The St. Pete Arts Alliance is proud to present surrealist artist, Steven Kenny as the speaker in our next Third Thursday Morning Art Leadership Forum on October 17.
Starting as a commercial graphic illustrator and creating a successful 35+ year painting career, Kenny will discuss his lessons learned in marketing and self-promotion that led the U.S. Mint to ask him to submit designs that could be used on U.S. coins.
Kenny will cover topics such as maintaining customer relationships, negotiating, maintaining quality, handling social media, seeking out opportunities, building bridges and not burning them, taking risks, being patient, not taking anything personally and more.
Kenny will present in an informal TED Talk-style with plenty of time for Q&A from artists, nonprofits and creative audience members.
While visiting his upstairs studio in St Pete, interviewer Soleil Simone mused “if walls could talk,” they would speak volumes about the surreal yet photorealistic quality of Kenny’s paintings, whose objects of interest seem almost “pinch-able”, “touch-able”, “stroke-able,” as in the downy feathers of a flamingo, or the bare torso of a naked body reaching for a branch.
The soft lighting and warm ambiance in Kenny’s paintings reveal humans surrounded by beautiful landscapes and creature companions, with an almost Biblical reference. The classical echoes in the form of the subjects combine with the dreamlike elements of surrealist style.
The key behind all of Kenny’s paintings is a metaphorical question, asking the viewer to decipher the hidden meaning behind the composition, something the artist is trying to convey without words.
“Kenny’s portraiture and figure paintings form a vibrant commentary on the nature of balance, sexuality and that fickle concept: transcendence.”
$10 per session. Free for St. Pete Arts Alliance Arts Business Partner Members.
email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the member code
8-8:30 am – coffee and networking
8:30-9:30 am – program
Class size is limited to 24 participants. Early registration is recommended. Sessions are held at The Greenhouse, 440 2nd Ave North in downtown St. Pete. Street metered is parking available.
Visit gh.stpetegreenhouse.org or call the Greenhouse at 727-893-7146 to register.
Interview with Steven Kenny
by Soleil Simone
Naturally Inspired. Those two words, the title of Steven Kenny’s autographed catalogue of limited monograph paintings, aptly describe his 35-year painting career, which began as a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 1984.
A native New Yorker from Peekskill, Kenny knew in high school that art would be both his passion and his profession. His early mentors were from the school of Surrealism, such as Salvador Dali. His personal emphasis centered around the inextricable link between humans, nature and the universal spirit binding them together. According to Kenny, the universe is in a state of constant flux, and species in nature experience that change in different ways yet are somehow linked together.
Kenny’s painting career took a while to take off. The arts market after he graduated was more interested in graphic illustrators than classical surrealistic painters. So Kenny began working in NYC for major companies like Sony and AT&T. It wasn’t until 15 years later that he decided to return to his first love of brush and paint and moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It was here that his personal style flourished, blending classical with surrealistic genres in oil and establishing a devoted clientele in galleries around the Washington DC area.
Many years later found him on a return visit to his hometown in New York, thanks to an invitation to his high school art teacher’s retirement party. On a whim, he decided to look up his high school sweetheart. . . “She was the love of my life.” Not only did he find her, he pursued her until they were married one year later and remain married “happily ever after” to this day.
In 2012, the couple relocated to St Petersburg. “I didn’t know a soul, but I’d heard good things about the upcoming arts community here, so I thought I’d give it a try.”
His first showing was at the ARTicles Gallery near downtown St Pete. After seven years, he’s a well-known, respected and sought-after artist with a select and devoted following for whom he makes customized paintings, according to the clients’ preferences.
I was curious about his source of inspiration: “Oh, that’s so hard to say. It could be so many things, or one thing. A photo in a magazine, something I saw on the street – it all stays in my subconscious until one day, when I sit at the canvas, it all comes back, and then. . . ”