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W.G. Patrick’s sweeping work, the 125-square-foot “Thoughts Create Form (A Team of 12 Capitalists/Creators in front of Mt. Shasta, USA) 2007-2009,” is infused with color, but to fully appreciate it, you might want to bring along some gray matter. 

Of course, “Objects are Events: Anatomy of a Painting by W.G. Patrick,” now on exhibit through July 25 at the Saginaw Art Museum, helps you along. Corridors lined with the preliminary work, from the so-called napkin sketches to a Tinker Toy-style meeting of concepts to figure studies, walk visitors through the process before taking them to the 74-by-240-inch oil on polypropylene felt painting.

Still, at the end, the Saginaw artist is quick to ask, “What do you see? What’s your first impression?”

It’s that sort of work.

“I’m a spiritual painter, interested in all religions and no religions,” he said, looking at what he calls his “service work.”

Beginning with the golden ratio — 1-1.61803 — that defines everything in nature, he brings form to the chaotic, something the mind will identify even as conscious thought focuses on the more evident concepts.

Patrick plays with the mystical side of mathematical formula, tapping into what he calls the potential energy blinks that go in and out of existence. A soaring structure captures the triangular form of strings, gravitational pull and cosmological constant.

“It is the universe’s wishing well,” he said, “where thoughts create form.”

He began with a rugby team …..came up with the 12 apostles of the mighty dollar, poised for action. Capitalist J.P. Morgan leads the pack, which includes Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, P.T. Barnum and a pair of Bill Gates, among others, poised in tai chi position, grasping energy in hand while keeping grounded with the other.

“Sweeping across Patrick’s living art is the carotid shape, theoretically extending beyond the canvas’ borders and infusing the work with a mixture of science and emotion. And he offers still another perspective through top and straight-forward views.

But there’s an element as well of double-integration, a concept best described by the ability to remove letters from a word and still leave it readable. Patrick does the same in his work, playing on what the eye sees and the mind senses.

And landscapes, splitting and growing like cells, the Western world on the left and the Eastern to the right, touch on the world’s fractals.

“How do towns develop? What is the personality of our towns?” he said. “The Asian side is based on a circle while the west is very linear.

“I originally was going to title this ‘Dichotomy’ but it’s not really a dichotomy at all. There are many more than two elements involved, and they’re not really opposed to each other.”

Then again, he said, the living element comes in what the viewer brings to the experience, something that makes his work forever changing.

A board member alerted Deputy Director Ryan Kaltenbach to Patrick’s work, “and I saw the picture upfront,” he said. “But what was really intriguing was the pieces that showed the work that went into creating it.

“I didn’t know how it would go into an exhibit — the sketches and studies were just spread out, not even framed — but as we worked with it, it developed into something great.

“It will give people an interesting perspective into the creation of art.”