Artborne Magazine July 2016 - Page 34

Out of Towner Kev Von Holt by Matt Duke In I felt the need to skip town. I wanted to explore, get lost, hangout. I found myself in Philadelphia, PA, a city I knew very little about. Aside from the phone number of a pretty girl, I didn’t have much of a reason to choose Philly. It just happened. I quickly became an explorer and walked the grid daily. I wanted to find and see everything this new place had to offer. I don’t remember the first time I met Kev Von Holt, but I do remember the first time I saw his art. It was hanging in a windowless salon that was tucked back in some historic building off Arch St. in Center City, Philadelphia. At the time, Kev was experimenting with acrylic and gravity. He created these colorful abstracts with organic long lines that flowed from one edge to the other. All of his paintings were on odd sized pieces of wood that he found over here and ripped off from over there. I thought, this is inspiring, this city is inspiring. So I decided to learn more. Since the introduction of Mural Arts in Philadelphia (which was originally an anti-graffiti movement) the city, with major help of Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden, has been able to develop its own unique image and artistic community. Mural Arts found and dedicated walls throughout the city to be painted by graffiti artists. What this did, was to create a shift in how street art was perceived, and how the participants of the program viewed themselves and their relationship to their community. They found support. However, it didn’t happen overnight. Golden had to slowly win the Fall Grids, acrylic on canvas respect of the tagging community, establish continual funding, and hone the creativity of what is primarily underprivileged kids in crime-ridden neighborhoods. It took time, but after decades of innovation and fighting for this cause, Golden has created the largest public arts program in the country. I asked Von Holt to comment on this: “Public arts in Philadelphia was a huge influence on my career, there was a movement that was happening all around me - the texture and dimension of the street art and graffiti. The murals in Philadelphia are awe-inspiring, and so were the vast array of galleries that were popping up and hosting First Friday shows. What they did right was they made Radar Love, acrylic on canvas it possible for independent artists to show their works to the city, its visitors, and residents. My art is very influenced by the city’s architecture. My cityscape paintings reflect that.” Some of Von Holt’s cityscape paintings are featured here. I’ve since moved back to Orlando and once again walk the streets of my hometown. Von Holt has opened his own gallery in the small town of Flemington, NJ an hour north of Philadelphia. Today, years later, we are still buzzing from the work of Golden and Mural Arts, and how it has inspired us. Von Holt is still making art, a lot of it. This guy is prolific. “I am trying to 33