Kevin Paulsen’s Vernacular Paintings

Kingston, New York’s fine art citizen Kevin Paulsen shares his time between civic dedication and fine art exercise. Recently, Kevin received an intimate crowd of art patrons and friends at the famed Bergdorf Goodman in New York for his recent exhibition, “American Vernacular Painting.”

Kevin’s work adorned the prestigious 5th Avenue windows, as well as the 7th Floor Skylight Room complimented by a team of Bergdorf Goodman associates who provided meet and greet white glove service to all visiting guests Wednesday, May 11.

The American Vernacular continues as Kevin Paulsen’s vision evolves with new energy and a renewed sense of purpose. Luckily, I caught up with Kevin to celebrate his opening and continue the interview shared with you last week. (Guardian of the Eclipse featured above 6' x 7').

mM : what was it like to juxtapose the lyrical serenity of your work against the hustle and bustle of new york city in the windows at Bergdorf Goodman?

KP : I think it was a perfect fit, and I think the word you choose to ask the question — "juxtapose" — is perfect. You've got the steel and the concrete, the giant buildings, the people walking by, and then you have on the inside, these more-or-less calming sort of pastoral, historically connected images that I paint.

Also, the difference between the sidewalk and the windows in terms of color and the lighting, and I think the glass panels themselves kind of act as a buffer into another world. You're outside in this loud, siren-filled air, and you're looking through the glass into this calm, separate studio setting.

mM : did you collaborate with a stylist on the final window display? I loved the scale of some of the items in the window, it really pulled the surrealistic quality of your work to the forefront....

KP : David Hoey, the director of windows for BG, had called me, and at one point actually asked me if I could cut a part of my studio floor out and bring it to the city. And, I told him no, I wouldn't do that. But, basically he wanted to recreate the feel of my studio in Uptown Kingston where I live and work, and in that way we collaborated. He asked me some questions - how did I work - was I clean, tidy, sloppy? And I'm pretty sloppy. My studio is filled with decaying plaster walls, big tall ceilings, it's very old, wooden floor covered in paint, and he tried to recreate that by laying canvases and placing easels and other studio materials around. So, we didn't really collaborate except in conversation, and I left it to David. I mean, that's his genius — window decoration.

As far as the surrealistic quality of the work, the only part that seemed surreal to me was that you had those headless mannequins walking around inside that sort of studio. Because, other than the work itself, which has a surrealistic bend, the environment, which was to depict a working studio, was pretty … tame. I think the most surrealist aspect was that juxtaposition we were just speaking about, of calm isolation of the artist's studio and then the outdoor noise and hubub of the city. (The Waiting, pictured above).

mM : The body of work seemed to have a cohesive rhythm, one painting leading you to the next, and take the viewer on a trip through your inspired vision : did you have a storyline or do you work free from any finalized objective?

KP : Well, I think if there's a cohesive rhythm to the work, one painting leading to another as you say, it comes mainly from my habit of working on three or four in a series, one from the other. And because I rely so much on history and the narrative, there's no other way for them to read in a way. Even though you might have two relatively disparate paintings in terms of their palette or the number of figures or the spaciousness or compactness of the landscape, they might seem related, probably because (1) they're in my hand and (2) because I try to work in that timeless sort of formula. There was no direct storyline, but, as I said in the first interview, when I work the story sort of reveals itself in the process. And then that story might carry over from painting to painting for three or four pieces until something else takes over. And the only final objective I have is that the painting is beautiful and that the outcome is clear. And when that happens, I don't know—it just happens.

Rockin’ Kevin, keep up the great works and super kind thanks for sharing your vision. Kevin Paulsen’s work is now on display, street level, at Bergdorf Goodman and up on the 7th Floor until May 31, 2011. If you are out and about in NY check out the show! Coming to Comic-Con in July, check out Kevin Paulsen’s work in “Lucid Dreams” July 8 through August 9, 2011. And proudly, Kevin Paulsen and I will be collaborating on a new fine art book featuring a select collection of his works. Look out for the book in 2012, as Kevin will be featuring a medley of new and past works. (2011 Interview No. 1) + (Bergdorf Goodman Blog Review) + (Bart Boehlert’s Beautiful Things Blog)


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