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Hi everyone my name is Donald Kennedy and I am seventy three years old, but don’t let that scare you off, because I to came from a generation that said, to the world “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Just like you we had new ideas, new music, poets, writers, painters, sculptors, cinematographers “et al” and we were going to change the world. Politics be dammed the “Third World War,” The Korean War,” were in our past the French were trying to regain Indo China from an upstart people who had driven the “Jap’s” out of their country with little or no help from the French or the Americans and the called this new country Viet Nam and in this conflict we supported the French who were an ally during the Second World War and previously they had claimed ownership before the “Second World War.” Granted the Allies had won the war, but the French weren’t involved very much in Asia during that war since they had capitulated to the Germans in 1940, still when the war was over and France had been liberated they were now with the “winners” and they wanted their toys back and that included countries they had abandoned Corsica, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Indo China but the restoration of their pre war colonial empire believing it was theirs by “Devine right” to their thinking it was if nothing had occurred in the world in the intervening years. As matter of course it was these eighteen century concepts of nationalism ethnic superiority with convoluted alliances that started the whole ball of wax rolling in the first place. It was France and Belgium that demanded harsh retributions after the First World War destroying Germany’s economy to crash and poverty and worthless money to the forefront and bringing radical ideas to acceptability like Hitler.
Sorry for the diversion I grew up in East Hampton in the fifties (change your mind set) the Second World War was over and The United States was one of the few countries that even had an economy. I worked for “Donald Braider’s Book’s and Music” that sold autographed first editions along with the usual fare. To say that the store was unique was an understatement, Mr. Braider was an eccentric and due to its previous history East Hampton attracted most of the artists and intellectuals fleeing the chaos of Europe and the heat and dreariness of New York City. Mr. Braider opened a gallery in the back of the book store, that had a sliding door that opened on to a ally albeit a rural ally. Into this room that had been a tool room of the previous owner a plumber came paintings and drawings that hang in museums and privet collection around the world and sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ironically today they couldn’t be shown in this room, so this very modest space showed a group of artists who were called “The Abstract Expressionists, “Jackson Pollock, Willem deKooning, Ibram Lassaw, Wilfred Zogbaum, Pearl Fine, James Brooks, Mark Rothko, Charlotte Park, Alphonso Ossorio, John Little, Frank O’Hara, Ray Prohaska and others. On Sundays there were prose and poetry readings by, John Steinbeck Paul Tillich, Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Koch and many more. I was fifteen and getting the best education a person could get and I didn’t even know it. While in college I worked for four summers for the “Signa” Gallery” in East Hampton owned by Ossorio, Parker and Little. One summer all the European Abstractionists were being shown and a few Asian artists. The Signa Gallery had guest lecturers like Buckminster Fuller, Isamu Noguchi and others. So now when I go into museums I see faces and people along with the art. Just out of college I worked for Orin Riley (head of conservation at the Guggenheim) and apprentice to Freidrich Kiestler (architect for the “Museum of the Dead Sea Scrolls”, the “Endless House” he was also a visionary set designer and sculptor.
I owned a frame shop and was a partner in set building business for “Off Broadway”, television, special exhibits, interior design and dance performances like: “One flew Over the “Coo Coo’s Nest,” Un Grande Coke Cola”, “Jungle of Cities” for Joe Papp, “The Enola Gay” and Shelly Winter’s three one act plays and ever so many more, since the theatre wants twenty fife hour days. There were two especially made floors for the “Guggenheim Museum” that made the auditorium flat and sturdy in order support choreographed sculpture and move sculptures with specially arranged music.
I had had a stretcher and strainer building business have made artist’s paint , pastels oil pastels, I can weld most metals making monumental metal sculptures, I can in cast gold & silver, I can work in clay have a better than average knowledge of most art media like encaustic, watercolor, oil, acrylic, (made acrylic paintings before it was mad commercially in tubes and jars) I now work digitally as well. I can build sculpture in ‘Hydrocal’, paint in casein, gouache, plaster, I do wood carving, I have worked for artists & museums stretching of paper or canvas, wood cuts, wax sculpture paper Mache’, wood carving, not stone, even though I make monumental metal sculpture I am primarily a build up sculptor. I have designed a modern museum for “John Howard Payne’s childhood home in the non historic portion of the seventeenth century building. (America’s first poet) ”That’s enough of me, if you have a question, want to start an argument or have a discussion or exchange ideas. Have at it. I all yours 1 Art may at times be hard work and I have fun because I love it and give my best. Donald Kennedy

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Donald,
I'm a big reader and I love what you wrote about your past, present and future experiences.
This past weekend my dad, who just turned 70 this past May, and I spent our time together biking, kayaking, and hiking up a mountain to roll out our sleeping bags under the stars, spending the night trying to figure out the constellations. So I am in full agreement - who says we have to get old!

Myself, while I have my BFA from Parsons School of Design, but I am just now getting back into my artwork after spending the last 12 years raising and homeschooling my two children. Someday, I too hope that I can write about all of my artistic adventures with such enthusiasm and success.
Look forward to reading more about your fascinating life experiences.

All the best,
Dear Alison, Take a little time each day dan and draw, paint or even do some digital art, Nicolides, in the " Natural Way to Draw", said, "you have 5,000 mistakes to make the sooner you make them the better you will be." All artists tend to procrastinate, I think its part of the human condition, working a little each day gets you father down the road and towards your goal. As my Mother used to say, " Nothing leaves you where it finds you." Thank you for your kind words, Michaelangelo, designed the dome St. Peter's a eighty, Frank Lloyd Wright built "Falling Water" at 72 and the Guggenheim Museum in his late eighties. Don't be defined by a number just live life to the fullest. Sincerely, Donald Kennedy
Thank you Donald, you are right! My challenge is getting side tracked with my children, husband, dog, father, etc.... which it is great to be with them and not for a second do I regret how much time I have devoted to each, but I also think that now it's my turn. It's my turn to work on my projects and ideas, and as you said make my mistakes and grow and learn from them. So thank you for your gentle reminder, I love creating and getting lost in the process and there is no better time than right now!
All the best,
hi donald - we had talked before on this forum, and i really appreciate the nuggets of insight you acquired from your contact with all the great artists you mentioned and generously pass on. i have used john little's advice "paint through the ugly" (or something similar) many times since you put that out there! i enjoy your work. no surprise that it is very well done. i particularly enjoyed the "pump" pieces.
on your WWII history, you failed to mention the creation of israel out of that same war, and with much of the same reasoning as the french in indochina, and we see where that has gotten the world!
congratulations on reaching 73. it's easy to see you still going strong at 103!
Dear Jay, Thank you for your comments and congratulations on painting through your problems as for not mentioning Israel the subject was Art and as a history buff I was already out on a limb and had to cut it short. The creation of a jewish state no matter how awkwardly it was executed was done as an act of moral necessity. More should have been done after Kristallnacht in 1939 and millions might have been saved, Pope Pius XII was a hypocrite and looked the other way and turned a deaf ear to the European Jews cries for help to appease Hitler and his gold. The establishment of Israel was a positive act and forward looking were not appeasing former Allies. It is often said of the military that they fight the present war the way they fought the last war. The only constant is that things change, paint today's painting and learn from yesterdays, always living in the present. All the best, Donald
Hi Donald;

Thanks for sharing some of your life experiences and historical insights. I guess I'm advanced enough in years that 73 doesn't sound so old to me anymore. We're not tennis players, after all - it takes a certain amount of time, work and experience to do something noteworthy in art. I'm not sure why the public expects their artists to be famous and young, especially when it's so difficult to get any recognition for artistic accomplishments.

I'd like to see more pictures of your sculptures, particularly the built-up ones you mentioned as your primary metier, also the wood carvings, castings, etc. I like that you haven't limited yourself to one particular medium or way of working, though - I can certainly relate to that. When one gets some experience across different media and techniques, I've found it's often productive of new insights and ways of working. Speaking of which, what are you doing in digital art? Is it all 2d, or have you gotten into 3d at all? That's what I've been exploring for the past few years, and it's a fascinating new frontier of art.

Did you find yourself influenced aesthetically by the abstract expressionists you met in your youth? Is that something you internalized, or reacted against? Are you still in touch with the theatrical world, and do you think there's still a role for artists there? Do you show your work in galleries now, or have you found something else to do with it? What do you think of the new work you see in the galleries these days, or in the art museums?

Andrew Werby.
Dear Andrew, A few years ago about thirty I met a tall beautiful girl who had just graduated from Boston College with a BFA & masters in sculpture and she came over to my studio to see my work and after a while I made coffee and we sat at my kitchen table and talked about sculpture. Surprised that she a received sculpture degree in paper mache' I said, "after trying other disciplines why did you choose paper mache'?" She said, "she had only worked in paper mache'" Aghast, I said that she should go back Boston College and demand her money back. A Oklahoma University, I spent four hours working in clay from the figure. Other sculpture courses carving in stone or wood & metal work were special courses. I learned casting in the Ceramics Dept.. & welding in the Engineering Dept. When I lived in NYC I would spend weekends @ the "Wood Shed"where a bunch of artists would work on their individual disciplines and we would discuss art. Each concept expresses is own medium so I learned most of them. Frank Lloyd Wright, said, "the essence of a material is expressed in its natural state and not the simulation of another material." The Abstract Expressionists made me ware Art in and for itself is enough. Donald
Oh my goodness - I think the years have been very kind. To do so much in a lifetime is extraordinary. Your drawings are enticing and delicate - so different from your sculpture. Do you find people questioning the change of style from one media to the other? In my own work, my oils don't look like my pen&inks, my pen&inks don't look like my watercolors, etc. I think the medium describes the work we do and not the other way around.
Thanks for sharing with us.
Cyndy Carstens
Dear Cyndy, Chamber music is intimate and meant for a small room to be fully enjoyed. a symphony needs a large room in order to experience the grander of the full orchestra. Sculpture deals with three dimensional space, you know the space we all live in. Drawing usually deal with the illusion of three dimensional space on two dimensional plane. The techniques are quite different for on as opposed to the other, but work for each art work. I worked very hard of establish a graphic line in my drawings and just as hard to learn "tig " welding. the more you know about your medium the more that you can do with it. Donald

No wonder you always have the most intersesting things to is because you have lead such an interesting life! I would love to have write a "weekly blurb" if your interested for the newsletters. (they will enventually get up to speed!)


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