I met artist Kent Maxwell during a studio visit at his incredibly inspiring space in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in February of this year. On that visit I picked up a few of his pieces knowing they would sell as soon as people saw them in person. Of course if was impossible at the time to know my gallery doors would be closed for months following that day, but I am happy to know I was right. As soon as we reopened, all four pieces found perfect forever homes right away. A few weeks ago, I invited Kent to the gallery and on a rainy Friday, much like today, he brightened up the shop with about a dozen new pieces I was thrilled he was able to see the happy space on Bellevue Avenue we know and love so much with his artwork all around.
ONE WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO NEWPORT?
I currently work and reside in Portsmouth, NH. I have family in Rhode Island and often stop in Newport on my trips. I love the feel of small seaside cities and the sense of home they conjure inside you.
TWO WHAT ARE THREE THINGS YOU CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT?
My sketchbook, slip-on Sanuks and earbuds.
THREE WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT THIS YEAR?
I was commissioned to build a huge maple floater frame over the summer. It was the largest piece I've ever attempted, about seven foot by four foot, and I really enjoyed the challenge of constructing such a large frame and working through the obstacles that popped up along the way.
FOUR TELL ME SOMETHING PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO HEAR ABOUT YOU?
I have a blind dog (canine apprentice) named Banksy.
FIVE WHAT IS IT THAT BRINGS YOU THE MOST INSPIRATION?
I love visiting the ocean and drawing inspiration from the salty air and rhythmic sound of crashing waves. Spending time there, mentally it has the kind of effect of a long exposure, imprints of landscapes that I take with me.
SIX WHAT IS Something positive that came out of Covid lockdown for you as a creative?
While it might sound obvious, lockdown has given me the ability to be in the studio a lot more. Typically, I travel up and down the East Coast for art exhibitions and festivals over several months of the year, and that can limit the amount of studio time I can put in. These days, I've been able to spend that time in the studio without feeling the pressure of having to make every minute count.
SEVEN WHAT'S THE PROJECT YOU ARE WORKING ON NOW THAT YOU ARE MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
I am currently working on a series of large scale paintings entitled “Dinosaurs”. They are mixed media paintings of icebergs aimed to capture their once enormous size and sense of wonder.
EIGHT WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO Do OR WHERE IS A PLACE YOU WANT TO VISIT Post Covid times?
I have always wanted to visit Reykjavik and journey around Iceland on the Ring Road.
NINE IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO PROMOTE?
I would like to promote the Great Bay Stewards—this non-profit organization is critical in protecting the Great Bay Estuary. The preservation of New Hampshire’s raw beauty and natural landscape is important to me and the Great Bay Stewards help educate the public and safeguard that beauty.
“Just keep painting.” The process of being an artist really is about putting in the work. I love the Thomas Edison quote about failure--finding 10,000 ways that a lightbulb doesn't work. I've spent countless hours in the studio only to feel that it hasn’t been productive, or that the artwork has taken steps backwards away from completion, but in truth I spent those hours figuring out how to not paint what I want, and that's how you get to where you want to be as an artist. It's a grind, a journey. Just keep painting.
Photos: Kent Maxwell