Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Remembering Artist Kevin Farrell (May 19, 1960 - February 13, 2024)

I was most saddened to hear of the passing of Kevin from his (and my) dear friend Charles Imbro. This past Sunday Feb. 25.

Kevin was a wonderful artist and craftsman. Unparalleled in my estimation. As young artists we shared many things - a love of aesthetics, a passion for creativity and, to a degree, a wildness of mind that fed our dedication to art while bringing with it a fierce sense of, often irreverent, humor. I remember Kevin as a stronger older brother, along with Charles, though we were the same age. He had strength and determination, they both did. Kevin possessed a great generosity toward me - a minimalist color field painter at the time, as opposed to his wonderful realism. He was what you'd call a pure painter as exemplified by his handling of paint and his precision in drawing. I stood in awe of his talent, and felt somewhat dwarfed in my youthful dedication to contemporary conceptualism & poetry. He was the real deal!

It’s impossible to think of Kevin and not remember a handful of memory’s snapshots:
-Going to see his work at some newly renovated Longshoreman’s Hall along the waters of Staten Island and the wild celebration afterwards. A celebration that continued on up to Charles’ apartment with much libation, discussion and laughter as was almost always the case. I think Charles was also in that show. My oldest friend from High School Scott Bristol was along for the ride - we took his BMW onto the Staten Island Ferry. He became part of the gang and could hold his own with his wonderfully fierce intellect and biting sarcasm.

-A camping trip to Woodstock, New York May 7/ 8, 1988. The first real warm day of that Spring that pointed toward Summer. I treasure it as I was with my closest friends - Scott , Charles & Kevin. We made camp at the base of Overlook Mountain, when you could actually do that. Our hike to the Old Mountain House Ruins seemed effortless despite the steep terrain and carting a full cooler of libation and ice - I can’t remember bringing any food with us and we probably didn't. It was a wild day with much laughter and depth. We came down the mountain at sunset which made it difficult to find our camp yet we did, making Gruel (as Kevin called it) for supper and after Charles moved his old cadillac at the State parking lot, driving around (for the fun of it) like a madman to the shock of some Tibetan Buddhists from Karma Triyana Dharmachakra across the street. Hiking back to camp I found a small animal skull that pulsed white in the darkness, now gone in one of many moves. I’d kept it (and drawn it) for years.

-The time we all went to the top of the now gone World Trade Center. I’m glad we did that, for it gave 911 an extra special meaning & depth for me,  driving home its loss. Allowing me to grieve deeper. A grief we all shared no doubt.

-Charles, Kevin and crew (including Slim Fats) came up to Woodstock for my first one man show at Te-Ma Gallery the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 1988. After the show and eats at the Woodstock Pub we hightailed it back to Dover, NJ to see Pinetop Perkins at The Showplace . We may even have gone back to Staten Island after that. Memory haze.

-Then there was Kevin and Charles’ show at Rabbet Gallery in New Brunswick, NJ - it was there I met Charles’ now wife- Liz for the first time and again we adjourned back to Charles' on Staten Island. It would be the last time I’d see Kevin. Audrey was also there - both she and Liz were extremely gracious and decent to me despite my outrageously rowdy behavior.

As The Great American Photographer Robert Frank often noted - Time Marches On.
Indeed it does. Threads are frayed & become broken, connections are lost & sometimes re-established, sometimes not, yet they are always handy in Memory’s sacred chamber. And in heart which is also mind.

Kevin made me laugh a lot and in some ways he, Charles, Scott and myself shared a private language consisting of strange routines and key terminology. It kept us in hysterics often late into the night and sometimes into the wee hours of the dawn - deconstructing Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous until it was nothing but the empty, late 80’s banality it truly was is just one example.

I love the photo Charles sent me with the news of his passing. No doubt taken by Audrey. We look like Rock Stars. We were. But I cannot remember what had caught our attention. The majesty of the Twin Towers perhaps, a cloud formation, a glint of light or an unknown colour?

My life was undoubtedly enriched by Kevin's presence. As I am sure all were. We are left with his substantial body of artworks to console us in our grief which will, in due time, allow us to get back to our life's celebration and, in turn, the celebration of Kevin's life and legacy. I am grateful for having made his acquaintance.

Kevin, Charles, myself - Staten Island Ferry

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful tribute to a dear friend & tremendous artist! I am in awe of you all!