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Paul Baylock

Paul Baylock

baylock

President of the New Britain Art League, New Britain, Conn.

New Britain, Conn.

BFA, 1975

In 2008, Paul Baylock ’75 began to work on a series of paintings and sculptures that celebrated the industrial history of New Britain, Conn., once known as the “Hardware City.” In May 2018, it debuted at the New Britain Museum of American Art as a part of the NEW/NOW program, which features recent work by contemporary, living artists.

Abstract and pop art fascinated Baylock during his years as a student at the Hartford Art School. After he visited a Jasper Johns retrospective in New York with his classmates, he was compelled to explore lettering and non-figurative imagery in his own paintings and assemblages.

 

“New Britain was once the hardware city of the world, so in the work you see products that were made there - saw blades, stovetop burner coils, meat grinders - and you see images of my father, who spent time working in factories and tinkering,” Baylock says.

Baylock crafted multimedia pieces for the NEW/NOW exhibition using vinyl, layered plywood, typographic stencils, and flat color for contrast. These two-dimensional works coordinate with free-standing assemblages built from window panes he sourced from the old factory where he maintains a studio.

Prior to his Hardware City work, his studio practice gleaned inspiration from his career as an art educator in New Britain public schools. Trying new things, as he taught his students to do, and connecting with other artists led to his role as the president of the Art League of New Britain. He has now held the position for five years.

Leagues provide artists a sense of connectivity. The Art League of New Britain, in particular, is one of the larger ones in Connecticut; it holds numerous shows throughout the year. Baylock recommends seeking out these communities and entering exhibits as much as possible both during and after art school. He also has some advice for students struggling to define their artistic style:

“Don’t get discouraged,” he says. “When I was first exhibiting for a show, I would completely change my work style for each gallery. That’s the worst mistake. Art is throwing things out, covering things over, constantly editing and refining. Don’t be afraid of starting over to get to the essence of the piece.”