aBOUT THE ARTIST
Jay Thompson is the creator, curator and keeper of a large collection of curios that he collectively calls CAT WORKS.
He works like a painter, but instead of using a brush and oils he invents situations of altered realities with digital processors. By using original and re-purposed vintage photography, along with heavily painted and designed elements, which he layers and meticulously stitches together. Blending the above with his unique sense of humor and you achieve his main goal...a strong visual experience.
This experience as artwork, is non-pretentious and approachable...they warm your heart. However, this does not mean that these compelling creations are simple....they are not. SOME storytelling contained within is multi-layered and complex, MANY reveal deeper meanings with further viewing. ALL are easy to live with even as they invite study and comment.
Cat Works represents Jay Thompson’s attitudes, his beliefs and is mixed generously with his point-of-view. Are these the surreal snapshots of the imagination? Or...are they something more? The hy-bred creatures shown here are completely self-aware. The offer no apology for their existence.
In fact, their existence is unique. Their society, their moral code, their very history ALL mirror the viewer. BUT there is a predatory under-current that permeates the collection. Fang and claw...just out of sight, reminds us of our base nature and our more primitive urges. Then again these may just be, the surreal snapshots of the imagination.
This is DIGITAL ART at a very creative level. Processing and composition programs are Jay Thompson’s main tools. Highest quality archival papers and inks are used to produce strict limited editions that are personally signed and numbered.
Jay Thompson is a 70 year old curmudgeon who lives in Kirkwood, Missouri as well as part-time in Deerfield, IL. His lifetime companion and wife Victoria has mostly managed to tolerate him.
His one daughter Aimee, and two grandchildren Jessica, and Adam nicely fill out the family.
Jay has been a digital artist from the time of the first Macintosch in 1985. He specializes in unique digital compositions with strong visual storytelling, and, more recently, highly original paintings. He has always shared his life with cats, but currently only one...the Balinese beauty, Lucy Lu. In addition to other duties he is the current curator of the "Cat Works" collection.
Review of Cat Works from the September 10th (2009) issue of the Riverfront Times
Nearer my cat to thee
Blinkered by the prospect of plenitudinous beer and positively excellent festival cuisine - macaroni and cheese should be offed at more outdoor events - I have often been guilty of ignoring the primary reason for the existence of Schlafly's Art Outside, specifically, the art. More than 50 local artists set up tents on the commodious parking lot of the Schlafly Bottlewroks (7260 Southwest Ave, Maplewood 314-241-2337 or swww.shclafly.com) and hawk creative wares ranging from jewelry to fine art prints, and yet I somehow overlook the possibility of browsing in favor of standing in the line for another beer. But this year, I vow to find booth No. 42, that of Jay Thompson digital artist, to see the mystery and miracle of Cat Works. Thompson avers that he is not the creator of this collection of 200 hand-colored photographs and daguerreotypes, but rather the curator; the entire body of work was discovered by his grandfather in 1909, and Thompson the younger merely displays them to a curious public. These images portray the finely attired Victorian forms of young ladies and gentlemen of good standing: each of these bodies bears the majestic head of a house cat. Kitschy? No. In these beautifully composed images are juxtaposed the serenity of the gentle class and the strident intrusion of the Industrial Age. The nameless artist also captures the society of narcissism that pervades that earlier ear and. sadly, also pervades this current time. Cat Works is high art - high art at which you can marvel while eating macaroni and cheese. Art Outside is open to the public from 5 to 10 pm. Friday, 10 am to 10 pm Saturday and noon to 4 pm Sunday. Admission is free bring money for cheesed pasta, beer and art.
- Paul Friswold
SOME THOUGHT RAMBLINGS: Cat Works represents my attitudes, my beliefs and is mixed generously with my sense of humor. However, (as I'm sure you noticed) that the actors in my melodramas have the HEADS OF CATS!
Are these the surreal snapshots of the imagination? Or...are they something more? The hy-bred creatures shown here are completely self-aware. The offer no apology for their existence.
In fact, their existence is unique. Their society, their moral code, their very history ALL mirror the viewers'. BUT there is a predatory under-current that permeates the collection. Fang and claw...just out of sight, reminds us of our base nature and our more primitive urges.
Then again these may just be, the surreal snapshots of the imagination.
FINAL THOUGHT: "Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ash."
-Neil Gaiman, A Midsummer Night's Dream
About the collection
This is a mysterious collection of works that has been in hibernation for well over a century. These curios have been collectively titled “CAT WORKS”.
Their origin is not known. This cabinet of curiosities had lain in an abandoned coal cellar, within a forgotten steamer trunk until 1909, when it was discovered by my grandfather. He became the first curator of this bizarre, almost surreal, collection, which includes over 200 hand-colored photographs, daguerreotypes and glass plate negatives as well as notes, letter fragments and other cryptic and arcane communication references.
They defy definition and even, in some cases, description. Certain pieces appear to have futurist elements, while others have obscure historical footnotes. Almost all reflect a stark understanding of place and self awareness.
Inexplicable subject matter abounds. For example: the cult of the machine, the symbolic arrangement of elements, and the society of narcissism. There are also analogies and speculations of philosophical, scientific, naturalist tendencies. Many oddities are unexplained.
The following are selected excerpts – equally mysterious – from my grandfather’s journal:
There exists a shadow reality where rules of biology have drastically diverged. How this has come about is matter of debate; most believe that it was dreamed. In this scenario the ostensibly benevolent yet ruling species is feline. Others exist.
A broadcast mutation gene has mixed a group of organisms and made the species capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring, a MARVEL of biodiversity. Homo-sapiens in their original form have disappeared from this stage, but are NOT forgotten. Indeed, they are admired, copied, even at times worshiped. Flotsam and jetsam of the originators have washed ashore. Various concepts and ideas are held in high esteem.
This reality appears to be stuck in a pocket of time that ripples from the early to mid-twentieth century.
Through family inheritance this collection has come into my hands. After a considerable internal debate I have decided to release a limited selection, while preservation, classification and analysis continue. It is my hope that you will find them as beautiful, curious and mysteriously satisfying as I have.