The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

‘Reverie Collection’ debuts at Oxbow Hotel

Abstract artist Jesse Blake Hay returns to hometown and debuts collection
Photo by Chase Tuong
Jesse Blake Hay with one of his originals—all originals are unnamed.

After leaving in 2009 to travel across the U.S. for 14 years, abstract artist and former musician Jesse Blake Hay has returned to his hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. More recently, Hay debuted his collection of abstract art, “Reverie Collection,” at the Oxbow Hotel on Thursday, Oct. 5.

Hay’s work is abstract, consisting of various mediums — charcoal, pastels, chalk, paint — on primarily canvas. He utilizes a vast array of vivid colors, geometric shapes, and varying textures to capture and project the material of his subconscious into a physical art form, according to his artist statement.

Hay said he began the bulk of his artwork during the COVID-19 pandemic as a meditative mental health aid as he’s not good at communicating his emotions verbally. 

According to Hay, he chooses instead to use his abstract art to express the emotions he doesn’t have words to describe — often beginning his work without any set plan,

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Hay said much of the genuinity of his art stems from his past experiences. Hay spent many years traveling, worked as a musician for over a decade, lived in various locations and was even homeless for a period of time. He said the accumulation of all these experiences brought him to a point in his artistry in which he “didn’t have anything to prove anymore.”

Although Hay said he sees the process of creating his art mainly for himself and his own mental health, he hopes his audience gains some kind of meaning from viewing his art as well.

“My hope is that my works are subjective enough to stir up sensibilities from your own subconscious as well. Ultimately, I want every viewer to find a personal meaning in the menagerie of gouache, charcoal, oil pastel, chalk and acrylic on canvas,” Hay said in his artist statement.

Hay said he wants his art to invoke any general, deep emotion from his viewers even negative feelings such as hate or agitation are welcome. 

He said that even though at the end of his painting process he can often identify his personal meaning behind his painting, he chooses to withhold that information from his audience.

“I don’t generally share that with people because I don’t want to in a sense rob them of their connection to it or what it means to them,” Hay said.

The debut of Hay’s “Reverie Collection” was held in the gallery of the Oxbow Hotel. A large number of Hay’s loved ones attended, and the event was open for free to the public. The people in attendance expressed their love for Hay’s art, his use of color, texture and their general fascination for abstract art.

“I think (abstract art) allows the viewer to be more involved in the work because you can interpret or experience so subjectively. There’s not an object of reality to it, so I think it’s very personal and in that way reaches a broad spectrum of art lovers,” an attendee said.

Tuong can be reached at [email protected].

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