Emerging Artists | Kevin Kehoe

Western medicine

Kevin Kehoe, West End, oil, 26 x 40.

Kevin Kehoe, West End, oil, 26 x 40.

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Seven years ago, Kevin Kehoe moved with his wife and daughter from their home on the East Coast to their seasonal “escape hatch” in Utah—a mountain home nestled between the Uinta Mountains and the Wasatch Back near Heber Valley. The permanent change in scenery prompted Kehoe to hit “the reset button” on his life, and in 2013, he began painting. “I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in three decades,” says the former advertising creative director. “It just seemed like the perfect time to make the leap.”

Now the full-time artist says he’s “aiming high” to make up for lost time, but in many ways, his illustrious, 30-year advertising career favorably shaped his habits today as a painter, including his penchant for conceiving ideas in “campaigns and series.” Kehoe explains: “I put my thumb on an organizing idea that inspires me, and then I express it in 10 different ways.” Take his recent solo show at Altamira Fine Art in Scottsdale, AZ, where he showcased a collection of nocturnes depicting illuminated structures along Route 66 and around the Southwest. In another series of oils—from which the Booth Western Art Museum recently procured a painting for its permanent collection—
Kehoe portrayed everyday people in vast western landscapes, including a pair of hikers strolling through a towering slot canyon and a lone cyclist pedaling down an empty road.

Aptly titled Western Therapy, the collection celebrates the “wildly beautiful relationship between person and place, landscape and light—the human ant in the grandeur of the West,” says Kehoe. While he gives partial credit for the series title to the actor Robert Redford, who once said, “Other people have analysis; I have Utah,” the artist couldn’t agree more. “The West is medicine for my soul,” he says. “Out here, everything is limitless; everything is possible. All you can think are big, brave, beautiful thoughts. When I go out to look for paintings, that’s where my head is at.”

Kehoe shoots his own reference photographs and then “filters” the imagery through his own painterly lens. “When all those realistic images get passed through my heart, brain, and spirit, what do they come out as?” he says. “I want my paintings to look real, but where is the Kevin Kehoe in there? That’s why I’m involved. That’s why I’m standing here.” —Kim Agricola

representation
Altamira Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY.

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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