That Single-Minded Focus: The Photography of Jay Wilkinson
Some artists are obsessed with mastering their respective fields.
In the music world, Leonard Bernstein, Stevie Wonder, and Prince come to mind. The ability to pick up any instrument and play or compose in any style is fleetingly rare. Local painter Jay Wilkinson has that single-minded focus, and now he’s using it to explore photography.
This Fall Gallery Night, as part of the upcoming photography show This is America (presented by Art Tooth, Tanglewood Moms, and Regan Hall Art), Wilkinson will show works in a medium he’s not widely known for — photography. His relationship with film as a muse for his paintings is no secret — his recent Fort Works Art show was based on old family photos — but his experience with photography is not extensive. Wilkinson says his creative output begins and ends with painting.
“That’s the piano for me,” he remarked, referring to the central instrument employed by many famous composers.
But he was hesitant to define himself as just a painter. It’s easy to see why. With the many large-scale sculptures he’s produced with the help of local carpenter/artist Brandon Pederson, he’s impressed the community with his approach to gigantic projects. Much like his love for sculpture, which grew out of his painting, his newfound photography obsession came from photos he would take that would later serve as a guide for his paintings.
“I wanted to be more honest about the world around me,” Wilkinson said. Photography, he added, helps him do that.
He began simply with disposable cameras but has moved up to an “advanced” point-and-shoot, he says. Wilkinson credits local “King of Street Photography” Donnie Williams and a group of friends that regularly shoots together, including local photogs Rambo Elliot and Chip Thompkins, for pushing him to do more with the medium. This has led to a new Instagram project, @MLKYWLKY, where Wilkinson documents his “silly moments.” He’ll show a few of those “moments” alongside his friends Thompkins, Julio Cedillo, and others during during Fall Gallery Night, September 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. at WestBend.
This article is part of a monthly series of artist profiles made possible through a partnership between Tanglewood Moms and the artist-led nonprofit, Art Tooth.