Saturday, June 29, 2013

the art of wayne paige

Last weekend, Kris and I embarked on our journey throughout the area as part of the Western Loudoun Studio Tour, 2013.  This was the fourth time for me, and Kris' third tour.  Fortunately, the weather was beautiful and we took full advantage of it on both Saturday and Sunday. We made a loose plan as far as who we wanted to see and where we wanted to go, and unfortunately we didn't cover even half of who we wanted to see over the course of two days.  We were lucky to have been able to visit lots of great artists and their studios and I did, however make it a point that if there was one artist whose work I absolutely had to see, come hell or high water, it had to be the work of Middleburg artist Wayne Paige.

I don't think I had ever seen Wayne's work before, until I looked through the studio tour catalogue. What immediately struck me at first glance was the similarity of Wayne's "clothespin people" with JJ Cromer's signature asterisk characters. Beyond that, the likeness to JJ's extraordinary work ends there, and if both artists have anything in common, it would be their exceptional scope, vision and attention to fine detail and craft.

The trip out to the Middleburg Academy to visit Wayne's studio was a bit of a hike, coming from Leesburg, but a delightful and scenic drive worth every mile. It's interesting to see such unique work coming from an artist in this area, known for celebrating the brutal and barbaric "sport" of fox hunting, a dying local "tradition" depicted in far too many paintings illustrating an idealistic setting in the countryside, masked behind a false sense of dignity and status.  It would seem that Wayne's work was akin to a fish out of water, yet its location of origin made perfect sense.

Seeing Wayne's art in person left me beyond words and made me wonder why some art is hanging in the big, prestigious museums while stuff like his was not. Upon approaching these highly detailed pointillist masterpieces, it felt as if I had entered a sacred or holy space - an altar of sorts, presenting some cryptic knowledge, or a message from the future sent to be deciphered in the present. Actively exhibiting his work since 1972, you can see how it has evolved, and even though Wayne has had formal training, his work is every bit as visionary as anything out there. There was a time in ancient history where the artist was regarded in high esteem, holding the position of the knowing sage providing wisdom and insight to those who were in need of it. Wayne Paige's work does just that, acting as a mirror image reflecting the world we humans inhabit, which you can read more about at his website

Despite the intense beauty of Wayne's art, in person he was as friendly as could be, discussing some of his inspiration and concepts, as well as giving some insight to into his process to visitors at his studio. Wayne was also kind enough to let me take some photos of his work and his studio.  I always find it extremely interesting to see where artists work, as well as witness some of the initial process and preliminary ideas, and it's always fascinating to see such a wide variety of spaces where the magic takes place.

One day I will own a Wayne Paige oil painting, if not settle for one of his micron-pen drawings, which are just as incredible. Until then, I had to settle for some post card images he was giving away from some of his most recent exhibits, including one from late 2012 in NYC, which you can get a glimpse of in the video below. It's interesting to note that, according to Wayne, his show took place during the onslaught of hurricane Sandy. He told me how lucky he was to have his exhibit taking place on the ninth floor of the building where his art was being shown, as those artists whose work was closer to ground level weren't so fortunate.