Bruce Thayer, this week’s Summer of Art artist, has been heavily into art for as long as he can remember. As a child growing up in Lansing, Thayer spent countless hours drawing and doodling with his grandmother.
“I started art as a kid,” Thayer said. “My grandma was an elementary education teacher.”
Thayer, 64, drew pictures with her until her death in 1978.
“I first had an interest in art on her farm,” Thayer said. “When we spent time together, we would draw her farm animals.”
Thayer’s passion for art all started with nature and the outdoors, but later he turned his focus to the world around him, including history.
“I got a fascination with things going on in the world and with culture as a whole,” Thayer said.
While attending Central Michigan University in the early ‘70s, Thayer started doing abstract expressionism, which was popular in the art world at the time.
“In ’73, I started adding content back into my work,” Thayer said. “I went to California for a little bit, did some shows and later moved to Chicago.”
Thayer earned a master’s degree in painting from the Art Institute of Chicago. Over the years, pop culture and humor have worked their way into Thayer’s art.
“I want viewers to know that my work is comical, to look at it through humorous eyes,” he said.
Thayer works primarily in mixed media visual art, including elements of watercolor painting, printmaking and paper pieces. He strives to capture audiences with striking images while keeping the work playful and entertaining. But it hasn’t always been easy.
“I’ve had a lot of galleries close,” Thayer said. “Many, in fact.”
But that hasn’t stopped Thayer’s determination and drive. He’s shown work around the world, and many of his pieces are currently displayed at museums and galleries around the world. For years, he worked day jobs to support his art, but now he is able to focus on art full time.
“I’m a retired GM test driver,” Thayer said. “I did it for 25 years, and before that I worked as a substitute teacher.”
Thayer has another hobby on the side, also inspired by his grandmother.
“Basically all I do is art and gardening on my three acres,” he said.
Over the years, Thayer has taught workshops at colleges and schools, hoping to pass on his love for art. But love of art, he cautions, doesn’t pay the bills.
“My biggest piece of advice for others pursuing art is to find a day job,” he said with a laugh. “Make sure you’re also pursuing something else.”