A Sun a Tree a Man

Kevin Larkin was only seven years old when he composed his first painting. Compositionally speaking, it was rudimentary: There was a sun, a tree, a man and nothing else. However, what wasn’t so simple was the effect that painting had on his art teacher. The educator was so moved by Larkin’s advanced abilities that she felt compelled to call in a janitor from the nearby hallway so he could witness what the young Larkin had conceived. It was from this seemingly insignificant moment that this boy built his career as a visual artist, which ultimately led to his position as president of the b.j. spoke gallery in Huntington. “It felt good to be recognized, even at an early age.”

Throughout his early academic career, Larkin dabbled in the arts. “I was the kid drawing funny pictures of his teachers or making the cartoons for the school newspapers.” These early experiments paved the way for his career in the arts and Larkin went on to study painting at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. “It’s there I saw the old masters, like da Vinci and Michelangelo, up to the modernists, like Pollock and Picasso. If you want to become an artist you need this exposition.”

Becoming a professional artist is not something that just happens, and Larkin is the first to admit this. He’s had to work various jobs to support his craft. “I’ve done every job to support this ‘habit’ of painting.” Over time, with training and an insatiable work ethic, Larkin cultivated his unique aesthetic, which combines found objects with abstractions, providing for a more sculptural approach than traditional canvas work. “I like art that takes chances.”
This same artistic credo has maneuvered its way into b.j. spoke gallery, where Larkin now oversees 28 professional artists, all of whom were selected by the gallery’s board and alternate showcasing their work on a monthly basis. It’s a member owned and run cooperative art gallery exhibiting many of the finest artists on Long Island. “Anyone can try to join. It’s selective, but we’re always looking for new artists.”

Elected last month by the gallery’s board members, Larkin, as their leader, is focused on bringing new material that pushes the vanguard of contemporary art. He’s incorporating monthly gallery openings, mixed media performances, poetry and play readings, and art contests throughout the year. “We’ve had some exciting shows, all free to the public, too. And the public has responded with packed houses almost every opening. We’re trying to put our best foot forward.”

And the gallery’s best efforts have been nothing less than substantial. This past year they’ve showcased a new exhibit every month. “We’ve had trumpet players collaborate with Haiku writers…all doing mind-blowing work.”
A sun, a tree, a man and now a leader—this once budding artist has grown up to become a fixture in the Long Island art community and he’s intent on inspiring others, just as he was so many years ago. “You give back. That’s what art is.”

At b.j. spoke gallery this month:

EXPO 31 Winners Show:
March 1-March 26
Juror Margot Norton, Associate
Curator of the New Museum selected 20 winners from across America to exhibit. Reception: Saturday,
March 3, from 6 – 9pm.

brian kelly

Brian Kelly is a journalist, writing instructor, songwriter, playwright and a mediocre cook. His own writing has appeared in Blackbook Magazine, MEDIA, Hamptons.com and The East Hampton Press. His off-Broadway play, Hello Superstar will open in 2012; it details the vibrant lives of Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick. His band Aeroplane Pageant will put out their 3rd LP Float Above the Yard on September 20th. He currently lives on the fading shoreline of Long Island where now he’s writing/directing a short film for Off-Hollywood and Technicolor Studios.