterdam and returned to Austin Texas to reside for most of the 1970's.  At different times he lived in Dallas, San Francisco, Oklahoma City, Brownsville and Frederick, Maryland.  Intermittently he also spent time in Mexico, a country and culture that influenced much of his art over the years.   As a young artist, he was chosen to represent "Young American Painters" in the D.D. Feldman collection which toured the U.S., Europe, India and the Middle East.  One of his paintings, "Man with Mandolin" from that tour hung at Love Field in Dallas for many years.  Bill McCauley was a prolific and versatile artist working in oils, acrylics, watercolors, graphics, lithographs and vibrant silk screens.  He maintained a studio in the Soho district in New York City for much of his career.  Some of Bill's Lithograph works can be viewed at the Smithsonian American Art Collection

Bill utilized different art media, often mixing unusual combinations.  As a young painter he would visit construction sites to pick through the waste pile for wall board and other materials that he could use to paint on as he could not afford stretched canvases at that time.  Many of his works were also painted directly on the wall as murals at various private homes, hotels, motels, restaurants and other places of business.  

"The Chateau" and several others were painted for the French restaurant of the same name at the Rio Motel in Oklahoma City in which Bill mimicked the style of Toulouse Lautrec to help create the atmosphere and style for the restaurant. 

He often used what was at hand such as brown paper bags and applied thinned paint with toothpicks to obtain unique detail in the drawing.  Sometimes he posed for pictures in order to study details such as how the robes fell for his graphic series on preachers.  He would also repeat an idea or theme in various media and colors.

Periodically galleries would advertise his art that was available for purchase in ads and pamphlets.  Click on the above ad of the "Preachers" to enlarge to read the information.  The following ad for the lithograph "Fiesta de Flores" was believed to have been listed in the "National Observer" magazine.

Various publications also used his art work,

including the following.

Bill's watercolor of a dancer was utilized in this invitation for a Champagne Buffet of the West Side Cultural Center promoting their dance series at the Beacon Theatre in New York City in 1988.

One of Bill's most unique projects was his unorthodox version of the classic story of Cinderella which he also incorporated into a play, "If the Shoe Fits" .  Although the play was never produced, Bill's illustrated story of "Cinderella" was published and is still available through Amazon.  This is a story for all people - big people as well as little people, complete with very detailed illustrations by Bill and Thomas Adams.  You can read more in the newspaper Reviews of Cinderella and other works by Bill.     
One evening at a restaurant, Bill was approached by the author Peter Morwood to pose as the sorcerer for his book "The Horse Lord" for the front cover illustration done by Neal McPheeters.  Bill was very excited as it allowed him to get in costume and pose.  He always enjoyed the theatrical from his early high school days in the drama club.  Bill was given the proof which he shared as a Christmas greeting to the family.
As with the variety of his art, Billy Ray's interests encompassed a wide variety of projects over the years, combining his art with endeavors to highlight his southern origins with his & family recipes and his Chef talents as Co-founder in 1978 of Sun Rise Natural Foods in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  It featured "good ol' home cookin' in a small Tea Room type dining" in this green store which combined sale of potted plants, cut flowers and whole natural foods along with art works by Bill that was a lunchtime haven for Ruidoso's business community.
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Bill's love of the dramatic are exhibited in these two photographs to a friend's wife who wanted a picture of him to go with the stories she had heard from her husband.
The following are photographs of Bill while visiting friends in Amsterdam (1970's).
Next are photos of Bill with friends in Tuxedo Park, NY and at 'Jezebel' restaurant in New York City (1980's).   " was always an adventure when we went...anywhere!  The world just seemed a lot more exciting when he was around."
Bill often sketched whimsical figures as he was constantly applying his thoughts to pen.  The sketches below are from one of his sketch books from the 1970's.  They reflect his fanciful view of life.  Correspondence from Bill was often decorated with his imaginative sketches to emphasize his story. 
Bill 1 (2).jpg
This tribute and information was compiled by his sister, Theta Heard and niece, Barbara Carroll with the help and cooperation of Bill's family.  He will always be remembered by us as the kind, colorful and lovable "Uncle Bill".  The children who knew him thought he was Santa Claus.  Whoever he encountered, Bill left a lasting impression with his great sense of humor, love of life and his distinct theatrical voice.  Bill's talent and art will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come...
Bill McCauley died of a heart attack on February 20, 1989.
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