Tim Kennedy / Paynetown
 
Looking into the water as it reflects a deep blue sky speckled with quickly moving clouds, one forgets that it is actually a reservoir built in the early 1960’s. An intact town is rumored to sit at the bottom of the lake, but this is a myth. The Corps of Engineers bought up an entire village through eminent domain thinking that the new water line would reach it, but they miscalculated and the town is still high and dry. In this portion of the state park, a little peninsula with picnic tables and steel barbecue stations juts into the water. The peninsula shelters a little marina and floating fuel depot on one side and opens into a crescent moon beach with a swimming area on the other. A causeway constructed from broken stone and carrying an intermittent stream of cars is visible across the water to the east.
 
Indiana is not legendary for its diversity, but a surprisingly varied range of people frequent the park. African American and Latino families from Indianapolis and Kokomo drive down for a week during the summer to camp, fish and lounge on the tiny beach. A group of young Saudi men, pull up in snazzy high performance cars. Some are sporting thobes and the red and white Saudi keffiyeh while others wear casual western dress. They sit on the tops of picnic tables, play Middle Eastern music from their car stereos and take turns doing traditional dances. An extended Korean family celebrates a birthday with a cookout. They arrange the picnic tables on end as a Mylar effigy of SpongeBob Squarepants gently sways in the breeze tied to the end of a reflective tether from their table. The park is crowded on the weekends, but can empty out during the week, especially on cloudy or cool days. A courting Muslim couple, the woman modestly dressed and wearing Hijab, surreptitiously meets to shyly hold hands and tentatively neck. I have seen all of these things while I have painted in the park.
 
In the past I have done groups of paintings that have focused on the houses that my wife and I have lived in, peopled with figures that reflect our lives together.  I supplemented these figure compositions with paintings of our surrounding neighborhood. It seemed natural to me to widen this circle of subjects to include exterior spaces intended for public use such as the park on the lake. I suppose that water, docks, boats, swimmers, campers and trees are old motifs, but they have felt vivid and new to me. The paintings I did of these places gradually transformed themselves into reimagined spaces until they took on the form of large figure compositions. 
 
In addition to the paintings of figures in public spaces I have continued to pursue a practice of portraiture. This dovetails with my desire to transition from exclusively painting the sphere of the private to the public. I have made a point of painting my neighbors and work colleagues. When I paint portraits, I am particularly attracted to painting people that are connected in some fashion, such as a couple in a romantic relationship or people from the same family. I always feel that there is some magnetism inherent in these situations; in the case of a parent and a child there is frequently a physical resemblance. The most elaborate of these portraits for me has been my painting of the Ksander-Hicks family. This is a six-foot canvas with the figures just under life scale. Yael Ksander is a personality and arts journalist for the local NPR affiliate associated with Indiana University and, her husband Glenn Hicks was a cameraman for our public television station. The painting also includes their children Jarno and Solveig. Children are particularly difficult to paint; they would rather be someplace else – and who can blame them? My admiration for Sargent only grows.  
 
These paintings have been done directly from the subject or from painted or drawn studies done directly from the subject. Working directly from the motif without an intervening filter such as photography, at least for now, is important to me. I think of my eye and my consciousness as a kind of funnel into which the world is poured and from which judgments about color, space and shape emerge in the form of a painting. This has seemed the simplest and best way for me to produce work.  
 
Tim Kennedy
Bloomington / December 2014
 

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