It is rare that an opportunity arises to pluck me out of the national dysfunction and madness I find myself currently engulfed in here in the United States and transported to a more tranquil Mediterranean setting. When Park West Gallery hosted a private sea adventure showcasing the works of world renowned artist Linda Le Kinff, we had to jump on the offer. PWG is headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, and hosts four acres of sculptures and 63,000 square feet of gallery space in 23 exhibition halls.
Le Kinff is the favorite artist of my wife and grand-daughter. Perhaps it is her wildly colorful style or the exaggerated use of glowing women and hidden cats or maybe it has something to do with the tranquility of her work that connects with the “common man” — certainly an artist of the people. If one were to examine the numerous reviews of Le Kinff, two words keep popping up no matter the critic: ” bold” and “vibrant.”
Although Linda’s mother was from Brazil, Le Kinff was born in Paris, 1949, as her father was French. She began her art studies in earnest during the 1960s in the tradition of the “School of Paris” which included the techniques and styles of Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, Marie Lourencin, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Andre Derain, Maurice Utrillo. This process of formal and self education took her to, among other destinations, Italy, where she studied Renaissance and Baroque Period masters, as well as ancient and contemporaries in India, Tibet, Mexico, Morocco, Japan.
As she gained world exposure, her works began to be displayed throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, North America, Asia, and North Africa. With this global recognition, she began to expand her range as an artist through not only paintings but frescoes, drawings, sketches, lithography, water colors, wood carving, sculptures, and etchings. She mastered and achieved full expression of all artistic technology- a feat not easily accomplished even by the most skillful or talented of artists.
In 1992 Park West Gallery began to officially represent Le Kinff. In 1998 Linda became the official artist of the World Cup, hosted and won by France. The French government minted a soccer coin utilizing her art work, the first such honor for a living artist.
In 2010 Linda was asked to become the official artist of the Kentucky Derby. Weeks before this 136th “Run for the Roses,” Linda’s art exhibits portrayed the #4 horse to be the winner. In fact after the running of this Churchill Downs classic, the winning horse was #4, Super Saver with jockey Calvin Borel. Linda had now established a reputation as somewhat of a good luck charm.
We flew to Rome and met Linda a stones throw from the Vatican where we were transported to a ship Park West Gallery had reserved for us. During the peaceful sail to Greece, Linda was exclusively in our company from morning through dinner. We were impressed by how “ordinary” she was when relating to all PWG guests, which were assembled from all geographic locations from all walks of life. When asked why she painted so many women, without the use of live models, she simply replied, “Because I am a woman.” When asked why so many of her women looked to the left, she comically replied, “Perhaps I should talk to my psychologist?” She explained that the colors she used were “personal, vibrant, dense” incorporating “dynamic forces of the mind.”
It was natural for us to expand our Le Kinff collection; we were astonished to find such as celebrated figure as Linda to be so humble, reserved, and readily available to so many people. Jordan Sitter (PWG) and his staff did a tremendous job with exposing and educating us on the life and works of Le Kinff in an environment that was secluded, quiet, as well as elegant. In essence it were as if we, the guests, were the honorees and the real artist was the “entertainment.”
Park West Gallery, Le Kinff’s exclusive agent, was established more than 40 years ago by Albert Scaglione, who prior to this was actually a rocket scientist working for NASA and a university professor teaching mechanical engineering at Wayne State University in Detroit. Park West Gallery Foundation provides foster care grants for the region, family counseling, teen parent services, residential placement and adoption services. Park West Gallery serves as an art educational resource for the Detroit area and is known as “the art gallery for the common man” even though, according to Wikipedia, PWG has annual sales of between $300 & $400 million.
It is rare to find a socially engaged institution as PWG that also serves as an educational vehicle, community philanthropic organization, and offers quality art work to average working people who have an eye for value.
Monday, 20 May 2013