Blown away by the blues

Commissioned Blues Fest painting

Commissioned Blues Fest painting

May 20, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

Artist Kevin Holder says he paints a lot of jazz pieces.

"The attitude of the musicians emanates when they play," he says.

Holder, 39, also has painted a blues piece. "Blues Infusion," an oil painting, was commissioned for the 7th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest. [See story on page E1.]

"I had a lot of fun painting the piece," he says.

Part of the mission of the blues fest is to include the local arts community, says Barbara Spicher, executive director of the Washington County Arts Council.

"We needed artwork to draw attention to the festival. What better way than to include work by a regional artist?" she asks.


Spicher turned to Eileen Berger, owner of Just Lookin' Gallery in downtown Hagerstown. Berger, who represents several artists, specializes in living black artists. She's been representing Holder "forever." The work of the artist, who lives in Columbia, Md., is widely collected in Washington, D.C., and the West Indies, Berger says.

"It's very well painted. It's good work," says Eileen Berger of "Blues Infusion." "I knew he would be a good fit."

The painting and other works by Holder will be on display at the Washington County Arts Council Gallery. The exhibit, titled "Reference Points: Rhythms, Harmonies, Ancestries," opens Friday, May 31 with an artist's reception at the gallery from 4 to 6 p.m.

The "Blues Infusion" image will be on festival T-shirts and posters, and Holder will sign posters at the gallery during the reception and again on Saturday, June 1, from 1 to 3 p.m.

He had art instruction in high school but there wasn't really a focus on art in his family, he says. "It's just something I picked up and pursued seriously," he says.

Holder applied to Howard University - sending slides of his artwork. He received a four-year scholarship and earned his bachelor of fine arts degree in painting. He also earned a master's of fine arts in printmaking and computer graphics from Howard.

Holder has had commissions to paint murals in the schools in the Virgin Islands. Some of those, measuring 20-by-30-feet, represented the history of the island.

Two paintings - an image of chess players in DuPont Circle, and a view of the Adams-Morgan neighborhood - were accepted by Washington, D.C., arts and humanities commission two years in a row.

Holder, who was born in Trinidad, teaches art at Laurel High School in Laurel, Md. With a full-time teaching job, Holder says it's difficult to find time to do art.

What does he teach his students?

"How to focus. How to see color. How to manipulate color to bring about the effect you want," he says.

He showed "Blues Infusion" to his students.

"You did that? I don't believe it," they told him

"They're blown away," he says with a laugh.

Meet artist

Kevin Holder

"Reference Points: Rhythms, Harmonies, Ancestries"

Opening reception Friday, May 31, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Washington County Arts Council Gallery

41 S. Potomac St.


Holder's "Blues Infusion" image is on 2002 festival T-shirts and posters, and the artist will sign posters during the reception and during the festival Saturday, June 1, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the arts council gallery.

Raffle tickets for a chance to win the original painting are available for $2 each or three for $5 as part of the fund-raising efforts for the festival. Tickets are available at the gallery.

The painting will be on display, and tickets also will be available during the blues festival. The drawing will be Sunday, June 2, at Hagerstown City Park. Ticket holders do not have to be present to win.

For information, call 301-791-3132.

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