Kearney comes home 

When he lived in Whistler, Hugh Kearney’s studio in Emerald Estates used to look out into the dense, green, unconstrained coastal rainforest. His present studio, in Brooklyn, looks out at the Manhattan skyline and the equally dense, constant, daily rush of humanity.

The move from a natural to an urban environment, which took place in June of 2000, is reflected in his paintings, particularly his recent emphasis on lines.

Kearney is returning to Whistler this week, seeking lines on the mountains and visiting old friends. He will also be featured in a one-day show Saturday, Dec. 21 between 5 and 7 p.m. at Art Junction@Function, where 30 recent works created in his Brooklyn studio will be on display.

The paintings were part of a recent "affordable art" exhibition in New York, but Art Junction@Function has represented Kearney in Whistler for several years.

Aside from the obvious environmental transition, from rainforest to urban jungle, New York’s status as the centre of the artistic world and a melting pot of ideas has provided inspiration and support for Kearney that simply wasn’t available in Whistler. The Brooklyn neighbourhood of old warehouses where Kearney’s studio is located, between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, is full of artists from all over the world.

Four years ago, while still in Whistler, he told Pique Newsmagazine: "I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve been ready to throw the towel in and leave for 50 per cent of the time. The other 50 per cent is that Whistler is a big part of my influences, the colours, light, imagery comes from living in Whistler. I will always, I’m sure, have a big connection to the area."

And in the same interview he talked about there not being a network of artists in Whistler.

"It’s tough as a contemporary artist not to be in an urban environment. That’s where they all tend to gather. Part of the reason I feel I can stay away from those circles is that my work is not urban influenced. I can work in the big vacuum of Whistler. I just go down to the city a lot and talk to people there... You need support as an artist. When you’re creating, you need feedback."

But two years ago, after moving from the big vacuum to the Big Apple, he said: "I feel really charged by New York, after 10 or 11 years in Whistler. It feels like I’m back in school, surrounded by other artists – it’s competitive and there’s lots of interaction with artists."

You can judge the New York influence for yourself Saturday at Art Junction@Function.

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