Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Andrew Vansickle on Kevin White

Above: One of Kevin White's pieces in the "Out of Order" exhibit at Thunder-Sky, Inc.

In 1987, Andrew Vansickle spent the summer working under the guidance of Rev. Howard Finster. The relationship and education lasted until Finster’s passing in 2001. He considers Howard Finster his mentor. At the time, when Outsider Art was exploding in interest, Andrew also befriended many of the “Outsider Art legends,” including Mose Tolliver, RA Miller, Billie Lemming, and Rev. BF Perkins. He has helped coordinate a number of art exhibitions in the past 20 years, including one of the first Outsider Art exhibits in Ohio, “Howard Finster: Man of Visions” at the University of Cincinnati Gallery. He is currently the board president of Visionaries & Voices, as well as a working artist, and has known Kevin White for several years. Below are some things he had to say upon seeing Kevin White's work for the "Out of Order" exhibit opening at Thunder-Sky, Inc. February
26, 2010.

When I first saw Kevin's work back in 2003/2004 at Essex Studios in Walnut Hills, I was really taken aback by how much it seemed to have in common with traditional outsider artists like Howard Finster and William Hawkins. I recognized right off that he was going to be one of the greats. He has a raw painterly confidence that totally made me flachback to the late 80s when outsider art began to explode with interest. His work has simplicity, but also sophistication. It's a grand-slam. And I was excited, and still am, at what Kevin's next aesthetic move might be.

Kevin's work can also be easily compared and contrasted with "insider artists" like Franz Klein, Miro, and the constructions of Louise Nevelson. He visually flattens Nevelson's architecture. He does not reference modern art; he kind of uses it without knowing it, which makes for an even more interesting reinvention.

If you ask me what might be Kevin's biggest influence it would his dad. His father was an airport designer and engineer, and Kevin's work truly has a spatial and architectural overlay. You can see that also in the way he lays out all his drawings once he is finished and tries to create a sort of city out of them. Like he is a city-planner conducting business on another planet.

He wants to create a world, in other words. He is truly into organizing and categorizing and at the end of the day his paintings and sculptures have that rare quality of someone totally in charge of their gifts. It's been a pleasure getting to know him, and also collaborating with him when I curated his last exhibit (Summer 2008 at AVS Gallery in Cincinnati). He is a star, and I really look forward to the new show.