Show Preview | Ken Grant

Cannon Beach, OR
White Bird Gallery, August 29-September 30

Ken Grant, The Readers Corner, oil, 30 x 40.

Ken Grant, The Readers Corner, oil, 30 x 40.

This story was featured in the September 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

In 1960, Ken Grant and a fellow art-school student moved to Cannon Beach, OR, and opened the first art gallery in town. “We had the whole beatnik thing going on,” Grant says, then laughs, “Cannon Beach didn’t want beatnik artists in town.” A lot has changed in the small artists’ haven since then, and this month White Bird Gallery—one of more than a dozen galleries in town—presents 12 to 15 new paintings by the former gallery owner. “Over the years Ken has focused on themes ranging from architectural studies to quirky, surreal scenes,” says gallery owner Allyn Cantor. “This new exhibit shows a cross-section of his varied interests.”

The quasi-fantastic worlds depicted in a Grant interior find their origins in the early 20th-century Craftsman bungalows that populate older suburbs and stir almost palpable nostalgia. “Our house was built in 1910 or 1912,” Grant says. “Back then you could open up the Montgomery Ward catalog and order a house plan and materials, and you could build yourself a house.” Grant gains access to many such homes through estate sales and requests permission to photograph them once they’re empty. Using these reference 
photos, he develops his own vision, a 
style he calls “romantic impressionist” painting, “because it’s the romantic impression of what I see,” he says. “I want people to feel the atmosphere in the room and the warmth of the sunlight when they look at [the paintings].”

The spartan interior scenes, featuring little more than a simple table or period chair, highlight the architectural details to which Grant is drawn: open stairways, polished wood floors, crown molding, “closets with a window!” But the most iconic element of Grant’s interiors is, ironically, a soul-soothing view of the ocean, often visible through a window. “The main thing I hope to do is make people happy,” he says. “I am not one of those angst people.”

The September show also includes a selection of still-life and surreal works, some of which reveal a significant palette change for the artist. “I tend to use earth tones in my work,” he says, but visitors to the show can see a vibrant depiction of scarlet macaws and at least two works featuring the vividly colored ceramics of English potter Clarice Cliff. —Laura Rintala

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Featured in the September 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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