A&M International University Art Professor in SA Gallery Show

Texas A&M International University's first faculty member in fine arts, Assistant Professor of Art History/Fine Arts Kenney Mencher, is featured in a San Antonio gallery show.

Mencher, along with artists Ron Hoover and Katie Pell, will be exhibited through November 29 at the Martin-Rathburn Gallery in the Blue Star Art complex in downtown San Antonio. The exhibit opened Oct. 25.

"It's really a tremendous honor for me," Mencher said, "I've only been here a short time and having this opportunity arise has been quite an experience."

The works that Mencher will exhibit reflect influences that have been central to his development as an artist, he said.

"The artists who I look at the most frequently and who I consider to be major influences on my work deal primarily with the human form. They are very concerned with the formal issues of chiaroscuro, color, and composition," he said.

He singled out the works of Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent and Rembrandt.

"Edward Hopper is the artist who I look at mainly for his depiction's of urban genre scenes and his portrayal of humanity in general. John Singer Sargent, and Rembrandt share some of Hopper's qualities, mainly in their portrayal of humanity, but Rembrandt is the artist who I look at mainly for mastery over paint quality and color," he explained.

Mencher said he tries to express an experience similar in some ways yet in opposition to that of artist Edward Hopper.

"Hopper was an observer of isolation in a calm or almost benign urban environment. Rembrandt is really the painter who I feel expresses the kind of ideas and feelings I am fascinated with. Rembrandt's paintings and drawings of the holy family and his own family tended to work on a small scale. This tends to create a feeling of intimacy, almost like a snapshot. For this reason, I keep the scale of my paintings very small as well," he explained.

Mencher also finds that his work is informed by cinema.

"Film, particularly film noir is a big influence on me. I feel that television and film are the way in which we are trained to be visually literate and so I quite often quote compositions I see in old films and television. I choose compositions that portray interactions. I feel that by reinterpreting a narrative scene in paint, divorced from its original chronology and narrative context, I am able to create a type of visual catalyst," he said.

Mencher said that he hopes his paintings will offer viewers a visual point of departure from which they can explore themselves and others.

"I hope that people who look at my paintings use my paintings as a point of departure for creating a new and personal narrative. In doing so I hope that they find that they exploring their conception of relationships and how they impact us," he said.

Mencher is developing the University's Fine Arts program which will enable A&M International to offer minors in both Art History and Studio Art in the future. A Fine Arts complex will be coming to the University in January and will provide additional space for courses in European Art, Non-Western Art, Mexican Art, Printmaking and Sculpture.

This upcoming Spring semester, Mencher will be offering a beginning painting and drawing as well as two introductory courses in the history of art.

Prior to joining the University, he was Curator of Visual Resources for the University of Chicago. He has also served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Chicago and as a graduate assistant at the University of Cincinnati and University of California, Davis.

Undergraduate and graduate awards he has received include the Geldwerth Scholarship, the Jacob Hammer Memorial Award and the Raymond J. SontagPrize.

Galleries he has been represented at include the Mary Ryan Gallery, the Mason Fine Art Gallery, Zephyr Gallery and Vertu Gallery and John Natsoulas Gallery.

Recent solo exhibitions have included the Brody Gallery, Garden Gallery and Aardvark Framing and Gallery.

Recent Group exhibits he has been a part of have been hung at the Tangeman Center Gallery, Mason Fine Art Gallery, KZF Gallery, Zephyr Gallery, and the Semantics Gallery.

His works can be found in the collections of Ray Keck, Terrance Frasier, Founder's Title and Trust, Dr. Dianne Macleod, Norma Turner, Daniel Brown and Isaac Barchus.

For additional information, please contact Mencher at 326 - 2591. An electronic offering of Mencher's work, including some of those that will be part of the San Antonio showing, can be accessed at http://www.tamiu.edu/~kmencher/

A&M International's office hours are from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday- Friday.