‘Purposeful journeys’ in art
Knopp paints beyond the surface
By Robert Cloud
Artist Kevin Knopp wants those who view his paintings to look beyond the surface to the emotional experience that inspired them.
“The surface of a painting or drawing conveys a visual perception of the space represented,” he said. “I strive for the paint to dissolve as much as possible into a recreation of a visual experience on the surface of the work.”
“Beyond the Surface” is the theme of Knopp’s upcoming exhibit at the Alexander House in Port Edwards.
An opening reception for the show is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14.
Knopp’s paintings and the sculpture of T.C. Farley of Neshkoro will be on exhibit Jan. 14 to Feb. 22.
Located at 1131 Wisconsin River Drive, the Alexander House is open from 1-4 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For the past 34 years, Knopp has lived and worked in Waupaca, living with his wife Mary Kay and his animal companions.
His work shows the influence of Impressionism, both in terms of his plein air painting techniques and choice of softer, more pastel colors.
Knopp points to the Evaline Kimball collection of French Impressionist paintings in Chicago.
“The Chicago Art Institute was my first exposure to Impressionist painting,” he said.
He later spent time in Paris and earned his MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Art.
Knopp also encountered 20th-century work of abstract impressionism while an undergraduate art student at Viterbo University and while attending the New York Studio School.
Knopp noted how significant the surface of a painting is in the work of abstract impressionist Mark Rothko.
He has exhibited his oil paintings and drawings in art centers and galleries throughout Wisconsin and Chicago. He is currently represented in the Milwaukee area by the David Barnett Gallery.
While influenced by the works he admires, Knopp said other influences include literature and classical music.
“I’m a 19th-century kind of guy,” he said.
His paintings are also influenced by “the uncanny and overlooked in our ubiquitous everyday landscape” that he encounters while traveling “as a piano tuner and purposeful tourist.”
“Tree in Pomerania” is a painting inspired by one of Knopp’s journeys as a purposeful tourist.
Knopp’s grandmother, who immigrated to the United States in 1881 when she was 5 years old, was born in Pomerania.
He visited there as part of a personal pilgrimage to connect with his family’s past.
Another painting from Knopp’s trip to his ancestral origins is “Szczecin Harbor,” which depicts a major city on the Oder River in the Pomeranian region on the Polish-German border.
Local landscapes can be seen in “8 AM Faskel Road” and “Jackson Pass.”
“The image is a particular event and emotional experience in time and space that is then hopefully conveyed to the viewer,” Knopp said. “Its power for me is subjective; based upon my serendipitous wanderings through the world I travel in.”
Knopp has taught art on every level, most recently at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as an adjunct professor of painting and art appreciation. He presented a visual talk on the French painting collection of the Art Institute of Chicago at Waupaca’s Winchester Academy.
He is also a founding member and drummer for the musical groups The Band Orphans and Snack Bar Flamingos and has tuned and serviced acoustic pianos for four decades.