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Kevin’s paint “flower”

January 3, 2019

I hate to admit that it was a treat (after some time had gone by) to look over all the things in my late husband’s studio after he died. I discovered a variety of treasures… only a few of which were total surprises. Most were simply items that meant something different in his absence. There were objects that had worked hard, those that were used once in a while, and those who earned their keep as totems — all now idled.

One of my favorite finds was this efflorescence of dried up paint, scraped from 30 years’ worth of palettes, bursting from an old jam jar with a faux-snooty French label. I call it his “flower.”

In his time, the flower was just a tool in his studio, a structure based on tidying up (Kevin was very neat), and in fact, just a short step up from garbage. Now I see it as something truly unique, a keepsake, and a trace of his working method that is just so him.

We’ve had some artist friends who’ve found creative uses for their old paint scraps (Clark V. Fox, one of Kevin’s oldest and closest friends, used to slice them thin and make brooches, I was told) but I’ve never seen anything like this. Kevin didn’t even produce that many paintings (works on paper were his specialty) — though I do recall him being somewhat proud of this lump of lumps in its ordinary grandeur, its order of chaos.

The flower is his palette — I mean his color choices, obviously it’s his palette, literally as well — and changes endlessly as you turn it, full of details and foldings and the sense of crust. It forces, perhaps, wondering where the other “half” of each blot is now and how the hundreds of studio days turned out. It’s a sculpture made of the residue of flat work, and something only, one thinks, another artist would appreciate.

But it’s lovely, it’s recycling, and I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to let it go.