Syracuse artist Kevin Lucas steps back into art community

Syracuse's Kevin Lucas embraces artist community

Lucas is focusing on art full-time and planning a new series.
Published: March 8, 2022 | Updated: March 9th, 2022 at 11:01 pm
A painting by Syracuse artist Kevin Lucas
Kevin Lucas' painting "Avocado Salad" is done in acrylics, archival tissue and ink.

From the painting-crowded room of his basement studio, Kevin Lucas detailed the inspiration and process behind his new business, explaining how selling art online has become a way to reconnect with communities of artists. His new website launched last month, on Feb. 10.

What began as a gallery brokering other artists’ work from his own home in Skaneateles led to art openings followed by late-night parties with friends, new and old, on the deck of Lucas’ sail boat. He says these nights provided fond memories that connected him with the local artist community, one Lucas is now excited to rejoin.

Despite working for the past 38 years as a digital analyst and artist, it was not until late 2021 that Lucas left his career as director of information technologies and innovation at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology to work on curating his own full-time selection. His website has been in the works for months.

“The online gig was not the goal. The end goal was I really wanted to get back into the community of artists, collectors, brokers, galleries,” Lucas said. “A lot of artists are just another breed, and they’re exceptional. I like to surround myself with them when I can.”

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Lucas works in multiple mediums, including photography, painting and sculpture.

His son, Mitch, saw this family-like bond of artists while growing up. He said waking up and walking through their in-home art gallery was his family’s version of normal.

“You’d go over to a friend’s house, except you’d come over and we’ve got a front patio outside, interesting furniture, music playing,” Mitch said. “And then inside the gallery, we would all still kind of hang out in there.”

It was with his family — his wife, son, daughter-in-law and dog — that Lucas sat when his phone began blowing up with messages from Facebook one evening. While most people were searching for inspiration during the height of quarantine, Lucas had people that were reaching out to buy his paintings on Facebook Marketplace. Within two weeks, Lucas had sold every painting he posted.

While the Facebook Marketplace reception was unexpected, Mitch said his father’s resulting transition back to art was no surprise to their family.

“[Lucas’ art] is the constant undercurrent of anything, anywhere,” Mitch said. “Anytime I’ve lived with my parents or I’ve visited them, it’s a constant presence of aesthetics and comfort both together.”

From sculpture to photography to painting, Lucas has explored many different mediums of art. Lucas places an emphasis on reducing the waste stream by up-cycling for his work. Facebook Marketplace, the same platform from which his paintings originally took off, has provided him with an outlet and with inspiration for his creativity. Lucas recently renovated old 80’s-style metal lamps into a memorial to the 80’s, a vision he said came naturally.

“I do a lot of up-cycling, I do a lot of recycling, I do a lot of work on pieces that have merit,” Lucas said “But they’re ugly, right? So I transform them into some new idea.”

Some of his best work happens when he lets his subconscious imagination run wild. From painting with a swinging pendulum to turning off the “front” part of his brain and creating art based on feeling, Lucas has truly adapted this style as his own. While Lucas finds satisfaction in this style, he acknowledged that the process is entirely personal.

“I love seeing other people looking at my art and explaining to me what they’re seeing or what they’re getting out of it. I just love that. Because that’s their subconscious purge,” Lucas said.

With a plan for a new series launch in the coming month, Lucas is diving into this concept of individuality. He said this series will incorporate more geometry and less free-form, but that it will still use his splashy painting style. While experimenting with new compositions, he says he will never completely conform to the rules of composition. When looking at his idols in art, Lucas asks which rules they followed and which rules they broke.

“First, you need to know what the rules are. But then you need to know how to break them,” he said.