It is my pleasure to introduce the exhibition Wayne Claypatch, Out of the Frying Pan by Wayne Claypatch at the Olean Public Library and corresponding publication. Learning about Wayne's work was one of the pleasures of jurying the Southern Tier Biennial with John Massier, Visual Arts Curator at Hallwalls in Buffalo. John and I have somewhat different tastes but I think it is safe to say we are both attracted to idiosyncratic and surprising artworks. We were immediately drawn to Claypatch's entries, especially Winter Wonderland. Overall we were impressed by all of the works entered in the exhibition, and struggled with the final decisions. We felt that Claypatch's works showed a diversity of imagery and subject matter, executed with remarkable and consistent skill. After rounds of discussion we returned several times to Wayne's striking and strange paintings, leading us to select him for this larger exhibition and catalog.
The scenes he chooses to paint, the situations he freezes in time reveal a little bit about his odd vision of the world, yet somehow all seems so resolved. Wayne's work unites a nimble and playful imagination with a careful and attentive hand. The possibility for tension or even collapse as these modes of thinking and creating show themselves, is an interesting aspect of many artist's work. For Wayne I think this is especially so, and the struggle is just below the surface. How Did We End up here, Wherever here is, manifests both a giddy pairing of characters and the tight, painstaking attention given to Popeye's keen eye and protruding chin. The artist holds it together and the result is just right. I find it hard to now envision The Sailor Man with any other partner in crime.
Terry McDonald has written that Wayne Claypatch's work is "FUN" and "(his) outright skills are incomparable". To this I have to add WEIRD. Claypatch's paintings are SO weird and wonderful and well-painted, all in balance. After the skill and the chuckles, beyond the pure visual pleasure and the quirkiness, the stories and thinking behind these works keep me coming back for more. That slightly crazed look on the girl's face in Winter Wonderland. Is that kid going to give away or smoke those Chesterfields? What does Wayne Claypatch know about reindeer that we don't? With a grin on my face I can't get enough of these strange trippy tableaus. I hope you enjoy delving into Wayne's worlds as much as I did.
Executive Director / Curator
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
From the 2015 Southern Tier Biennial exhibition:
Winter Wonderland, or A Chesterfield Christmas.
Oil on canvas
48" X 32"
Also from the 2015 Southern Tier Biennial:
How Did We End Up Here, Wherever here is
Oil on canvas
45" X 32"