Published 1:07 am Tuesday, March 5, 2019

LAAC features Hargrave’s work

The Andalusia Lower Alabama Arts Coalition’s featured artist for this month, Kevin Hargrave, said he is inspired by people.

“People and animals are my greatest inspiration,” Hargrave said. “People have so many different personalities. Some people are so simplistic in the way they do things, then you have some people that have multiple layers so I like trying to capture some of that stuff.”

Hargrave only began painting seriously two years ago, but has been drawing since an early age.

“I would consider myself a beginner painter,” Hargrave said. “I only started painting two years ago. At the age of four I started drawing. I started off just drawing with pencils. Growing up as a kid and a teenager, I was really big into comic books and cartoon characters, so I started drawing them.”

In the late 1970s, Hargrave crossed over from drawing cartoon characters to drawing more realistic things.

“I met this man that moved into my neighborhood in North Carolina,” Hargrave said. “He was an artist as well, and made his living as an artist. His paintings looked so realistic and I thought to myself, ‘That that’s the kind of artist that I want to be,’ so I started working on realism.”

This week’s opening reception has a Mardi Gras theme because a lot of Hargrave’s paintings are of jazz and blues musicians.

“I have always been a great fan of music,” Hargrave said. “Back in 2017, I was at an art show in Ozark and met some people that told me about a blues fest that was held in Dothan. Those people really liked me for some reason, so one thing led to another and I got invited to be the artist for that show. I started working on a series of blues and jazz musicians and I just continued it.”

Hargrave said that he is usually very hard on himself when it comes to his paintings.

“When I made the transition from cartoons to realism, I remember having a lot of frustration and I was probably way too hard on myself,” Hargrave said. “If it didn’t look exactly like the photograph that I was working with, then I would throw it away. It could have been the best drawing ever, but at that time I would just rip it up and start completely over.”

When it comes to painting, Hargrave said that the best part of it all is taking some so mundane and making it come to life.

“If you’re looking at somebody playing an instrument, you’re not looking at the lines in their face, or their hands straining because they are trying to get that right chord,” Hargrave said. “I focus on that kind of thing. No matter what it is. Even if I just paint an apple, I draw the little divots, nicks and subtle variations of light and shadows on the apple. At the same time, you would be surprised at how many people will see stuff like that and it will remind them of something that they went through during their childhood. Maybe they were at their grandmother’s house and the one thing they could remember about their grandmother would be the way she fixed something for them to eat and they would sit at the dining room table and they would remember how the light reflects off the apple.”

Hargrave came to Alabama from North Carolina by way of the U.S. Army. Now he works as a dental assistant for the Army, but he still finds time to make his art.

“After work I usually run errands and then when I come home I’ll start drawing and painting,” Hargrave said. “Usually I have two projects going on at any given time. Right now, I’m working on a pastel drawing and an acrylic painting.”

He said that he is very excited to come down to Andalusia for the reception because the people in Andalusia are like family.

“I am very appreciative of the gallery,” Hargrave said. “They are very enthusiastic about helping people and everyone seems like family. Part of the excitement of this is just being able to see everybody again and knowing that they support me. I’m really just excited for people to see what I can do, because I don’t take it lightly. I believe that God blessed me with this talent.”

The reception will be from 5:30 until 7 p.m. on Thurs., March 7.