Rez Williams produces large paintings of vibrantly colored fishing boats, paintings that are as mercurial and moody as the ocean the boats work. Some depict the hulking vessels at rest, others show them steaming toward or alongside the viewer, and yet others show them in the distance, appearing vulnerable between a dynamic sea and sky. The perspective begins down along the waterline, so the vessels loom, and Rez extends the color palette well beyond the reality of the boats and their environment. 

– Jim Miller, Martha's Vineyard Magazine, July 2011 


He paints out of West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, but he’s about as far from one of those sticky-sweet chroniclers of island life and times as one can get. His scenes of the Vineyard smash into your eyes like crescendos. The spaces warp and move. The colors clash and rebound. You gaze at something like “Gay Head Light” for a few seconds and you get out of breath. Williams is light-years beyond the Vineyard, yet no one has distilled it better.

– Thomas Hoving, late director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, Cigar Aficionado magazine, Summer 1999


Williams contrasts dock life with life at sea in the paintings. By stressing nature’s scale over man’s intrusion within the waterscape, the paintings impress upon the viewer how much nature dominates the life of a fishing vessel…From the angles stressed by his skillful manipulations of the picture plane, scale is emphasized, while the character of the trawlers is revealed through the physical condition and tension between the stern and bow construction, as well as the use of vibrant paint color.

– Mark H.C. Bessire, director, Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art


As viewers, we are provided dramatic access to the life of such boats and an almost dizzying perspective of swelling waters. Combining his painterly styles and interest in the human presence and impact on the landscape, this series confirms Williams’s independent spirit and constant need to challenge himself and the viewer.

– Mark H.C. Bessire, director, Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art


His clean lines and renderings are integrated into heroic shapes expressed in bold colors. His working boats are depicted close up, solid and heavy and floating on shades of blue. His images, all bulk and dignity, shimmer with energy. One can feel the steel of the hull, sense the power of its movement. His skies, like his water, often come in unexpected hues, off-center pinks, or invented shades of green in designs that fit together like an elegant puzzle.

 – CK Wolfson, Cape Cod Life magazine, 2006


The seas on which the ships loom, hulking and solid, are blood red, sometimes blue-black, or mutations of orange in jagged interlocking shapes that form an alliance with inventions of sky. It is a concert of energies expressed in form and color – large dramatic canvases that merge the representational and the abstract in a manner so crisp and bold you can almost hear the spark and crackle.

– CK Wolfson, Vineyard Gazette, 2004


Each of the pieces is marked by the artist’s signature abstract oil strokes – extreme, slashing twists of color and style that pay little attention to the conventional boundaries of reality…they warp everyday sensibilities, dislodge emotions and challenge.

– Jason Gay, Vineyard Gazette, 1995


“Portraits of the Working Ships of New Bedford” paints the city’s waterfront as a vibrant, energized location. It is a perfect exhibition for visitors to the “Whaling City” to connect today’s waterfront activity to that of the whaling days, so well depicted at the Whaling Museum. Rez Williams has “written” a love story to the fishermen of this harbor through these paintings and his explanation of them.

– Mary Schubert, New Bedford Standard-Times, 2001