Out & About

April 11, 2013

The artist's way less traveled

Saranac Lake poet, painter explore alternative disciplines

SARANAC LAKE — BluSeed’s latest exhibition, “Icons – Lunacy & Scribblings,” was conceived at the Left Bank Café in Saranac Lake last summer.

Dr. Maurice Kenny lunched on the balcony. Before him was a long loaf of French bread, lots of butter and red-raspberry jam. He rounded it out with Greek yogurt, fruit and tons of coffee.

BluSeed’s Carol Marie Vossler walked in and sat with Kenny. As they chatted, Vossler asked Kenny if he would like an art show.

“I said, ‘I would love it,’” said Kenny, who is a renowned Native American poet and SUNY Potsdam professor emeritus.

Asked who he wanted to collaborate with, he said artist Tim Fortune of Fortune Studio in Saranac Lake.

“I knew he did things other than the Adirondack scenes. I love his work. I’ve known him forever. I know a lot about Tim. All the time, I go into town, I stop into his studio,” Kenny said.

Years back, the Adirondack Artists Guild mounted a show based on a long poem from Kenny’s volume devoted to his father’s life, “Conversations with Frida Kahlo: Collage of Memory and Connotations.” 

For that show, Kenny drew whimsical flowers.

During SAMO’s rise and death in New York City, Kenny lived in Brooklyn when he wasn’t Greyhounding to California, New Mexico and Arizona.

“I didn’t have a teaching job. I was living off what I was making being a writer and a reader. I saw graffiti art. I didn’t go looking for it. I was going with a very beautiful Spanish Puerto-Rican woman who lived in the South Bronx. You couldn’t help to see it. It was a new art,” Kenny said. 

”At that time, Wendy Rose (Hopi/Miwok poet/writer/artist) came to town. She wrote several poems about graffiti art. She loved it. She saw it as a whole new language communicating love, hate or whatever. It was. She was absolutely correct.”

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