Born in Washington, DC, in 1945 and raised in Baltimore, John Thomas Wells IVs education was a composite of tutored, personal experimentation and selected university courses. His grandmother, Adelaide Reardon Wells, was a painter. Her home in Bethesda Maryland was a sanctuary for young Thomas, where he perused her books on drawing and absorbed a sacred respect for creativity.

 

During a two-year residence in Japan in the mid-60s, he studied traditional Japanese brush painting, sumi-e, and oriental calligraphy. There, he was exposed to Zen Buddhism and then later to its Western counterpart, Scientology, when he returned to the States. The later influence heightened his focus and output and expanded his zones of interest.

 

The discipline of the oriental brush ushered in his prolific watercolor period. As a young artist he sold his work on the streets of New York City, including the unsanctioned artists' bazaar by the fountains in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and later through Benwai Gallery in Provincetown, Cape Cod, in the 1970s. 

In the early 1980s, Wells apprenticed with  Benoit Gilsoul, a Belgium artist, who was then executing large public commissions in sandblasted glass from his studio in lower Manhattan. Later Wells opened his own glass studio and went on to execute highly complex glass mural commissions in public and private venues in Manhattan, Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland.

From 1993 to 2003, the artist’s studio was situated at the Artists Housing Cooperative in East Baltimore. During that period, his intrinsic collecting of and fascination with artifacts evolved into a long period of assemblage. The artist says, “This work is an exploration into, and celebration of infinity." The process begins with "harvesting objects which are imbued with subtle qualities and allowing them to interact with other finds."

His prolific output in this medium was presented in 12 exhibitions over a four-year period in the Mid-Atlantic region. Most notable were his two solo shows:  "Primitive Post-Modern Artifacts” in April 2000 and "Powerless Weapons, Useless Tools" in 2002. As a member of the Maryland State Art Council Registry, he was selected into the 17th Annual Critic's Residency Program in 2003.  In 2004, he was juried into the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Later he kept studio at the Jackson Art Center in Georgetown, Washington DC. Currently these works are presented through Newman Gallery in Washington DC and MIKO ART  in La Pas, Bolivia.

Photography for Wells began at the age of 8 with a Kodak box camera. This childhood fascination

stepped up as he photographically explored the culture of Japan as a serviceman in the 1960s. Later his traditional use of the medium was interrupted after seeing the darkroom compositions by Jerry Uelsmann in Aperture Magazine. Then working as a darkroom technician in a portrait studio, he spent a week in the darkroom laboring over a composition made from 2 negatives. But he says, “The result was a piece of art.” In 2010 a friend gave him a digital camera for Christmas. The camera’s panoramic feature, which stitched together three consecutive shots into a single composition, became a channel of avid exploration.  A new visual language evolved which the artist calls "Photo-Haiku”.  This pursuit became another avenue into the realm of infinity, paralleling this pursuit  through assemblages.