Who Is Kehinde Wiley?

About a week ago, I discovered an amazing artist who I had never heard of, despite the past few months of vigorous art blog and e-zine browsing.

There was a segment in one of my favorite fantasy shows, The Secret Lives of The Super Rich, that covered the growing popularity of Art Basel among the art-loving 2 percent.  The segment followed an older couple who, among a select group of other wealthy collectors, enjoyed a “first dibs” browse of the works on display.  I found it quite funny that the narrator of the show mentioned that there seemed to be.. ” alot of really expensive stuff that shouldn’t be called art”.  This couple, however, was looking for real art.  Something new and exciting to add to their current multi-million dollar collection.  From what I observed, they bought at least 5 different works of “art”.  By the end of the spree(which lasted about an hour), the couple was reported to have spent around $300,000!

One of the works that they purchased was a kind of second-chance offering for another painting that had already been sold.  In fact, the curator literally pulled it from a nearby closet.  It was an original oil painting by renowned artist Kehinde Wiley.  A beautiful 96″ x 72″ canvas from his An Economy of Grace series.  Although both paintings were shown for only a few moments, I could tell that it had been painted by an artist of considerable talent.  The buyers were familiar with the artist and did not blink at the $125,000 asking price!


A few days after recording that episode, I went back to my DVR to review the segment again.  I pressed replay several times so I could catch the name of the artist.   After 5 or 6 replays, I kept hearing “Candy Wiley”.  I knew that first name couldn’t be right, but I searched it in Google anyway.  Maybe enough people had misheard the name as I did.  Of course, Google made the connection(and the correction) and offered the artist’s name and website within the results.  Wow!  I must admit that I have not seen or heard of such a celebrated African-American painter since Jean-Michel Basquiat.  I’m sure that statement has been made many times over during Mr. Wiley’s rise to prominence, despite that fact that their painting styles are completely different.

I guess what surprised me the most about my discovery of Kehinde Wiley is that without having any prior knowledge of the artist, I developed an opinion – even a mental image of who I thought the artist might be.  Based on a few glimpses of his work, I was thoroughly impressed.  It was apparent that the subject in all of the paintings was a brown-skinned male or female – painted with the skill of a renaissance master.  I am ashamed to admit that I did not expect the artist to be African-American.  I questioned why a (white)artist would focus solely on black/brown subjects.  I doubted, momentarily,  that a black artist could be a modern master.  I was pleasantly surprised(and humbled) to learn otherwise.

Related Links:

Artsy’s Kehinde Wiley Page


From The Unknown

When I have the rare moment to research artistic inspiration from around the world, I do so objectively.  I cannot say that I have an absolute favorite artist any more than I have a favorite genre, period or subject.  Regardless, I am attracted to the work itself and how it moves me.

I will occasionally use the in-site filters to sift the results down to a selection that is most relateable to me.  Meaning,  the artist or the work resembles myself and the work that I like to create.  On my favorite sites such as Artsy.com or Saatchi.com, I usually only filter by Region(United States), Style(Abstract/Contemporary), and Size(Large).  I browse the works of the emerging artists and well-established artists.  Sometimes, I can’t tell the difference regardless of the press(or prices).  I simply look for pieces that catch my eye.  Pieces that furrow my brow and perplex me.  During my searches, I am also placing myself somewhere in the mix.  Constantly questioning what kind of impression my work would have on the casual art browser or (even better)the avid art collector.  I suppose that I am both building my own wishlist as well as envisioning my own success as an international artist.

I am far from obtaining either at the moment.  Yet, I continue to search for exquisite pieces to add to my expanding virtual art collection.  I live vicariously through artists who are making a name for themselves. Some seem to have been randomly-yet-lovingly, plucked from the global pool of the unknown and ushered into museums and galleries to be offered huge commissions and command 5 and 6-figures for their paintings.  Others, display such talent and mastery in their work, that there is no question as to why they should be celebrated.  I would gladly walk either one of those roads to success.

December 25, 2014 at 02:32PM

This building appears to explode from the landscape yet remain cloaked by its surroundings at the same time.



Bureau LADA. ( DHL Architecture for Atelier Malkovich ) Pavilion for an Artist . Amsterdam, The Netherlands. photos : Thomas Lenden

The Pavilion has a strong, hard and reflective shell and a warm, soft core. It is an uninterrupted space, an archive corridor, where the artist can walk around and around, endlessly roaming through their orderly labyrinth, master of their soul. If full to the brim it must be emptied and tidied – it is a hard disc for the creative mind! (c) archdaily http://ift.tt/1wJKB8L

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Virtual Art Hanging

In my continued effort to make use of this my downtime, I have started working on my virtual art hanging project. In essence, I am using the skills that I learned in my architectural CAD classes to create virtual rooms in which to hang my artwork. As I delve deeper into my own designs, it becomes apparent to me that I do not have to stick to a “rooms-only” theme. I have been taking copious notes as the ideas come to me.

As with other self-started projects, I am sharing my initial attempts with those who may find them interesting. And, of course, I am open to feedback and suggestions. Here’s what I’ve got so far…

This is a fairly simple rendering compared to the last one I completed for my Architectural Rendering class. I used the same autoCAD drawing as a template. The room has a gallery feel with while painted walls and stealth lighting that is softly projected around the perimeter of the dropped ceiling. I alternated between two different tile colors to see which worked best with the lighting. The large carpet and leather/wood bench are meant to create a warm, residential feel.

I created a custom fireplace with custom ceramic poker holders. Three art pieces hang above the fireplace. The largest is my current favorite untitled concrete panel panel. It does not appear in its original form with stainless steel bolts at each corner. Instead, it has been cropped and framed in brushed chrome. To the left and right are enlarged versions of some older ink drawings of mine framed in anodized aluminum.

A simplified rendering featuring a custom fireplace.  No art or furniture has been added.

A simplified rendering featuring a custom fireplace. No art or furniture has been added.

Wide-angle view of the fireplace art display.  Art has been superimposed and a piece of furniture has been added.

Wide-angle view of the fireplace art display. Art has been superimposed and a piece of furniture has been added.

Close-up angled view of the fireplace art display.

Close-up angled view of the fireplace art display.

I know it’s only my first rusty attempt since graduating, but I feel like I need to make a much more elaborate attempt. As our instructor, Brian Lym of Lym Architecture told us in class, it’s going to take a long time to master the application of materials, mapping and lighting to lend indistinguishable realism to the environment.

ISBU Design Project

It has been exactly one month since my graduation from ACC. I’ve been in job search mode for the past 3 weeks and patiently waiting for delivery of my official A.A.S. Diploma which, by the way, will represent the beginning of my engineering career -or- my architectural “pre-education”. After the first few semesters, I came to realize that even after I obtained my associates degree, I would not even be close to having the priviledge of calling myself an architect. In fact, after hearing how much more schooling I would need to undergo, I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to take it that far. After all, it seems to me like the education-to-salary ratio for architects is a bit uneven in comparison to other engineering careers. Being an architect no longer has the superstar appeal that it did when I was a kid. Still, I feel like I’m being lead down this path for some unknown reason. With one degree down and at least one more to go, I need to keep up the momentum. For now, I’ll need to keep the bills paid and the little mouths fed using the skills from my previous careers(i.e. sales, IT or customer service)

In order to stay sharp in all the rendering programs that I have learned to use over the last 18 months, like AutoCAD, 3DS Max and Revit, I have decided to initiate a few of my personal design projects. One of the ideas that had been floating around in my head was a design for a personal creative space/art studio that is constructed from one or more ISBU’s(Intermodal Steel Shipping Unit) – better known as shipping containers.

Basic 20ft  and 40ft ISBUs drafted using AutoCAD 2013.

Basic 20ft and 40ft ISBUs I drafted using AutoCAD 2013.

Shipping container test rendered using 3DS Max with low light and no background.

My ISBU test rendering using 3DS Max with low light and no background.

Styrofoam blocks a made for quick and configuration mock-ups and sketches.

Some styrofoam blocks that I made for quick configuration mock-ups and sketches.

There are already a few ISBU projects that have been successfully completed here in Austin. Probably the most recognized was the La Boite coffee shop on south Lamar. I found out later that La Boite was designed by a UT School of Architecture graduate. After a few weeks of research, I found several other local projects in the works. Not to mention the countless other – and much more elaborate projects around the world. I have collected a few of my favorite examples.

Single-family design by MEKA World

Single-family design by MEKA World

Stunning house built with 7 ISBUs by Maison IDEKIT Home.

Stunning house built with 7 ISBUs by Maison IDEKIT Home.

2-container cliffhanger home bt Studio-H:T

2-container cliffhanger home by Studio-H:T

I plan on starting with this stand-alone, green studio project using 1 – 3 20ft. containers. In order to maximize the natural light, much of the steel paneling will be cut out to make room for large windows on every wall except the main hanging wall which will double as the painting/work wall. The studio will be wired for lighting, heating and air conditioning. Roof-mounted solar panels will provide auxiliary power. I want to integrate as many natural materials into the interior as possible. Bamboo is my favorite wood-like materials. It should do well for the flooring and the furniture.

As I learn more about the various building methods, from foundations to insulation and external veneers, I will attempt to design something larger. Something that is a little more architecturally unique. From what I have seen so far, there are no set rules regarding these ISBU-based designs – with the exception of regional building codes. Again, being less of an architect and more of a drafter, codes will remain one of my areas of weakness until I get further in my architectural education.