Andy Kehoe, an artist originally from Pittsburg and now working in Portland, captured my attention recently when browsing works in the online Sebastian Foster Gallery. Seeing his art next to our previously published Jennifer Davis, I couldn’t help but feel that I was in parallel worlds. Davis using Easter pastels and Kehoe with autumn tones, both creating worlds that are magical, yet disturbing.
Here’s a Kehoe art-roundup coupled with a sampling of online interview questions, perfect for this erie time of year.
Sour Harvest: Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for “The World Unseen…“? What’s the story with the show’s title?
Andy Kehoe: I’ve been flirting with the spirit world in recent shows and I decided to do a show solely focused on it. I’ve never really done a show with such a defined theme before so it’s been fun. This show is all about ghosts and spirits and also about forces that exist behind life. There are also a good number of creatures that live between both worlds and these are the ones I really love talking to… I mean painting.
Diskursdisko: Much of your artwork is based around portraits of monsters that seem to inhabit a world where it’s permanently autumn – how did you develop this style?
Andy Kehoe: Autumn is definitely my favorite season and I feel a certain nostalgia when it comes around. Something that harkens back to a time when I was young and the world still held wonders. As for the season itself, the leaves, the smell, the first cool breezes of the fall air, I love it all. I always wish it could stick around longer and maybe that’s why it’s a permanent autumn in my work. I’ve also invented reasons the land is always autumn, but maybe I’ll explain that down the line.
Diskursdisko: Looking at your pictures often makes me think of “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak – do you feel influenced by the book, or children’s books in general?
Andy Kehoe: I get that reference a lot! Honestly, I never really got into that book too much as a kid. I was more into Conan, Spiderman, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and anime movies.
I mainly started drawing beasts and creatures because I got bored of drawing people. Two eyes, one nose, one mouth… some people can find endless ways to make this interesting, but I couldn’t. With creatures, anything is possible and that was what I was looking for. I am definitely grateful that people reference me to such a beautiful classic. Especially one that so many people have kept so dearly in their hearts… and I’m definitely excited to see the movie coming out!
Shiny Squirrel: Is your work based on folklore or mythology?
Andy Kehoe: I'm very intrigued by both folklore and mythology. Though I'd probably say these pieces have more to do with folklore. They are both attempts of people to explain the mysteries of being alive in a world that doesn't make sense. But most myths were considered true at some point in history and had a lot to do with Gods and other super-natural beings. Folklore comes from the stories of normal people and no one considered them as fact, but they did hold a lot of truths of society during those times. It's more about people dealing with everyday issues and fears and less to do with mighty men squaring off with all-powerful Gods.