Don McKinney exhibits abstract paintings from 30-year career

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Kyara Kalb

The Artist’s Reception entitled, “3 Transitions – Work Overtime: Paintings by Don McKinney” was held Friday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. inside the Saddleback Art Gallery.

McKinney, who is a West Coast native and a Vietnam War veteran, was present in the gallery to share his art.

Friends, family, patrons, and art lovers were in attendance to fill the art gallery.  A jazz quartet provided musical entertainment to serenade the attentive observers.

The pieces displayed ranged from a period of over 30 years, starting in the 70s when McKinney admitted he was “…a lot more angry” as opposed to his more current works, such as his piece “Thinking of Giorgio,” a large scale painting influenced by surrealist artist Giorgio de Chirico.

McKinney’s explosions of color leapt from the canvas. The abstract movement of the lines and shapes channel and reveal the type of events and emotions McKinney had endured when facing traps in the jungles of Vietnam; the direct inspiration behind “Another Snare in the Jungle.”

McKinney said this show is a “…tamer interpretation [of my art], a lot of [pieces] are fond memories, a lot of color and false senses of reality and things like that, ” explaining that his pieces are “not really a statement about the Vietnam War one way or the other,” simply his thoughts and memories of both it and his life overall.

Mr. McKinney meet and greeted his fans, and interpreted his large scale abstract painting “Another Snare in the Jungle,” explaining that it is from his series titled “Memories From Vision Purple.”

“It’s about the adjustment of your retina when you go into a dark space” McKinney said. “…your eye adjusts and things don’t appear real, you don’t quite see reality; and these memories from ‘Vision Purple’ are from when I was in the [Vietnam] War. These go back from drawings I did 20 or 30 years ago, automatic drawings from that time, they are about those thoughts and emotions. [They] all have impacted me.”

Dean of Fine Arts and Media Technology Bart McHenry visited the gallery and expressed his enjoyment of the exhibition.

“It’s very exciting to see Don McKinney’s work because he brought in not just his recent work, but work that transitions through his life,” McHenry said. “You can see his thought process and the changes that he’s made over time, which makes it a very exciting show.”

Chair of the Art Department Veronica Obermeyer commented on the sequential direction of McKinney’s pieces.

“As a show it is quite interesting to see how over the years he has kept a lot of similarity but he’s also changed and evolved…[the] students and general public are so enthusiastic and excited and are telling me about their favorite pieces; so that’s pretty cool,” Obermeyer said.

Don McKinney’s exhibition will be shown through Sept. 13, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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