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Kevin Sloan - Accomplished artist and so much more!

Artist Kevin Sloan

When looking at a painting have you ever wondered how the artist came up with that idea? Or if it happens to be a whimsical painting, how in the world did the artist even think of that  subject matter? Kevin Sloan, with his dramatic intricate paintings that depict symbolic usage of natural surrounding, is one such artist that in addition to appreciating the quality of his paintings you may scratch your head thinking “what is he trying to tell us”?

Sloan is a first class artist who has been often referred to as magical and painting with allegorical realism. Sloan’s work ventures to momentarily liberate us from our modern technological environment into a realm of mysticism, the poetic and beautiful. But there is so much more to his thought process and symbolism used in his paintings than you might think. 

Kevin Sloan with his painting 'The Conversation'

Sloan received his MFA from the University of Arizona and currently resides in Denver working in a converted church in the historic Denver neighborhood of Globeville. Here he not only creates his unique and exquisite artwork but he grows flowers and vegetables during the summer months, (so no, he is not painting 24/7). He also shares his creative life with his husband and two Labradoodles, Poppy and Otis. 

Gardner Colby’s history with Kevin Sloan started years ago on Martha’s Vineyard. We were fortunate to be put in contact with Kevin way back in 1998! Since then we have had a long standing gallery relationship with him having had numerous one man exhibits and selling many of his pieces of artwork. We are proud to still be representing him in Naples Florida today.

(from left to right) Nancy Winch, Kevin Sloan, and Pamela Campe.

Through the years, with Sloan’s  love of travel, he found himself at various times calling San Francisco, New Your City, New Orleans, Key West and Santa Fe, home. Each of these locations had a lasting impact on his work. Every new home found a new narrative where he discovered a voice in his work. Many years he painted open-endedly but started to add more specific concrete images to his work. His landscapes and interiors became more literal. He found this period to be an exciting time of self teaching, with trial and error. 

The time spent in San Francisco was tumultuous for Sloan. The Gulf War was starting, AIDS was rampant and a major earthquake hit the area. He felt his work reflected the upheaval of the time. But he eventually found that if he painted clean and orderly it helped him to find certainty and balance, prompting him to make sense and feel stable in the world. 

Sloan described his work as “an inquiry into whether a painting can hold the qualities of wonder and awe amid the mundane and overlooked”. And more profoundly he states that he is “interested in what it means to be a painter of the natural world in a time of such extraordinary change environmentally, politically and socially”.

In reading Sloan’s journal notes on “Precision” you may discover a more profound meaning to his majestic paintings and a clear and deeper understanding of the messages he is presenting to his audience. Not only is he an exceptional painter but a caring and compassionate person. 

At one point Sloan became dissatisfied with his work and needed more. This was when he started to address his growing concerns with the natural environment, which prompted him to develop what he calls “allegorical realism”. He wanted his paintings to help point out the challenges he saw facing the natural world. His art was a way he could reflect his concern with what was happening to his “beloved natural world”. He would subtly slip in a message about threat, in balance, and loss. For him this approach worked better than hitting someone over the head with a blunt environmental point of view. 

As the climate crisis escalated so did Sloan’s awareness of what is and is not happening in response to climate change and resource depletion. He began to wonder if it was enough for him to create what he calls his “soft edged fairytales which sort of point to the issues”. He began to ask himself if is it realistic for his deep concern of climate issues to be presented in a quiet precise painting. He knew he didn’t want to create artwork with despair and fright but didn’t know if there was a happy medium. Sloan set out to find that middle way while still staying true to his main beliefs and concerns, not only as a painter but as a citizen too. 

Kevin Sloan has a very expansive series of elephant paintings - loved by many around the world

You may not realize when Sloan paints images like fragile tea cups, an elephant balancing on a tightrope, or a bird holding a pocket watch, that he is indirectly pointing to an issue with clever symbolism. But the conundrum for Sloan arrises when he wonders if the high degree of precision in his paintings are rendered insincere. He questions if he is using precision in his paintings to create a soft edge which could be a buffer between what he knows is true in the world and what he would “rather” it be. He did find that by working in his style and subject matter- one painting at at time, he could feel a bit better and maybe his audience would too.

Sloan says that he continues to look for the middle way of being true to his values and beliefs as a citizen while honoring his his credence as a painter. Thank you Kevin Sloan for your commitment to this world as an exceptional painter and citizen! 

'The Collectors' by Kevin Sloan, available at Gardner Colby Gallery

Gardner Colby Gallery is a fine art gallery located in the Third Street Shopping District of downtown Naples, Florida. Representing contemporary American artists with styles ranging from abstract, to transitional, to realism. To name just a few artists of note; Anna Kincaide, John Schuyler, Kevin Sloan, Theresa Girard, Frank Corso, Kim English, and Aaron Westerberg.