Painter, teacher, and musician Kevin McCants debuted his latest thought-provoking art collection, Reflect: Reveal, at the Betsy Lueke Creative Arts Center on Friday, Oct. 7.
A total of 60 striking paintings were included in McCants’ presentation, which will be available for viewing at the art center through Oct. 27. Four separate art series are featured in the collection: Bergdorf Goodman Reflection, Mannequin Portraits, Through the Window Humanity Interrupted, and The Birth of a Reflection Painter. Additionally, McCants displayed numerous paintings of shoes and sketches of Black dancers like ballerina Misty Copeland, which he created in between working on paintings for Reflect: Reveal.
Starting in 2016, the artist utilized techniques such as glazing and washing when crafting the paintings to design pieces that “encapsulate an aspect of urban consumerism with lay figures that are stand-ins for our complex and often emotional lifestyle aspirations.” Reflect: Reveal explores depictions of a variety of mannequins, such as dummies donning chic attire, as seen in Bergdorf Goodman window displays. Their wardrobe items range from a co-ord set paired with fishnet stockings, to a studded leather biker jacket, to an all-black outfit worn by a mannequin sporting a mohawk hairdo.
This lineup of vivid paintings is a nod to the punk fashion scene of the ‘80s when McCants was attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and studying fashion illustration and commercial art. The artist’s first job as a teen was working at a clothing store where his sister served as the manager. McCants would sometimes dress the mannequins at the store, and he later learned that dummies provided him a reliable portrait subject through which he could evoke truth as a painter.
“I find it easier to focus on a mannequin than to focus on humans,” McCants said before adding, “[People] want you to paint the perception, which is a difficult thing because the perception of a person constantly changes… So I just wanted to paint the mannequins, do the work and keep it honest and simple.”
For the Birth of a Reflection Painter chapter of his art collection, McCants shared 12 paintings, each of which shows a step in the process of himself emerging from a canvas and eventually beginning a painting. This imagery, which had never before been seen by the public prior to the exhibit, represents McCants’ process of navigating his creative journey, starting with a fragmented spark of inspiration that he channels into accessible works of art.
“These ideas, … they come fast, they come strong, but they’re also scattered and broken,” McCants said of his artistic concepts. “So you have to try to bring them into focus and consolidate your thoughts, … You have to contemplate and stop, slow down and think about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, why you’re doing it.”
A large crowd of community members showed up at the art center to observe and analyze the evocative exhibit by McCants, who is a Burbank Art Association member. The positive reception expressed among attendees is only an enhancement of satisfaction for McCants, as the painter explains that his creative projects provide gratification independent of outside review.
“When I paint, it’s all for me. I’m not really painting for anyone,” McCants said. “The only time I sell paintings, generally, is if someone really, really wants one or it’s a commission.”
“I paint because I can’t not paint,” he added.
Learn more about Kevin McCants on his website here.
Visit the Reflect: Reveal collection at the Betsy Lueke Creative Arts Center now through Thursday, Oct. 27.