NEW/NOW: Paul Baylock
May 17, 2018–October 21, 2018
William L. and Bette Batchelor Gallery
During the early part of the 20th century, New Britain was known as the “Hardware City” and the “Hardware Capital of the World.” Major manufacturers, such as Stanley Tool, Fafnir, Emhart, and Landers, Frary & Clark were headquartered here, producing tools that were sold worldwide. These manufacturers contributed to a flourishing economy, drawing tens of thousands of workers to New Britain every day. While many of these factories have since closed, the city retains great pride in its rich industrial legacy.
This legacy is perhaps nowhere better expressed and celebrated than in the vibrant paintings and sculptures of artist Paul Baylock, a New Britain native. Throughout his career, Baylock has drawn his imagery from vintage publications and Popular Mechanics magazines from the period in which he grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s, as well as from New Britain iconography, factory architecture, and locally produced hardware that capture the spirit of the city. By sanding and abrading the surfaces of his brightly hued acrylic and vinyl paintings, Baylock attributes an aura of age to his compositions, evoking faded signs or advertisements from an earlier era, collaged together. These layered compositions suggest the changing topography of the city, the passing of time, and the accumulation of memory, and are especially relevant now, given the ongoing demolition of historic factory buildings in New Britain. The artist’s NEW/NOW exhibition will feature a selection of paintings from 2009 to today, including his celebrated “Hardware City” series. The presentation will also include site-specific sculptural installations comprising of the original windows from the Landers, Frary & Clark factory that he acquired while renting a studio there.
An avid supporter of the arts, Baylock has been involved with the New Britain Art League for over a decade, and the League’s President since 2008. Baylock taught art in New Britain public schools at the middle and high school level for 38 years, until retiring in 2012. The artist’s interest in urban history is shared by many residents of our city and state. In conjunction with Baylock’s exhibition, the NBMAA will organize a number of programs that celebrate our legacy as the “Hardware City,” and that will explore the shifting landscape of New Britain and cities across the country.