I met Kevin Bednarz in 2008 at a group show in Leesburg, VA. His work was a clear departure from the landscapes, portraits and abstracts filling the rest of that space. We talked about his art, I bought one of his pieces and left the gallery thinking “all artists should be this easy to know”. Turns out, Kevin is rare in that way.
Bednarz is originally from New York state and now lives in Loudoun County where his FaceBook tagline reads “I own a bar, comic book shop & a convention. Artist. Father. Serial Entrepreneur. Don't knock the hustle.” So, it seemed appropriate to ask him to unpack that tagline a bit.
When asked how he became an artist, Kevin replied “I don’t think it was actually a decision. I was drawing since I could hold a pencil. My family were all artistic in some way.” He admits to being self taught by looking at comic books, art museums and libraries. “I took a couple of private lessons” but “the biggest thing was finding someone I liked and then imitating them until I developed my own style.”
Bednarz laughs when asked about his professional art efforts. “I wouldn’t even say that I’m a “professional” now. In college, I had an internship with an advertising agency but quit after about a week. I realized I didn’t want to be an art director. I started a graphic design company at Buffalo State College and began to produce sidewalk signs and flyers. That was my first professional art gig.” Kevin’s first shows were at the Brewerton Free Public Library in NY and at Albright-Knox Gallery where he showed his previous design and illustration work.
Bednarz’ art work runs in themes. “I like to paint a series of work. I’m into the Posca Pens I used for the most recent show at Tryst Gallery. I still think I’m searching for an ultimate style.” He draws much of his inspiration from the outside world. “Pop Culture for sure! When I saw Drew Brophy use the Posca Pens for surf art, his work spoke to me and I thought of how I could change the technique to do it my way. I’m always looking at other people’s work and I hope that people look at mine for inspiration as well.”
As a producer and consumer, Kevin embraces social media for the increased access to his and other art, “I’m a huge fan of Instagram and other social media. I think we are all going that way. But, nothing beats looking at a piece in person. Just like comic books and vinyl records won’t ever go away. There will always be a place for galleries. It will always be better to see paintings in person.”
Bednarz has bought art work made by some of his favorite contemporary producers. “I have bought more original art this year than ever before. I finally bought an original Drew Brophy and then a piece by one of my favorite artists, Jordan Nickel aka “Pose”, that’s one of my most prized possessions.
Kevi Bednarz’s art comes from his very skilled transformation of 20th century graphic and comic novel imagery. Spare outlines of the human form painted with punchy colors in layers that combine Warner Brothers comic characters with the girl next door caught with a look of surprise as she turns to first see the Creature from The Black Lagoon. These are NOT your grandmother’s landscape with fawn by pond. Instead, these paintings on canvas show a wide range of pop characters that have a multigenerational appeal reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons and sugary cereal with nothing more urgent to do than collecting that last spoon of milk.