Monday, March 18, 2013

Seen: Kenny Echezabal @ WTCA

Decades ago in the early 1980's, before the trendy bars and gentrification brought in their own kind of blight, Ybor was quiet, if not desolate, but it had its own charms. As with South Beach, SOHO etc., the artists pioneered the space, bringing about its latter-day Genesis -- when they were pushed out by the landlords that benefited from their presence, but that is another story.

Among the many very talented artists around back then was a young man who had a studio named Dog Eat Dog right on 7th Ave. He was a tall, handsome figure, fond of light blues, fluorescents and eyes, dozens of them, in his paintings and even in a suit I wanted to own. Many of the paintings were of his Muse/girlfriend, a beautiful and interesting woman who frequented the studio.

Three decades went by. There was an exodus of artists from Ybor when the City recklessly handed out liquor licenses, driving rents up and the very people who had re-created Ybor, the artists, out. Many of our best and brightest left the city. Rick Melby comes to mind. During the intravening years I ran into Kenny every few years, and said hello, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I saw his current artwork at the WTCA (which, sadly, seems to have lost direction and steam on a grand scale, rapidly sliding into relative irrelevance in the Tampa artscape.).

 I walked into a room with some paintings hung, others propped against the walls, and instantly knew they were Echezabal's.

All work by Kenny Echezabal

Work by Kenny Echezabal
Work by Kenny Echezabal
 Note the smaller paintings above have 'smears' on them, done by dragging a plexi plate across part of the surface. Kenny told me he has studied the work of Gerard Richter, who uses this technique in a very different manner. Kenny's style is spontaneous, richly organic, edgy, and as he calls it, shockwave.

Kenny Echezabal & his work.

It was great to see Kenny and his work again.

--- Luis

Kenny Echezabal can be reached here [Link]

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