When creative minds meet to collaborate on projects, the results can be tremendous and beneficial to all.
The latest example of a positive outcome gleaned from two individuals will be on display at the Agro Centre in Huntsville this week.
Wills Hicks from Dare 2 B Different (D2BD) and JF Kuehnen of Malpractice Press fame are joining forces to stimulate art lovers’ senses with the upcoming show Concrete & Canvas.
Kuehnen has been an amazing revelation amongst the Huntsville art community with his abstract expressionist approach.
Inspired by the New York movement of the late ’40s, and using a mixed palette of vibrant colours, he has sold 53 paintings in his last two shows alone, and now this ever-evolving artist is at it again, this time using concrete as a medium from which to create. For more on Kuehnen, visit www.malpracticepress.com or check out these stories on the talented artist: http://www.huntsvilletoday.com/yart-sale-features-creative-brilliance/ or http://www.huntsvilletoday.com/passion-reigns-in-local-artists-creations/
Meanwhile, Hicks and his D2BD company are bringing unique items to the forefront with some amazing fabricated concrete products including table tops, kitchen counters, coasters and much more. For more on Hicks and Dare 2 B Different, visit http://dare2bdifferentmuskoka.ca/
Hicks and Kuehnen are collaborating not only on the art show but on many of the concrete pieces themselves.
Once Hicks has an item set, Kuehnen experiments by adding various dyes and different imagery to patio tables, drink coasters, and numerous other objects, giving each an identity of their own.
Hicks says while working with concrete is interesting, it’s not always easy using it as a medium due to the way it begins as a “soupy mix and ends up two-to-three times harder than your typical industrial floor in a factory.”
Hicks says the journey from wood working to concrete has been very interesting seeing as he’s somewhat of a “perfectionist.”
“Depending on what admixtures you put in and how much you use, amount of water, the temperature and what kind of molds you are using, you can create just about anything you can dream up,” says Hicks. “No mater how perfect concrete is, it is virtually always flawed in some way or another. Nothing is ever the same twice. You always end up with a unique piece, always hand crafted. Then you throw a guy like Jason into the mix and you end up with art from start to finish no matter how you look at it.”
“Will (Hicks) approached me with a venture and a few weeks later this show was conceived,” says Kuehnen. “As an artist, one must be continually moving forward, and after a few brief conversations with Will, I knew this was the next direction to head.”
After hosting successful art sales in November 2015 and this July at his home, which also contains his studio, Kuehnen is excited about the chance to offer his works to the public in a larger setting.
“I am still amazed by the enthusiasm for my two previous sales and the overwhelming support I have received from this community,” he says. “Hopefully Concrete & Canvas will continue this success.”
HICKS DARES 2 BE DIFFERENT
For those who don’t yet know, D2BD specializes in a large variety of concrete products including sinks and vanities, lamps and lighting products (found at Muskoka Lighting), signs and letters, fireplace surround and wood stove pads.
Hicks says they will soon be releasing a new line of outdoor products called “Muskoka Modern” featuring side tables, coffee tables, different styles of lounge chairs and much more. At least one of these items will be on display at the Concrete & Canvas art show.
Hicks has been working on a very interesting wood look, that is quite detailed and textured, plus he says they are willing to take on custom jobs for all types of items.
“We can incorporate so many different things within a project,” says Hicks. “In the past we have inlayed logos of business or products that they sell out of stainless steel, horseshoes at a farm, special rocks people have found, glass or mirror and even shells. We also do a lot of glow-in-the-dark stones and fill that are tonnes of fun . . . Just about any colour or shape you can dream up can be achieved. Plus we always love a challenge.”
Hicks’ career began with furniture and cabinetry in Calgary. He recalls many individuals saying to him “you are such an artist.”
“Which took me a while to wrap my head around,” says Hicks. “And even accept that maybe the things I have the privilege to create for people are indeed art. I have created so many different things for people from coast to coast. Dining room tables, book shelves, coffee tables, wine cellars, kitchens, entertainment units, fancy work benches, frames for mirrors and pictures.”
Hicks says the move home to Huntsville from Calgary came about after spending much time building decks with a hardwood called Kayu Batu. He figured that moving back to cottage country he could utilize his skills and would be busy building decks for years.
“But, apparently, there was another plan in store,” exclaims Hicks. “The decking slowed down and I picked up a few custom jobs from Kristine Brigden at North Muskoka House and that started the ball rolling for me in the shop again building more furniture and kitchens.”
What followed was an opportunity to do a project at the front desk in Town Hall. With concrete being the material of choice, Hicks sunk his teeth into learning as much as he could about concrete and four years later D2BD is seeing a growing demand for their unique work.
“Almost everything I have created has a little bit of my soul in it, I really want people to get what they are expecting and more,” says Hicks. “A lot of people used to come to me because of my eagerness to use different materials together. Mixing materials like wood, steel, glass, concrete and making everything jive with one another is so much fun. A lot of cabinet makers or furniture makers wont touch other materials, but I can’t get enough.”
Bringing Kuehnen into the mix was a natural fit when a slab of concrete set to be a counter top was deemed to have too many imperfections for a showroom, but it was still quite good and usable.
Hicks thought that a splash of Kuehnen’s colourful creativity could turn plain slabs of concrete into unique, artistic pieces perfect for a wide range of individual tastes and styles.
In the end, this is what Hicks enjoys the most about his work.
“The number one reason we do what we do is to see the smile on a client’s face when they see their piece being installed,” he says. “They get to see their ideas, time an effort picking colours, texture, materials and then finally the vision comes together in their home. Something they have been a part of from the beginning. We love working along side the client to make sure what they get is more than what they bargained for. Plus as an added bonus, sometimes we get cookies, hugs and even beer when we are done.”