Art Kendallman was an artist. He was a husband, a father, a brother and a friend but he was an artist above all. He was the very definition of an artist.
I first knew him many years ago as Jorge Bartlett. I liked the paintings he made, his sense of humor, his edgy persona, his restless character. He was evolving but art was already his life.
I always enjoyed meeting him, talking, laughing, having coffee, joking about the state of the world, the difficulty in making an impact in the established arena, breaking through the well-defined walls of the art world.
He was a natural performer, agile and creative. His million dollar smile didn’t always show up when he was in character but it was there, behind the surface of his performance. In character, he was in his element, serious but comical in his determination and courage, in his public show.
I loved to crack him up, to make him laugh hard and see that smile bust out in megawatts. And he cracked me up too. With me he was a pleasure to be around. When he created Monkey Joe, his Mojo character, I went with him to film his exploits downtown in the Metro Center and on the People Mover. That day was one of the most fantastic and fun days I’ve ever had. Just to see his incredible and brave performance, to see him remain in character – despite the ridicule and misunderstanding – was a joy to me. He was a pure artist practicing his art no matter how it was received. He had integrity and he had my admiration and friendship. At some point, maybe on that same day, I realized I loved the guy. I loved the artist and I loved the man himself.
Mojo retired soon after, went missing, took off for parts unknown. Art Kendallman took over the show, his art becoming more defined in its creation of a mission, his own military invasion and conquest of Puerto Rico. It was conceptual, it was a virtual world amazing in its wholeness.
Look at the details, look at the precision and craftsmanship in the work. Look at the beauty and the humor. Look at all the pieces created, the body of work. This is where you will find Kman, there and in our hearts. I don’t blame him for taking off. But I miss him and I still love him.
July 4th, 2008