Bow 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. Thayer 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 that he craved. After becoming disenchanted with commercial art in the Illustrations department, 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 been know to say, “I learned more about music in art school than I ever would have at music school.” Thayer’s paintings have never been properly catalogued or stored, but a few pieces have survived as gifts, commissions or within his family. A water main breakage in his Vermont house destroyed all the works that remained with him. 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 his first-ever solo exhibition.
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It's What You Bring Back (White River Gallery, March 9 - April 9, 2019)
The words “vacation” and “retirement” are not part of my vocabulary. I have always made art, and as long as I am alive and able, I always will. 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.
Many of these pieces 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.
Another form of travel has been revealed in both my music and visual work in recent years - that is, the journey into one’s mind. Although I am no stranger to the use of substances that bring on altered states, a long overdo return to psychoactive plants and entheogens has infiltrated its way into my studio work. The “live” paintings serve as markers or resources that help navigate a deep quest for a higher realm. I do not consider these pieces to be traditional psychedelic art (I do not make them when I am tripping) but specimens of integration back into everyday existence.
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. 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. 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.