December 07, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Catworks was/is the featured artist at the Clayton Fine Art Gallery from November 10th to Jan 4th. We had our Holiday Reception on Friday December 6th. We also had a severe blast of arctic snow and ice that froze the furry rear-ends of even the hardiest of my felines. Even mad dogs and Englishmen refused to come out. Of course, this effected sales.
I'm posting a few photos plus one of my granddaughter who was the "greeter" at the reception.
Clayton Fine Art Gallery Kicks off the Holidays with ‘The Visual Storytelling of Cat Works’ Exhibition
Digital artist Jay Thompson, and self-proclaimed curator of Cat Works, has created a feline-populated Victorian-era art world in which cats are almost humanized by their clothing, facial expressions and related bios. Approximately 30 of his newest compositions will be featured as part of Clayton Fine Art Gallery’s holiday exhibition reception, “The Visual Storytelling of Cat Works,” from 6-9pm on Friday, Dec. 6, at Clayton Fine Art Gallery.
Thompson’s work reflects his own beliefs in social responsibility and morals expressed against the leitmotif of mischievous humor. Utilizing period pictures from the public domain depicting severely attired Victorian people—sober men off to an important meeting, a macho-posturing group of circus toughs, a coat-wearing couple on a park bench feeding a flock of pigeons—Thompson harkens back to a time when living was a serious business.
Vintage photographs from the era convey weight and solemnity, but when Thompson manipulates the images and replaces their heads with those of cats, the inherent seriousness is spun on its cat head. A dire world becomes one of fascination and whimsy.
Not only has Thompson created biographies for the pictures themselves, but for the whole Cat Works series, for which he claims to only be the curator, the images having “lain in an abandoned coal cellar, within a forgotten steamer trunk until 1909, when it was discovered by my grandfather,” Thompson writes.
“Cat Works is a fully formed concept of a feline-ruled world built around a time-period that existed 100 to 150 years ago,” Thompson said. “Inexplicable subject matter abounds for my paintings. For example, the cult of the machine, the society of narcissism and politics are all topics visually brought to life by these cats.”
In his latest painting (right), “Keep Calm and Carry On,” cat jurors dressed to the nines are returning from lunch. According to Thompson, the Nine Angry Felines are about to find against science in the “Einstein vs. Jesus: The Right to Free Thought” trial at which “Tea and Milk Party attitudes and beliefs are prevalent.”
The Cat Works exhibition, which is scheduled through January 6, also features work by six guest artists and a variety of resident artists. The gallery, opened earlier this summer by Jim Irwin and Jerry Schmutz, features a wide array of art ranging from oil paintings, pastels and water colors to acrylics, photography, sketching, sculpture and more. Exhibited artwork typically changes every eight weeks.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am-6pm, and Sunday from noon to 5pm. The gallery is located at 21. N. Bemiston. The event is free and open to the public. For more information visit the Clayton Fine Art Gallery website.
The next and last is more personal. From the STL BEACON, by writer and arts reporter Nancy Fowler.
Local artist has a way with fickle felines
Artist Jay Thompson and his granddaughter Jessica literally herd cats. And yes, it’s a two-person job.
When they visit an animal shelter, Thompson woos readily approachable felines while Jessica, 10, wrangles more prospects. But their goal is not to adopt or just play with these cats but to immortalize them in Thompson’s Cat Works photography.
In exchange, he gives the shelter $50, free access to the original photographs and a print of a finished work for display or auction.
Thompson’s images of felines in Victorian garb will be exhibited beginning this Friday at the new Clayton Fine Art Gallery, of which he is a member. It’s Thompson’s first exhibition since his 20s, featuring work born of spare time following his 2007 retirement from film animation.
“My cats and I sat around and came up with this concept. And now, here we are,” Thompson said.
Personal and political
Thompson and his wife, Victoria, are currently down to just one cat -- a 5-year-old Balinese named Lucy Lu -- in their Kirkwood home. Her “only-cat” status breaks a family tradition of cats in pairs.
Thompson’s “She Who Must Be Obeyed” features a feline feminist named Ayesha. Another work, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” shows cat jurors returning from lunch before delivering their verdict in favor of the "Tea and Milk Party." His “Secrecy Promotes Tyranny,” suggests that the mysterious black feline may have once belonged to Dick Cheney.
His themes trend toward liberal points of view, as do the persuasions of most repeat customers, who also tend not to be dog lovers. But many buyers purchase Thompson’s work -- often at art fairs -- simply for its ability to elicit a smile.
“One woman was a couple of months pregnant and was planning her baby’s room,” Thompson said. “She found my work and bought five pieces.”
When Thompson and Jessica visit a shelter -- usually House Spring’s Open Door Animal Sanctuary -- he’ll take up to 500 photographs, hoping to end up with a few dozen useful images.
“My work walks a fine line between kitsch and high art,” he said. “I have to be careful to get the story just right.”
Oh, and if you’re wondering about Thompson’s tricks of the trade -- how to get cats to cooperate -- he boils it down to a couple of suggestions: talk to them and let them sniff you. Sometimes a toy mouse, a feather or a string tied to a stick are
useful, and an occasional on-the-job nip or scratch is inevitable. It helps to be sympathetic to the fickle feline mindset.
Cat Works exhibition
October 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment
The World of Cat Works, in many ways mirrors our own. But like the carnival mirror the reflection is distorted, often showing something familiar yet different.
After five years of classification, preservation and analysis, these unique curios still contain many mysteries but certain facts and foibles have been discovered.
First: They are very much, a dress-up society. It's important to look well turned out even if one is not, so to speak, moneyed. They aspire to elegance and taste, most felines are slaves to fashion.
Related to this point is their attitude toward material conservation. They are not yet a disposable society; things are still mended, sewn, repaired and passed down. A quote from "A Christmas Carol" seems appropriate..."Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, dressed out but poorly, in a twice turned gown but brave in ribbons which are cheap and make a goodly show for six-pence."
Second: "Thoughts on Art as Life".
The above statements reflect the true attitude and beliefs of the common feline. Art cannot be separated from life - they are the same thing.
Next: Traditional family values are prevalent everywhere. Kits are universally loved and protected. Elders are valued for their experience and wisdom. Education, both within the family and without is highly prized.
Other values like independent thought, were once discouraged...but now we find them exploding along with a whole spectrum of progressive ideas.
But all is not cookies and cream, the feline society is riddled with uncertainties and challenges.
LIKE US they have crumbling infrastructure, LIKE US they have political stagnation, LIKE US they have a conservative, bible-thumping minority bent on destroying free society. UNLIKE US (so far) this group had come to total power.
Theodosia (Ted) Cruzcontrol, an arrogant Tea & Milk zealot from Florida led a vicious campaign pogrom. After stealing the election his true agenda took shape...Jackbooted Toms rolled over individual freedoms, crushing rational thought, imprisoning the creative impulse and started new wars of economic expansion to project neo-conservative strategy.
In the most recent election the Progressive Feline Coalition restored some fiscal and emotional sanity by rolling-back the worst of the Tea & Milk Party offenses. BUT it may be some time before our divided Government functions as intended.
We must now hope the better angles of our nature can light the way. The curator finds these curios to be a cautionary tale for our time.
Comment from a new customer:
I was on my Facebook Page, scrolling through some posts from friends, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a tiny ad for your site on the right hand side of the page. Once at your site, I immediately liked the images and when I began reading your commentary, I was hooked. Since today happens to be National Cat Day (who knew?), I actually posted a link to your site on my timeline, encouraging friends to check out your work. Then about an hour later, I was still thinking about your pieces, so I went back and made a purchase. I am a cat lover, but I am also a collector of Outsider Art - my walls are full. Your work, although different in style and medium, will fit in nicely. I’m glad I found you
September 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Late Summer and Early Fall
Three new compositions for your viewing pleasure. I hope you enjoy them. One thing I think you'll note is the brighter pallet---my work used to be very dark--not so much anymore.
The artwork on the right is called THE ENEMY IS SYPHILIS.
Here is my story for THE ENEMY IS SYPHILIS: Conservative media and pundits have created an issue of FEAR, and it surrounds the rise of fundamentalist "Islamic Terror Felines" and their spreading of the Syphilis Virus WMD...as a consequence we have General Simian Softpelt, heading up enlistment efforts for Homeland Security.
My audience for this piece seems to be two main groups; veterinarians and young people.
Three linited editions sizes:
I have been fascinated by the steam-punk movement for a while now, and until this picture I did not know how to work my felines in. After playing around with some non-starter ideas I fell upon "goggles on cats". Well, after I stopped giggling I went to work. I found some good steam-punk goggles on Divant Art and then spend the next couple of days tring on goggles on my furry friends.
I got a group shot of 4 guys sitting around looking at the camera, added some more period dudes then worked in the cat heads (with goggles) and a specially created background.
On the left is my mostly finished picture GOGGLE MEN.
Here is my story for GOGGLE MEN:
My last picture came about because at my last cat shoot (at the Open Door) in August 2013---I came home with two or three great shots that I thought I'd never use because...well... they looked like criminals and slightly evil. At least two of them do.
The obivious thing to do is create a WANTED POSTER..so I did, a little creative writing, some texture and blending secrets, mix with evil cats and public domain photos from the 1920's...and presto!
SHOW AND TELL TIME: Here's a few pictures from my last two shows. The top three are from Lake Forrest, "Art of the Square" Show that is held over the memorial day weekend in this well-to-do northern Chicago suburb.
I've done this show for the last 5 years and it has generally been a profitable show. This will be the last however, as next year I'll being staying home and doing the "Queeny Art Show" (in St. Louis County) the same weekend.
The bottom 4 photo's are from the Schlafly's "Art Outside" show in Maplewood, St. Louis County. It's a three-day (9/6-9/8) alternative art fair features quality and affordable art from local artists.
The reason it's alternative is because it transpires at the same time as the famous Saint Louis Art Fair. it's also a reaction to the lack of St. Louis artists who are allowed to make the big show. There is seldom more than a handful of local artists. They will tell you it's a quality issue, but that's BS.
The other reason for the Schlafly "Art Outside" show is the battle of the beers. The Saint Louis Art Show made a deal with the show muckie-mucks that they would be the only beer to be sold at the show. Well this pissed-off Schlafly Brewing (our local kraft beer brewer) and thusly we have "Art Outside" Beer, brats and art, who would of thunk it.
August 06, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Had three great shows in late June and July. The first one was the Old Town Art Show (June 8-9) in Chicago's near north side. A marvelous show in a great old residential area, a ton of the best artists (250) in the nation and ton of sales. However, I did not take any photos...so...you will just have to use your imagination.
Late in the month was "Artfest Midwest" The Other Art Show at the Des Moines State Fairgrounds. This is one of those shows take place at the same time as a more important show that takes place downtown. This show takes place INSIDE the Varied Industries Building for about 300 artists. June 29 and 30.
I been at this show 4 of the last 5 years and have done better each year. The picture on the right shows my set, this show gives you a ton of display space. See the bird in the ton right corner and left bottom corner? That's Deidra, I purchased her from a very talented 3D artist named Stephen Steininger. Here is his web site. Here is his Facebook page.
While at The Other Art Show I had a customer said she had to own a couple of my pieces because she had two cats who look exactly like the artwork. So the other day an email comes and the photo on the right is her proof. Amazing.
In early July I had one of my most successful art shows this year. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin puts on an great show in the dead of summer called "Art Fair on the Square." 400+ artists from all over the nation (and then some) vie for the attention of perhaps 200,000 buyers, patrons or just plain art snobs. July 13 and 14, 2013.
Catworks (being displayed by it's current curator and his beautiful daughter) sold the magic and mystery of the famous felines to over 120 new customers.
Although I complain about the heat, one must remember it is July...AND THEN there was the Tea Partier who came in to say it not's global warming rather it's the push back of mother nature for our electing of a socialist Afro-American as president.
Now that I think about it, that might of been the governor.
I'd like to thank the executive director of the fair Annik Dupaty for all her hard work, the great position I received on the Square and her support of my most unusual product.
Here is quote from the Madison Sunday paper of the show..."Look closely enough and you will find Internet zeitgeist - pictures of cats with human bodies and acting like people - can be found lurking on The Square."
Being a fairly smart guy I still had to look up the word ZEITGEIST...
How about some great sayings?
After all, is just a play, not?
We are the stories our ancestors told us.
Little handles of fat clinging to my side like determined children.
As needs must, when the devil drives.
July 06, 2013 • Leave a Comment
On your right is my most popular new work, based on comments and SALES at shows for the past 3 or 4 months HELLO KITTY is a winner. It is really one of my most mysterious compositions, at the small size people think it's cute (and they buy a ton). At the medium (14"x16"), and large (20"x24) edition sizes --something else takes place.
The inherit surrealism of the piece kicks-in. This has to do with the amazing matching of the cat head to body and attention to lighting. When studied at large sizes the realism is unnerving, and the "gee...this could almost be real" creepiness has been known to give certain people goose-bumps.
Here is my official story for the composition... "Margaret Softpelt is serving her first time out of the day. The perceived offence, is the wearing of excessive "Hello Kitty" togs.
'Well if you don't want me to wear them why did you buy them' sass...aimed at her Mother probably didn't help.
The Liberal Voice: I don't really have a story for this one, I believe the type says it all.
Well perhaps I do have something to say after all... I really don't like what's going on today, it's not the world of my youth. This is sad really, I always felt that my generation was the best and the brightest and that we would solve all the great issues, explore the solar system, cure cancer and feed the world. All this... plus the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, all the aspirations and dreams of my youth have been swept away...by the triumph of a DARK vision. Of meanness, of stupidly, of arrogance.
I choose to be by the LIGHT. I hope you see that in my work.
The typewriter presupposes the hand that punches it's keys.
The Tea Party presupposes the interest groups that sip from its cup.
Can you tell us a little more about how the prints are made?
Sure. The prints are printed on an EPSON Stylus Pro 3800 printer. This is a professional large format printer that when used in conjunction with tight color management produces excellent results. It's also interesting to note that this printer uses 8 ink cartridges (5 color and 3 levels of black). These are unique high-density pigments for an extremely wide color gamut for true high-quailty prints. I use ILFORD Galerie "Gold Fibre Silk" paper in the 17" x 22" size. Although a very expensive paper, the results you get are stunning.
Why don't you offer your prints framed?
You're pulling our leg here with the whole "mysterious collection of works that has been in hibernation for well over a century" thing, right?
Did you ever see the original Superman movie? The one with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder? In the scene where Lois Lane is interviewing Superman on the balcony, Superman replies, "I never lie Lois", and then he says "pink", which had to do with the color of underwear she was wearing; but she was standing behind a lead planter box...and as you know Superman can't see thru lead. But I digress.
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