“The Dream Team” at Bay 6, Austin Art Tour Eight
Serendipity played an important role in meeting the artists of Bay 6 Studios. Kevin Kuhn , the primary manager, promoter and also an artist from Bay 6 , contacted me , regarding the upcoming show of Susannah Blanton.(no relation to the museum donors). We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview all the artists residing there: Susannah Blanton, Chris White, Sharon Kyle Kuhn and Kevin. Every one of the artists appreciate being part of this collaborative and have adopted “The Dream Team” as their motto.
Susannah Blanton, originally from Ft. Worth, spent many years in Los Angeles; both parents were in the film industry. Her father also welded iron sculpture, which encouraged Susannah’s interest in exploring different media. The mother wrote for films which gave Susannah the “storytelling” bug. She graduated from TCU where she majored in Film and minored in ceramics. Her goal was to become a special effects artist, hence she moved to L.A. to follow her dream. But life threw her a few wrenches instead. After spending over a decade there, working in multiple film areas, what happened, instead of fulfilling her dream, was that she was hit with multiple tragedies happening around her: her dog died of cancer, multiple friends died within weeks of each other, her brother in law died and more. It was pretty gruesome but inspired her to paint, starting with the “Fresh Hell” series, meaning every time the phone rang, there was a chance that hell was starting all over again. This in turn inspired the “Bitter Pill” series since she was quickly exposed to how pharmaceuticals are overused to help depression, to the point of making women and children feel like they were disappearing, which then further inspired the “How to Disappear Completely” series. One painting in particular shows two boys on their plastic blow up water animals in a classic sunny weather California pool. One is looking back, with a shocked expression, toward their mother who is almost invisible, and the other is resigned. Sharon gets her imagery from nineteen-fifties and sixties magazine Ads she finds on the web. In her latest series the women actually take on the wood grain as they disappear into the painting. Her work mesmerized us , both in her relevant social commentary and in her painting skill and sense of color. She captivates that time period’s plastic and superficial “valley of the dolls”, which is all too relevant even today. E.A.S.T.(East Austin Studio Tour) was good for her and she shared with us that she also earns a living as a home staging artist…yet another way to use her film and storytelling background.
Chris White, from LA , is a painter, and also has been a production supervisor for the film industry for over twenty-five years. She came to Austin to work on Idiocracy, that hilarious Mike Judge film, and discovered six years ago that this town is pretty supportive of artists. Without any formal art school training but with a lifelong love for drawing and working in different materials , she produces exciting, dramatic , almost sculptural works using resins, wax and paint. She has a complex process that produces very polished work. She first covers her panels with texture paint, then attacks the panel with a variety of differently shaped carving toolsl to create an interesting layer of texture. The next phase is to paint and compose the panel then pour a top coat of clear resin and then wax it. Sometimes she buffs it to a high sheen or she may leave it matt.
The East Austin Studio tour and exhibition was good for our gal, she sold 13 paintings. That is very impressive.
Chris expressed how much she is encouraged to paint by being surrounded by other supportive artists. Here at Bay6 the good energy is always at a high level.
She is excited about her up coming show in May at Bay6 Gallery.
Sharon Kyle Kuhn born in Houston and went to NYU to major in Art and Education. She got married and followed Kevin to the Bay Area of California. Being influenced by Jasper Johns, Diego Rivera and Rauschenberg, Sharon started attaching objects to her paintings, but they wouldn’t stay. To solve the problem, she took a course in encaustics, which is beeswax mixed with Demar Resin=a sap from an Asian tree. It has a very long life, all natural and you treat it like paint. Sharon puts paint into the beeswax and pours it over the objects and then torches it. It’s physically exciting and you get immediate gratification. Unbeknownst to me, this art form is one of the oldest! Sharon is so good at this that she now teaches a weekly class. Most encaustic works are flat and pretty and not very challenging, but Sharon’s works are a wonder. You have to look close otherwise you’ll miss the fun in discovering what item she used to create this wonderfully balanced composition. She uses everything she can get her hands on. Film strips, nails, springs, egg cartons. So don’t leave anything behind, because you may find it in one of her paintings. From East, she got a commission to make a large piece for the lobby at Ernst and Young in Dallas, Texas.
Kevin Kuhn is a LA native, although he moved to northern California to live. His path was computer chip design and Kevin has taken the chip design to new heights but, you need a magnifying glass to see this microscopic art. Yes, he creates innovative design on the design if you know what I mean. If you go to www.siliconzoo.com you’ll see such work like no other specs. Kevin and Sharon needed a studio when they moved to Austin, especially Sharon. They found Bay 6 which has three studios, one gallery and a funky outdoor indoor porch where Kevin likes to work. Now Kevin has a second job: he manages the gallery, hangs the shows and manages their website and newsletter while having the best time of his life. It’s a real Dream Team. Paula and Claudia