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Out of the Mainstream: Brooklyn meets Portland…. FINAL WEEK: Kevin Cyr

Monday, March 22, 2010 · No Comments

As we wrap up the Out of the Mainstream mini-series, we’re very lucky to have Kevin Cyr as our last featured Brooklyn artist. Kevin has made quite an impression on the indie art world with his stunning, photo-realist paintings of trucks and is currently headlining a show at White Walls in San Francisco through March 27th. Kevin is originally from a small town, Madawaska, in Northern Maine and has lived in Brooklyn for the past five years.

How would you describe your work?

I always describe myself as a painter, although I’ve really been into building things lately. My paintings are mostly portraits of run down vehicles I come across, living in Brooklyn that means mostly delivery trucks and vans. My interest in vehicles stems from growing up in a small mill town in Northern Maine. Witnessing the importance of hard work I see the vehicles I paint as a symbol of that trait, and over the years it’s developed into a solid body of work. A couple years ago I constructed the Camper Bike and most recently the Camper Kart, both functional sculptural pieces, and both projects utilizing common objects.

What are, in your opinion, the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

Like most things it comes down to money and time. I think the biggest challenge of being an emerging artist is finding a way to keep a steady flow of income. Until recently I’ve been working for another artist as a painting assistant. It was a great learning experience and really sharpened my painting skills, but finding time for my own work was always difficult. Making the transition from receiving a weekly paycheck to having sporadic income was a big challenge, but if forced me to look other places for financial support. This past summer I proposed a project at FEAST and received a small grant, and I also had a successful kickstarter campaign, combined these sources funded my Camper Kart project, and in turn I recently became a West Prize recipient.

What accomplishments/works of art are you most proud of?

Creating the Camper Bike was a turning point in my work. I had originally thought of the project as a drawing and painting series, and I thought of myself solely as a painter. Building the Camper Bike was a great personal accomplishment, it’s allowed me rethink the way I work. I’ve always been interested in building and making things, but this was the first time I was able to take an idea from idea, sketch to plans and turn it into a functional piece. My primary interest is painting but I feel like the Camper Bike project has expanded my idea of creating work into different mediums.

Tell us about the biggest risk you’ve taken as an artist.

I think what I mentioned before about quitting my day job was risky. It’s a little daunting to think that I can’t just put in hours somewhere and collect a check at the end of the week. It happened very gradually though, so it wasn’t that dramatic of a change. I was able to transition to part time to really part time to hardly any work. So far it’s been working out fine.

What do you love most about Brooklyn?

Brooklyn feels like it’s a small town sometimes. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to take the subway everyday, I can bike to the studio and do most of my errands in my neighborhood. But when I do want to venture into Manhattan it’s only a few minutes away.

What makes Brooklyn such a great place for independent art?

The concentration of creative people in Brooklyn is probably the best thing. It means there’a always openings to check out, from galleries to apartment shows, good music, and it’s all being created independently. It certainly feels like people have taken the initiative to get their work out there. I’m still a believer that if you work hard it’ll eventually pay off.

Check out this week’s Portland artist, Scrappers Morrison.

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