Paul Baylock grew up in New Britain and walked past the factories daily.
“They were like cathedrals,” he said. “Workers would coat the windows with material that was reflective so the heat wouldn’t come in or to reduce the light. You could see the color blue or red come out. It had the quality of stained glass.”
Years later, when he had an art studio in the old Landers, Frary & Clark building, he took some discarded window frames when the building was being renovated. He didn’t know what to do with them yet.
Four of the windows, enhanced with clear plastic saw-cut images evoking New Britain’s industrial past, are the centerpiece of an exhibit at New Britain Museum of American Art.
In “Relics of Industry,” Baylock merges the city’s history and his own history into mixed-media visions of windows, hardware, city slogans and his father’s face, abstracted and formed into grids that themselves resemble windows.
Baylock, 65, a retired art teacher in New Britain schools, worked in a factory himself, briefly.
“It was Peter Paul Electronics. It was scary. There was this machine that trimmed down electric coils. You had to know the thing might come down on your hands,” he said.
Years later, he severed a finger and thought about the factory.
“People using their hands in machines, the same thing would be happening,” he said. “I thought it was a good symbol for the loss of life and limb while making products.” He incorporates imagery of a hand with a severed finger into his pieces.
One visual element – a Mexican street vendor – is about New Britain, too.
“Back in 1993 I took six students down for a cultural exchange to Puebla, Mexico, sponsored by Stanley Works,” he said. “We went to this little town. She was selling her wares. … It ties Mexico and Stanley Works with New Britain.”
NEW/NOW PAUL BAYLOCK: RELICS OF INDUSTRY is at New Britain Museum of American Art, 56 Lexington St., until Oct. 21. nbmaa.org.
On Other Walls
“Rachel Lussier: The Hardware Series,” a series of artworks based on hardware, is at New Britain Industrial Museum, 59 West Main St., until July 16. nbindustrial.org.
New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Ave., will present work by New Haven native Lt. Gilbert Jerome, who served in World War I and created sketches and watercolors inspired by his love of military aviation. The show will open June 14 with a reception starting at 5 p.m. newhavenmuseum.org.
“Noh Theatre in the Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869–1927)” is at Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams St. in New London, from June 16 to Oct. 14. lymanallyn.org.