We had the good fortune of connecting with W. Max Thomason and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi W. Max, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The impetus for returning to art full time as a career was a conversation with my parents. We were on a family vacation in Phoenix, at dinner one night, and they told me they thought it was time for me to return to creating art full time. So, in 2011 I sold my half of a company I owned with my little brother to him, rented a studio above an antique store on the northeast corner of Santa Fe Dr & 8th Ave and went back to painting full time.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a contemporary painter and my work encompasses Realism & Abstraction. My works frequently depict figures in various states of focus. Most recently, I’ve has begun to employ urban settings in a realist approach. My early influences as a painter can be attributed to the work of the Fauvists & American Realists of the 60’s & 70’s. I studied studio art from 1990-97 at Metropolitan State University/University of Colorado at Denver under the guidance of the likes of Amy Métier & Robert Mangold. My work has been exhibited nationally & internationally in galleries & museums & has been selected for album covers for Carolyn’s Mother & Mike River. I am also the curator & owner of Bitfactory Gallery & Studios. Getting to this point in my career was not easy. It has simply been a matter of perseverance and continually experimenting, studying, and learning from each series of paintings I create. At first it was a matter of entering as many call for entries exhibits I could afford. Then I started working on group exhibitions and then solo exhibitions. Opening Bitfactory Gallery helped as well. I could at least guarantee myself one solo exhibition in Denver every year. At the same time I didn’t want to be the artist/gallerist who only exhibits their work or somehow always includes their work in every exhibition. I wanted the gallery to work with primarily emerging and up and coming artists to make it a easier for artists to get exhibitions in front of the public. I also try to work with on established or major artist a year at Bitfactory. In regards to my own work, I’m rather proud to have exhibited in Europe. I’m also proud that I’m in private collections from coast to coast in the US. I have learned my paintings can cause people to have a very emotional, personal response. I’ve had viewers break down in tears while viewing my paintings. It was wrenching and validating at the same time. It was beautiful to see a person somehow tie their own life experience into an image I created and to know it could move them so much.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, this one is difficult. Before COVID, and before it closed, we would have hung out at Gary Lee’s Pub & Grub a lot. Gary’s is long gone now. We’d definitely hit up MCA, DAM, Clyfford Still, Kirkland, Art District on Santa Fe, and of course my gallery Bitfactory which is in the Art District on Santa Fe. There’d be lots of bar hoping and live venues as well. Long discussions on music and art. We always seem to discuss things like best band of all time. Most recognizable guitar riff of all time. Biggest influences musically, artistically, etc.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents, family, and friends. Without their love and support, in the first few years, I would have ended up in a very bad place financially, and returning to some corporate job.
Yelp: Bitfactory Gallery
Other: Ello: @wmaxthomason @bitfactorygallery DayFlash: @bitfactorygallery FB: @bitfactorygallery IG: @bitfactorygallery TW: @bitfactoryg Website; bitfactory.net
Black and white photo was taken by Jeff Strahl