“It’s What You Bring Back” is the title of the first-ever solo showing of the paintings of Bow Thayer, widely known for his musicianship with bands The Benders, the Euphorians, the Perfect Trainwreck and his collaboration with the likes of Levon Helm. The show’ s opening is Saturday, March 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the White River Gallery @ BALE in South Royalton.
The words “vacation” and “retirement” are not part of Thayer’s vocabulary. “I have always made art, and as long as I am alive and able, I always will, asserts the Stockbridge resident. “Traveling is also vital to my existence, but the intention is never to escape or getaway. For me, exploring different places is about learning and collecting material. Whether it is expressed through songwriting and music or a visual form, my journeys are defined by what I return with. That is what these paintings are all about.
Thayer’s interest in visual arts came very early on. As a youngster, drawing pictures played a critical role in his overall development, and a raw talent was recognized throughout his formative years as he received an award for excellence from the Boston Globe and several honorable mentions in scholastic art competitions.
Music, however, began to infiltrate his creative desires and Thayer found himself focusing more on composing and crafting songs with friends starting in middle school. Visual art was not left behind though – if anything, it went hand in hand with his musical exploration. Thayer pursued an academic career in music but after a summer program at the New England Conservatory, he realized this was not the path for him. He made a last-minute decision to apply to art schools, and ultimately chose Syracuse University to begin his studies, before moving to the much more intimate Art Institute of Boston which offered him the personal instruction and mentorship he craved.
After becoming disenchanted with commercial art, he settled in the Fine Arts department and began a love affair with painting that has since influenced all aspects of his life. Thayer’s practice of art has explored many different forms beyond painting, including sculpture, furniture making, and most notably, music.
As Thayer has often said, “I learned more about music in art school than I ever would have at music school.” In recent years, Thayer has actively returned to painting, and it is apparent that his music and visual art have found a thriving balance that is on display in this first-ever solo exhibition.
Many of these pieces on display were done “in the field” or “live.” “I keep a sketchbook and take thousands of photos, but when possible I bring a block of heavy paper and acrylic paint to keep the lenses focused on my current situation. The paintings usually are completed in less than an hour on the hood of a car, a picnic table, in a hotel room or simply sitting on the ground. It is my form of meditation but also provides me something tangible to bring home to my studio,” he says.
“Because my music studio and painting studio currently inhabit the same space, I am afforded the luxury of simultaneously creating both art forms. I can record a drum part, then organ, and guitar or banjo, and then turn to my easel and paint while listening back to the tracks,” he describes.
“I usually do these improvised exercises in 30-minute time frames so that both become intertwined in an ebb and flow of tightening and loosening. The music also helps me overcome a struggle that has persisted throughout my time as a painter… how to understand and appreciate when a painting is complete,” he asserts. “My hope is that these works, visual and musical, can be enjoyed and stand on their own without explanation. But it is also my hope that they provide a path to a more cosmic self-realization, as well as serve as a positive reinforcement in humanity.”
At the Saturday opening, the beautiful art gallery will feature music tracks that merged with his art-making process in his studio. The opening is free and open to all. For more information, contact Chris at BALE (Building A Local Economy) at 802-498-8438.