Arts educator James A. McGrath was a high school art teacher at Columbia High School in Richland, Washington where he taught William T. Wiley in the mid-1950s. They remained life-long friends. Later, McGrath worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe as Director of Arts, Professor of Painting, and Dean. In 1973 he became Director of Arts, Humanities and Culture in the Department of Defense and was stationed in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines. He also worked for the United States Information Agency in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Republic of the Congo. He continues to be active as an arts education specialist.
William T. Wiley (1937-2021) was a contemporary artist painting and teaching primarily in the San Francisco area. His artwork is associated with the Bay area Funk Movement. Wiley studied at the California School of Fine Arts and completed his MFA in 1962. One year later he joined the faculty of the UC Davis art department along with artists Robert Arneson and Roy DeForest. Wiley's students included Bruce Nauman and Deborah Butterfield.
Wiley's first solo exhibition was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1960, and he had works in the Venice Biennial (1980) and Whitney Biennial (1983), as well as major exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco. His artwork is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others. Wiley was the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship Award in 2004 and, in 2009, the Smithsonian American Art Museum presented a retrospective exhibition of Wiley's career.