Attapulgus artists finds popularity in Japan

Published 9:46 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

He grew up in South Boston, where he met his wife of over 50 years. He served in two wars, which led to visits to almost 40 countries. He retired about 30 years ago.

Since then, John Bayides, who now lives in Attapulgus, has done a lot of painting.

About five or six years ago, Bayides started a series of paintings featuring musicians: a man with a banjo, one with a violin and even one with a man playing a jug. A peculiar series of events led to a Japanese art seller buying five of the musician paintings.

“He’s selling them in Yokohama and in Tokyo, so I think I’m more famous there than I am here. I thought it was neat that someone from a little town like this is selling something in Japan,” Bayides said.

The salesman made smaller reproductions of the paintings and labels each one as a “limited edition,” which feature the name of the painting and Bayides’ name in both English and Japanese.

“I got to try to memorize that, so I can go somewhere and buy something and give them a check and write my name down at the bottom,” Bayides said with a laugh. “They’d say, ‘That guy must be crazy.’”

Bayides said that he has several of his paintings in Artsy on the Square.

“I could probably make a living selling them in a big city, but I’m not in it for the money. I do it for pleasure,” Bayides said.

He describes his style as “pretty crazy” and uses lots of color on every piece. The small studio behind his house has stacks of hundreds of paintings of lighthouses, boats, various still lives and everything in between.

“I do a lot of crazy lighthouses,” Bayides said. “I have my tapes and records playing when I paint. I always have the music playing,” Bayides said. “It’s inspiring.”

Bayides said that he reads frequently to keep his mind sharp and for inspiration for new paintings. He finds one subject matter and will paint dozens of variations of that same subject with different color schemes or paint techniques. His current fixation is hay bales.