Clay Wagstaff: Mormon Artist

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Clay Wagstaff Mormon Artist

Clay Fred Wagstaff is a landscape painter, primarily known as a semi-abstractionist.

Wagstaff was born in 1964, in Kanab, Utah. He earned a BFA from Brigham Young University in 1987 and an MFA from California State University in Long Beach in 1990. His BYU professors Wulf Barsch, Hagen Haltern, and Bruce Smith influenced him toward a spiritualist vision in his art.

Reviewer Elaine Sexton said of his work, “There’s something soothing in Wagstaff’s straightforward, undramatic settings, a sense that the world, as this artist depicts it, is quiet, calm and manageable—an effect that is heightened when we step away from the paintings. At a remove, the vultures are just birds, and you don’t notice the grids keeping chaos at bay. Like a stoic cousin to the Hudson River School painters, Wagstaff, with his ideas of order, draws something spiritual out of the hush he creates in his unpeopled, unsentimental landscapes.”[1]

His paintings Landscape No. 21 (1991) and Late October Evening (1999) each won a merit award the Springville Museum of Art spring salon. Landscape No. 125 (1990) is featured in the Springville Museum of Art permanent collection. Wagstaff’s work has been shown at museums and galleries in California, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. His work is part of permanent collections at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Time Warner, Delta and Continental Airlines, Fidelity Investments, Wellington Management, Deloitte and Touche, and the US Department of State. His paintings have been reviewed in Art in America.

He says of his work:

In my paintings I attempt to balance all elements into a harmonious whole by employing Greek orthogons (The mathematical formulas developed by the Greeks for use in building, sculpture, paintings, etc. were found to elicit strong emotional response). I also use "Dynamic Symmetry", a method developed by Jay Hambridge in the 1920’s, in planning my paintings. Both the Greeks and Jay Hambridge depend heavily on the idea that cosmos (strict order) and chaos (complete disorder) ought to blend together into "wholeness".
Another influence in my work is the theme of "homecoming" addressed in great epic literature such as The Odyssey and Pilgrim’s Progress. This is a home of the spirit and the heart, as well as a familiar physical place. I make use of various pictorial elements such as rivers, constellations, paths and fields, intending to suggest the idea of a remembered "home" or, the act of "journeying towards home".[2]

Wagstaff is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. He and his wife, artist Rebecca Wetzel Wagstaff, and daughters live in Tropic, Utah.

Clay Wagstaff Mormon Artist
Day Break Number 9 Courtesy Clay Wagstaff