The New Vanguard III: Interview with Kevin Peterson for ‘Embers’

Thinkspace is proud to present new work by Kevin Peterson for his latest exhibition ‘Embers’ as a part of ‘The New Vanguard III’ showing at The Lancaster Museum of Art.

A gifted hyperrealist painter, Peterson creates a fictional world in which innocence and collapse are brought into difficult proximity. Each mundane surface meticulously rendered to create a dystopian backdrop for babes and their benevolent conspirators, appearing as beacons of hope in a desolate space.

In anticipation of ‘Embers‘, our interview with Kevin Peterson discusses the pressure of showing at a museum, painting his son, and how he sometimes has to trash a piece.

SH: How long have you been showing your work in galleries and various exhibitions? Do you remember the first time you showed your work to the public? What was the exhibition?

KP: I guess for as long as I remember. It was the only thing I was good at in school. I was the kid who could draw. I always entered contests and stuff like that. As far as professionally, what I consider my first “real” gallery show was 2008. 

SH: When painting, what are you listening to in the background?

KP: Music or audiobooks. I go through many audiobooks. Contemporary fiction mostly. 

SH: What was the inspiration behind the body of work that you will be showing for New Vanguard III?

KP: Growing up in this world and the challenges we face in an attempt to thrive. 

SH: When viewing other artists’ work, what elements get you excited or inspire you?

KP: I guess identifying a style that is unique to the artist. That thing that you will remember in the future and when you see another piece you will know exactly who made it. It’s the hardest thing to do at this point where so much has already been done.

SH: Does having an exhibition at a museum feel different than showing work at a gallery?

KP: Yes, always. I don’t set tons of goals for myself as an artist, but that is one. It feels sort of more accessible to have work in a museum too, and I really like that. The public is welcome, galleries can sometimes be intimidating. 

SH: Every person experiences that moment, when they are in the middle or even at the start of something, where it feels overwhelming or isn’t going as planned – how do you personally push through those difficult moments?

KP: I’m in that position every time I make a painting. During the early stages usually. I feel like it will never look the way I want it to. At this point, I know not to panic. I know I have to just keep working it. If I put the time in, it will work out. Of course, I’ve also trashed some paintings as well. Rarely, but sometimes that’s the best thing to do. Start something new and chalk it up to experience, that can be valuable. 

SH: If you could show your work beside any artist, in the entire history of art, who would you want to share wall space with?

KP: Jerome Witkin

SH: What piece challenged you most in this body of work and why?

KP: I used my son for a model in one of these paintings. I’ve used him before, and its always so challenging. I feel this different level of need to get his features exactly perfect. If it’s a different model that I don’t really know well, it doesn’t matter so much, I just paint until I feel happy with the look.

SH: Do you have any pre-studio rituals that get the creative juices flowing?

KP: Procrastinating on the computer for a few hours? Coffee for sure.

SH: We declare The New Vanguard III is a milestone in your artistic journey, what are three other milestones that mark your path and life as an artist?

1. I got sober 15 years ago and I do credit that with inspiring a lot of my work- just contemplating growing up and being more introspective. 

2. Quitting my day job and doing art full time. 

3. The very first time my work hung in a museum. It was the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville in 2016. That was really important to me.


Curated by Thinkspace Projects

September 12 through December 27, 2020

Lancaster Museum of Art and History
665 W. Lancaster Blvd.
Lancaster, California 93534

Featuring Solo Exhibitions From:
ALEX GARANT “Deconstructing Identities”
KATHY AGER “Fool’s Gold”

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