“We get calls all the time from people saying they have ‘discovered’ a new Western artist we should be collecting,” says Seth Hopkins, executive director at the Booth Western Art Museum in Georgia. “Usually these turn out to be a relative or friend who is trying to help an artist who is not ready for prime time. However, when I received a call from a gallery owner who was telling about an artist in another gallery and he was offering to buy a piece for the Booth collection—that got my attention.”
Industry veteran Bill Handler has owned galleries for years in Georgia; Park City, Utah; Florida; and elsewhere, so he has seen his share of art. On a visit to his eye doctor in Park City, the good doctor urged him to check out the work of a talented new artist who was renting studio space on the floor above. Handler took the challenge and walked upstairs to find Kevin Kehoe and his contemporary takes on the West. He was immediately smitten.
Thanks to the generosity of Bill Handler and his son and business partner Gary, Western Book Club was recently donated to the Booth collection. Kehoe had a successful run as an advertising executive and creative director before deciding to pursue fine art in 2013. “I decided to follow my heart and pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a painter. Allowing the painter inside of me to be revealed seemed long overdue. Reinventing one’s self isn’t easy, never dull and ever invigorating,” says the artist.
Early indicators of success have included his selection as one of two artists to be included in the opening exhibition at the brand new Southern Utah Museum of Art in 2016. Twelve paintings in his series called Western Therapy, including Western Book Club, were included in the inaugural exhibit. The state of Utah also purchased a work from the series and he was picked up by Altamira Fine Art. His first solo gallery show opened at Altamira’s Scottsdale location in 2017. Kehoe says he is amazed at how quickly things have progressed for him lately. “I’m excited about the possibilities that the future holds. It feels as though this was the plan all along. That everything in my creative life before this was preparing me for this special purpose. As I like to say, I’m all in.”
When it comes to his philosophy on art he states it fairly simply, “It’s realism with a soft but precise painterly quality that expresses my subject matter like an emotionally conjured image. I try to capture how a moment in time or experience should be relished and remembered. Simply put, I strive to paint how something makes me feel. How I want to recall it in my mind and more importantly, my heart,” says Kehoe.
The Booth Museum strives to be the country’s leading collector of living artists and contemporary depictions of the West. Kehoe, although fairly new to the Western genre, shows a definite talent for identifying interesting ideas and compositions that are set in the West but convey universal thoughts or messages. And while he lives and works in the West and loves the region, he does not consider himself a Western artist. “I call myself a New American painter because I’m exactly that, with a healthy emphasis on ‘new,’” says Kehoe. His newest series focuses on horses, which he calls Of Horse, Of Heart. One of the first pieces in the series is a work called Morning Air, a 32-by-42-inch oil on linen, available at Altamira’s Jackson Hole location.
Hopkins says the Booth Museum is pleased to be adding this work to its collection at this time. “We believe Kevin has a bright future in the art world, and we are thrilled to be getting a great early work. We look forward to following his career, seeing how he progresses and perhaps adding more of his work to the collection down the road.”
—Courtesy the Booth Western Art Museum
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Kevin Kehoe, Western Book Club, oil on poly-linen, 30 x 50"