Clayton Fine Art Gallery Kicks off the Holidays with ‘The Visual Storytelling of Cat Works’ Exhibition

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

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.

Keep Calm and Carry On Cat Works Courtesy of the Artist

Keep Calm and Carry On
Cat Works
Courtesy of the artist

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.

 Cat Works Courtesy of the Artist

Cat Works
Courtesy of the artist

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 (top), “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 fight against science in the “Einstein vs. Jesus: The Right to Free Thought” trial at which “Tea and Milk Party attitudes and beliefs are prevalent.”

Fractal Expressionis Cat Works Courtesy of the Artist

Fractal Expressionis
Cat Works
Courtesy of the artist

Thompson said the idea for the Cat Works series resulted from the boredom he experienced after retiring as a film animation designer six years ago.

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.

To Serve Dog Cat Works Courtesy of the Artist

To Serve Dog
Cat Works
Courtesy of the artist

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