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Up In Your Business Home PageAbout Kerry McCoy

Little Rock Artist Kevin Kresse

9-1-2017

Listen to this week's podcast to find out:
  • How Kevin created the Levon Helm bust
  • What inspired Kevin to become an artist
  • Where Kevin still teaches his art
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Up in Your Business host Kerry McCoy interviewed Arkansas native, painter and sculptor Kevin Kresse, has exhibited his work around Arkansas, in New York, Washington DC, Memphis and Atlanta.

His work has been featured in articles in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Arkansas Times, the North Little Rock Times, the Little Rock Free Press, Active Years magazine and Soiree magazine. He has also been featured in pieces produced by the local affiliates of ABC, CBS and PBS television, as well as a short film by Garret Larkin.

"I've always loved the faces and the human figure," Kresse said. "I started drawing them as a youngster and the painting and sculpting just followed as a natural extension of the drawing for me. Also, my art heroes were figurative painters and sculptors."

Kresse has been awarded painting fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts – Mid-America Arts Alliance and the Arkansas Arts Council. He has also won several awards in the Arkansas Arts Center annual Delta competition.

Most recently, friends of Levon Helm asked Kresse to do a bust of the famous singer whose original home is in Arkansas. 

"I had a mutual friend who was helping with a promotional video for Levon and I had him get me a meeting with the group," Kresse said. "I then talked some reason and sense into them."

Kresse did some sketches of Helm, one holding drumsticks and a mandolin. On his third meeting with the group, it was settled that the bust would be of Helm singing. The art piece will be displayed in Marvell, Arkansas.

"I'd never done anything quite like it, but it does seem to capture the essence of Levon," Kresse said. 

The journey toward a career in art began with Kresse and his wife Bridget’s decision to pare down their lives financially. Both of the Kresses had “job-jobs,” as Bridget calls them. She was a financial planner, Kevin a newspaper art director. Work and money had been “all about accumulation.” The Kresses opted for a different road.

They gave their employers a year’s notice, lived cheaply, and saved money. Then they took a four-month trip to Europe. The trip to Europe was priceless. It laid the foundation for their marriage, they say. It gave them time to reflect — something Kevin points out is growing increasingly scarce for workaholic Americans — and it pointed the way toward their future. It was on that trip, Bridget says, that “Kevin decided to do his art."

They understood that a consequence of that “big turning point” was that they would have to “keep things scaled down.” They decided to live modestly and carefully in order to stay free to do the things they loved.

"I approach painting and sculpture in a very similar manner," Kresse said. "It starts with a blob of either paint or clay. I keep shaping and moving it until I start to feel the person start to come out. I believe this approach allows me to get a lot more life into the piece."

Kresse is now successful as an artist. His paintings and sculptures are highly regarded, and Bridget says that she’s content. The family learned that by conserving their money, they gained control of their time, which the couple values more.

"It's a kick knowing that my public work will still be there long after I'm gone," he said. "I never thought about that aspect too much until after my father died. It is also great hearing people interpret what they see in some of the work. It makes me realize that everyone sees art through their filter of life and that every interpretation is just as valid as the reason I did it."

Kresse’s art work can be found in the Hillcrest section of Little Rock at Gallery 26, 2611 Kavanaugh and on the web at kevinkresse.com.

Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com

 

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Behind The Scenes

 

EPISODE 51

 

[INTRODUCTION]

 

[0:00:03.2] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.

 

Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.

 

[INTERVIEW]

 

[0:00:17.8] KM: I’m Kerry McCoy and it’s time for me to get up in your business. For the next hour my guest, successful artist and sculptor, Kevin Kresse and I, will be getting up in the business of making art and money.

 

About 30 years ago Kevin and his wife, Bridget, made a decision to quit, and I’m going to quote Bridget here, “Their job jobs and opt for a different road, a road full of passion and experiences without the accumulation of stuff.”

 

We hope through our storytelling of how we maneuvered the path of entrepreneurship in pursuit of our dreams, that you will learn something, want to get involved, or be inspired to take action in your own life, and we’ll be answering questions via phone and e-mail.

 

For me, it began over 40 years ago when I founded Arkansas Flag & Banner. During the last four decades, Arkansas Flag & Banner has grown and morphed from door-to-door sales, to telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales and now relies heavily on the internet. Each change in sales strategy required a change in company thinking and procedures. My confidence, leadership, knowledge and my company grew. My initial $400 investment now produces nearly four million in annual sales.

 

Each week on the show you’ll hear candid conversations between me and my guest about real world experience on a variety of businesses and topics that I hope you’ll find interesting. Starting and running a business or an organization is like so many things. It takes persistence, perseverance and patience. I worked part-time job for nine years before Arkansas Flag & Banner grew enough to support just me, and I worked with you, Kevin, during those nine years. You were the bus boy and I was the waitress at Sir Loin’s Inn. It’s now grown much that to operate efficiently we require 10 departments and 25 people to maintain them. Thus, reminding us all again that small businesses are not only the fuel of our economic engine, but also impact and empower people’s lives.

 

Before we start I want to introduce to the people at the table, we have my technician Tim, who’ll be running the board and taking your calls. Say hello, Tim.

 

[0:02:17.6] TB: Hello, Tim.

 

[0:02:19.9] KM: My guest is renowned artist and sculptor, Kevin Kresse, who’s recently been in the news for his commissioned bust of the famous singer, Levon Helm, and who last year was in the news for his commissioned 7-foot-tall, 1,300 pound bronze statue of the famed U.S. Army ranger and war hero, General William O. Darby from Fort Smith, Arkansas.

 

Kevin’s work has been featured in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the Arkansas Times, the North Little Rock Times, the Little Rock Free Press, Active Years Magazine, Soiree Magazine just to name a few. He’s also been featured in pieces produced by the local affiliates of ABC, CBS and PBS Television as well as a short film by Garret Larkin.

 

[0:03:03.7] KK: Larkin.

 

[0:03:03.9] KM: Larkin. Is that how you say it?

 

[0:03:05.0] KK: Yeah.

 

[0:03:05.9] KM: Kresse has been awarded Painting Fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, Mid-America Arts Alliance and Arkansas Arts Council. He has also been the winner of several awards from the Arkansas Art Centers Annual Delta Competition.

 

It is a pleasure to welcome to the table my friend, the talented and successful artist extraordinaire, Kevin Kresse.

 

[0:03:27.5] KK: Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m actually sick of myself now after that introduction. I don’t know if you want to hear from the guy.

 

[0:03:37.8] KM: Somebody made a film about you?

 

[0:03:40.2] KK: Garret was ago do buddy. He went to MIU Film School and ended up down here. He did a little thing.

 

[0:03:49.6] KM: Where is it? In your library at home?

 

[0:03:52.9] KK: So many of my stories — Garret was a wonderful guy, but unfortunately he passed away in ’03. I saw the film and everything and I think Waymac has the copy.

 

[0:04:09.0] KM: Really?

 

[0:04:09.2] KK: Yeah.

 

[0:04:10.5] KM: That’s neat.

 

[0:04:10.6] KK: I know. I need to get it.

 

[0:04:13.2] KM: At what age did you find out you had this gift for art, because you really have the gift for art.

 

[0:04:17.3] KK: Oh! It’s just one of those things I did, but what’s interesting was when I went through, obviously, with 10 brothers and sisters, then we went through the parochial school. Having graduated from Catholic high —

 

[0:04:30.4] KM: You need to stop right there and tell everybody that you’re a Catholic and you have 10 brothers and sisters. Okay, pick back up.

 

[0:04:34.5] KK: There we go. I didn’t really have any art classes until I got to college. Really, I had no idea if I was any good or not. I had nothing to compare myself to.

 

[0:04:46.3] KM: You said right before we came on, and I’ve known you since you were 14.

 

[0:04:50.7] KK: When I bussing tables at Sir Loin’s.

 

[0:04:52.7] KM: I must have been 21. You were drawing then. I remember back then —

 

[0:04:57.2] KK: Yeah, but I was drawing on the back of the pay stubs, doing caricatures of everybody —

 

[0:05:04.3] KM: But we were keeping them.

 

[0:05:05.8] KK: Yeah, I know. I think some people still have black mail material on me from those days.

 

[0:05:12.0] KM: Can you not create? Could you ever just go, “I’m not going to do this anymore,” or is it just like an obsession you have to do to draw and create — I don’t ever see you doodle actually, but you have to just create all the time.

 

[0:05:23.0] KK: No. Everybody has that in them.

 

[0:05:26.3] KM: No. I don’t.

 

[0:05:26.6] KK: I do. I think maybe it gets taught out of us in school or something, but if we let it. I think everybody has a need to do something, whether it’d be garden or music. I think everybody has something in them. It’s just about getting it to come out.

 

[0:05:47.7] KM: You and your wife, tell the story. You made a deliberate decision, as Bridget says, to quit your job jobs and stop the vicious circle of working for money and accumulation.

 

[0:05:59.1] KK: Yeah. In college, there was zero was ever said about how to make a living as an artist. Really, the only two options I ever saw were you become an art teacher and teach other people how to not to make a living in art, or you would go into advertising. Those were the only two options that I remember thinking about.

 

I went into advertising, and at that point the democrat had brought everything from ad agencies in-house, and so I was hired by — I still do. He had just been hired. We just started kind of started from scratch doing this. 

 

[0:06:49.7] KM: Doing what?

 

[0:06:50.3] KK: Doing all the advertising for the paper. At 23 I was doing TV commercials and billboards and Pops on the River posters and writing radio spots and a lot of stuff I had no business doing, because I didn’t know what I was doing.

 

It was great. It fast-forwarded my life to see what I would be doing in advertising at 40 or so when you would become an art director. I did that for few years, and then Bridget was doing stocks and securities with her mom, which just kind of cracks me up to think about now.

 

Yeah. Anyway, it was great, because we both kind of got, like I said, fast-forwarded to seeing what grown-ups would be doing and it just wasn’t doing it for us.

 

[0:07:39.3] KM: How did the conversation come about? We’re going to quit our jobs and we’re going to become artists, because isn’t Bridget an artist also?

 

[0:07:45.2] KK: No. She’s has a wonderful eye and she’s a good photographer and she has got great taste. Like spinal tap, she’s brutally frank with me about what I do, which is great. You need someone that says, “Oh, I want this, I want that.” She definitely does that part for me.

 

Yeah. It was just one of those things — I don’t think it quite clocks you over the head. It’s sort of a gradual thing and then I remember walking in [inaudible 0:08:15.7] office and giving him a one year notice.

 

[0:08:19.3] KM: One year?

 

[0:08:19.9] KK: Yeah, because I need the money to save up.

 

[0:08:23.3] KM: For what?

 

[0:08:23.8] KK: We backpacked around Europe for about three and a half months.

 

[0:08:26.7] KM: That’s what you do when you quit your jobs?

 

[0:08:28.1] KK: Yes. I’ve said before, but it took me about two weeks, and this is the thing I noticed about the American system of getting — First, you had to work for a year before you even got vacation. Then the next year you would get a week. I noticed on that three and a half month trip, it took me about two weeks to stop the phantom paints, “Oh! Did I take care of this at work? Did I tell the guy who took my place this?” Those things that just fire off occasionally, until that finally kind of died off.

 

Then, I also realized before that, I had been sort of identifying who I was by what was written on my business card. When I would meet people I was — Like I said, there I was in my mid-20s. It’s like, “Hi. I’m Kevin Kresse. I’m an art director.” Deeper voice.

 

Backpacking around was great, because then it just everything — It was like being dead and looking back at your life with this great objectivity, and then I was — Then, I did have a clock on the head, because everything had been set in place. I remember definitely, we were in Florence and overlooking in Italy and overlooking the Duomo and then I was like, “I do not want to go back to that job,” or any job in advertising. I want to be an artist.

 

[0:09:52.2] KM: You hadn’t quit your job yet?

 

[0:09:53.3] KK: No. I had quit, but I also — One of the subliminal things I realized later was that I didn’t use any of the facilities at the paper to put together a portfolio to go look for a job when I got home.

 

[0:10:06.7] KM: Oh, it was subliminal. You and Bridget said, “Let’s just go back and have a very minimal life and start trying to make a living as an artist.”

 

[0:10:17.2] KK: Yeah. It was interesting. I remember the first day too getting a canvas and looking at it and going, “Whoa! What do I do?” Because before it was like, “Okay. We need you to come up with something. Here are your parameters and create something.”

 

[0:10:30.7] KM: That was the Arkansas Democrat.

 

[0:10:31.5] KK: Yeah. Anything in advertising, “Here are your parameters. This is what we need something on. Now, go create.” Then all of a sudden here was a blank canvas and it was like, “Who are you? What do you want to talk about on this canvas and what do you want to —”

 

[0:10:43.5] KM: What was the first thing you painted? Do you remember?

 

[0:10:48.1] KK: I think it was something about the trip. I did a bunch of work kind of reflecting on the trip and what that was like and —

 

[0:10:58.3] KM: Architectural work, like of the buildings?

 

[0:11:00.8] KK: No. No. No. Internal stuff, sort of like visual diaries of this change that was going on between —

 

[0:11:07.6] KM: What does that mean?

 

[0:11:08.8] KK: It means — Okay. For example, I did one painting called Leap of Faith and it was sort of a self-portrait, but it was disjointed. On one canvas, a small canvas, I had painted my face, sort of this grimy thing. Then you see the back of me sort of falling in space. Then another canvas, there’s maybe just a focus on the foot. It’s a disjointed self-portrait.

 

Then you see the buildings sort of being ripped in half in the background and I’m sort of floating up. It’s just this —

 

[0:11:41.6] KM: Was it cathartic doing all of that?

 

[0:11:42.1] KK: Oh, yeah. You bet.

 

[0:11:44.4] KM: Who bought your first painting? You better remember this. Send them a Christmas card every year.

 

[0:11:53.1] KK: See, it’s funny because I start going — Well, especially with a big family, I think you get all the help from —

 

[0:12:00.6] KM: Your brother — Your mother bought your first painting.

 

[0:12:01.7] KK: That I was sitting here and hesitating because I was trying to think, “Who was the first one who didn’t count as, “Oh poor Kevin. He’s trying to make it as an artist, we need to buy something from him.” It will hit me. I’m blanking now, but it was — well Charlotte, in college, gave me my first show at her — [inaudible 0:12:22.5].

 

[0:12:23.4] KM: I hope she’s listening.

 

[0:12:27.0] KK: I just thought of that. When I was in college, he put up paintings in her shop. Then I had my first show after I did that, my good friend, Willy Allen, Willy and Sally Allen opened their home for me. My mom and sisters did all the food and we made up the invitations.

 

[0:12:48.6] KM: Where was that show?

 

[0:12:49.1] KK: In their home up on Edgewood.

 

[0:12:52.2] KM: In Little Rock?

 

[0:12:53.4] KK: In Little Rock. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

 

[0:12:56.3] KM: Do you sell much?

 

[0:12:56.9] KK: No. Sold nothing. Then I had my first show at the Baker Gallery, which was then Chroma Gallery.

 

[0:13:06.4] KM: Yeah, in Hillcrest.

 

[0:13:07.2] KK: Yeah.

 

[0:13:09.1] KM: Chroma Gallery — No, that’s in Heights.

 

[0:13:10.8] KK: That’s in Heights.

 

[0:13:14.4] KM: Did you sell anything?

 

[0:13:15.1] KK: No.

 

[0:13:16.0] KM: God! All right. Just keep going.

 

[0:13:19.0] KK: Then I had a show —

 

[0:13:20.3] KM: Those people missed it. They should have got some while you were cheap.

 

[0:13:23.9] KK: Oh! This is getting depressing now that I’m thinking about it. No. Then I had a show at Taylor’s Contemporary Gallery — It was interesting, because I was at Baker’s and it switched over Chroma. Actually, I had Chroma as the very first show. Then I had Carol and Taylor’s first show on Hot Springs.

 

[0:13:42.0] KM: Do you sell anything?

 

[0:13:42.7] KK: “No. What is this guy keep going? Can he take a hint? Go home!”

 

[0:13:53.2] KM: What’s the next one? Do we want to know?

 

[0:13:57.3] KK: Okay. Actually, there was — After the Taylor show had closed, she kept a couple of pieces and then later one of those sold to a guy from New York who was a set designer and was down in Hot Springs.

 

[0:14:14.8] KM: Kevin, tell us about Levon Helm. Who he was. How you and Arkansas artists came to be asked to create —

 

[0:14:19.4] KK: First off, Levon is just the coolest and even if you’re not interested in Levon, you ought to read his book, This Wheel’s on Fire.

 

[0:14:30.5] KM: What?

 

[0:14:31.6] KK: Yes. It’s a wonderful read.

 

[0:14:32.2] KM: What is that? This Wheel’s on Fire.

 

[0:14:34.0] KK: This Wheel’s on Fire. He must have just been on the porch with a beer and dictating it, because it just reads so conversationally. It’s just the coolest book. It’s great.

 

[0:14:49.9] KM: Did he do it after he was dying?

 

[0:14:51.4] KK: No. It came out in ’92, I think. Something like that.

 

[0:14:53.6] KM: Oh, a long time ago.

 

[0:14:54.6] KK: Yeah. Anyway. Yeah. I had it come about. All right, my old roommate, Chris Maxwell from the Gun Bunnies in the days when I was living with him. Chris has moved to New York in the mid-90s and now he lives in Woodstock, which is where Levon lived. Of course, they renamed part of the Arkansas Highway Levon Helm Memorial Highway and there’s also Levon Helm Memorial Highway in Woodstock as well.

 

[0:15:25.3] KM: They did it in Arkansas because he was born in Marvell, Arkansas.

 

[0:15:28.3] KK: Yeah. Turkey Scratch. He was born in —

 

[0:15:30.3] KM: Turkey Scratch is it?

 

[0:15:31.7] KK: In a lane — Anyway, grew up in Turkey Scratch.

 

[0:15:36.4] KM: Turkey Scratch. Okay.

 

[0:15:37.3] KK: Turkey Scratch. Yes, a suburb of Marvell. There you go. Anyway, Chris was in town and then also musician extraordinaire Greg Spradlin was doing a video and having Chris playing a song. The three of us were running around. Greg had done the video for the Levon Helm Memorial. He was talking about that and I was sort of going with Greg, “Hey, don’t forget your old man Kevin over here,” because actually I think they had already contacted an artist out in Vegas.

 

[0:16:17.9] KM: They were already thinking about doing a bust.

 

[0:16:19.5] KK: Actually, they’re going to be doing a large relief, a bronze relief and it was going to cost beaucoups of money.

 

Anyway, I had Greg managed to get me a meeting with Anna Lee and Joe Griffith and some of the ones who are starting —

 

[0:16:38.3] KM: Friends of Levon or something?

 

[0:16:38.8] KK: Yes. Mm-hmm. Anna Lee’s and the song The Weight.

 

[0:16:44.3] KM: Is that his wife?

 

[0:16:45.2] KK: No. Childhood friend from Turkey Scratch. Yeah. Anyway, I went down to Doe’s and had a meeting with them.

 

[0:16:53.9] KM: In Little Rock, Arkansas.

 

[0:16:54.8] KK: Mm-hmm.

 

[0:16:55.4] KM: Okay. You didn’t have to go to Woodstock?

 

[0:16:57.7] KK: No. You got to go to the power room at Doe’s though. That was fun.

 

[0:17:02.1] KM: Yeah. I know that room.

 

[0:17:04.6] KK: Anyway, made my pitch and got the job.

 

[0:17:08.1] KM: The bust is going to be for Marvell, Arkansas. That’s where it’s going to be.

 

[0:17:12.2] KK: Yes. Also, part of this, they’re raising money and they’re to restore his childhood home as well. 

 

[0:17:18.9] KM: In Arkansas too?

 

[0:17:20.4] KK: It will be in Marvell. Right. That’s another thing — Yeah, they brought actually Richard Butler here in Little Rock, had gotten several houses from there and then they got up and realized that one of them was Levon’s and then Richard donated Levon’s house back to them. It’s moved back down to Marvell. Anyway, that’s part of the project is to restore the home and then the bust will be outside the home.

 

[0:17:44.5] KM: They’ve paid you to make the bust out of clay. What’s what you do, right? Then you — Tell us the process.

 

[0:17:52.6] KK: Yes. The first thing is me doing the sculpture and then — Yeah. Then a mold will be made and they’ll do the — Then the foundry takes over. They make the mold. They do the wax and pour the bronze, the whole bit from there.

 

[0:18:07.3] KM: Did you have to work from a photograph or what’d you work from?

 

[0:18:10.6] KK: Yeah. A lot of photographers. That was a whole another thing as well.

 

[0:18:13.9] KM: Because he was gone.

 

[0:18:14.3] KK: Yeah. The first meeting, it was like we’d like a bust of Levon. I did a sketch of traditional bust and brought it to him for the second meeting and then Joe was like, “Man! It’d be cool if he was holding some drumsticks and a mandolin,” and I said, “That would be cool. It’s another sculpture, but it would be cool.”

 

Did that and then came back to the third meeting. At the third meeting, Paul Berry was there who’s an old friend of Levon’s and he was like, “Man! He’s got to be singing.” All I could think of is, “Well, I’ve never seen a singing bust.”

 

[0:18:48.7] KM: Well, there’s a first for everything.

 

[0:18:50.2] KK: There’s a first for everything. I was a little worried that it was going to kind of come off looking like money python and the holy grail with the black knight when get his arms and legs cut off. I was like, “Oh, no! This singing —”

 

Anyway, I thought, “Well, if we the microphone in there that gets a context on why, because Levon is such an expressive singer.

 

[0:19:13.4] KM: Gosh, he is.

 

[0:19:15.1] KK: Anyway. Worked off photos and then just watched hours and hours and hours of the Last Waltz, because then I could see different angels and really see him pushing it out there singing. That’s when just watching him over and over, I was just flabbergasted the way the physicality of the way he would drum and then have all that being able to push out that volume and that wonderful voice and it’s just amazing. 

 

[0:19:41.9] KM: He is amazing, and I had no idea till I’ve watched these YouTube videos, but you nailed it. It’s just so physical.

 

[0:19:48.2] KK: Oh, yeah. Then to be able to hear everything — Yeah, to do the whole thing. I’m in awe of what he did.

 

[0:19:56.0] KM: A lot of people were excited about you doing that and you got a lot of press. Who came to interview you over the —

 

[0:20:02.6] KK: Well, Anna Lee and I went out and kind of did the little dog and pony show as far as the local — All the media and everything, and then we went to the AP. She had a press here, and — Big fan. Then the next morning, then Bridget was like, “Good Lord!” It had been picked up all over. 

 

[0:20:25.4] KM: You got phone calls nationally about it?

 

[0:20:27.3] KK: Yeah. I got some interviews from some upstate New York papers who are obviously interested because of Levon living up in Woodstock area. Yeah, but the story was picked up by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

 

[0:20:42.7] KM: When did you decide — Friends of Levon don’t have enough money to turn it into a bronze, because that’s expensive.

 

[0:20:49.9] KK: Right.

 

[0:20:51.6] KM: Woodstock doesn’t want to help with that? I guess it’s going to be down here.

 

[0:20:54.1] KK: Woodstock has its own thing going on. They’re trying to save the barn that Levon had and everything. I’ve talked to them as well, and his daughter, Levon’s daughter, Amy is a singer songwriter and she’s played here — In fact, she just played here maybe a week or two ago up in Fayetteville at George’s.

 

She came last year and did a show at South on Maine here in Little Rock, and so she came by the house to see the bust. Of course, that’s always scary, because the family — You’re like, [inaudible 0:21:25.9]. But she loved. It was one little change minor that I made while she was there and then she said, “Perfect. That’s it.”

 

The other cool thing is that she’s got a couple of boys and they were upstairs playing with my kids. The one who’s about 10 years old, his name is Lee. He came down and he hadn’t seen it yet. He just came down and looked up and went, “Papi!”

 

[0:21:46.6] KM: Oh! That is good.

 

[0:21:47.9] KK: Yeah. Then I went, “Okay. That’s it. We got it.”

 

[0:21:50.1] KM: You nailed it. How old was that young boy? 

 

[0:21:54.6] KK: Around 10.

 

[0:21:55.8] KM: That’s good. You got the Go Fund Me account. Let’s plug it. You need some money to get this bronze. How much money do you need?

 

[0:22:05.8] KK: I haven’t heard lately, but I mean it’s an ongoing process, because like I said, we’re not going to stop at the bust. You got to keep going with the house and everything. I think the overall — 

 

[0:22:15.8] KM: The Go Fund Me is not just for the bust. It’s for the whole project for friends.

 

[0:22:19.4] KK: It’s like phase one. I think the total goes like $150,000 to try to get things short up.

 

[0:22:25.4] KM: Where do you go to this Go Fund Me?

 

[0:22:28.2] KK: Yeah, gofundme.com and then you can plug in Levon Helm.

 

[0:22:31.7] KM: Levon Helm and you’ll get there.

 

[0:22:33.0] KK: Right. There’s also levonhelmmemorial.org, which is a website that you can also donate through there as well.

 

[0:22:41.6] KM: They’re not the same as Woodstock. If you fund to that, does it go to both Woodstock and Marvell? 

 

[0:22:48.5] KK: No. To Marvell.

 

[0:22:49.2] KM: It all goes to Marvell. Do they not have a Go Fund Me up there? They’re not smart enough to do that?

 

[0:22:57.4] KK: Well, like I said, I was — I think their focus right now is on the barn.

 

[0:23:02.8] KM: Did they ever get contract anybody to do the big statue that you were talking about? The relief, the big relief?

 

[0:23:09.2] KK: No, because that was for the Marvell, and then once I talked to them I was saying, “I wouldn’t do it really.”

 

[0:23:15.3] KM: I thought that was for Woodstock.

 

[0:23:16.5] KK: No.

 

[0:23:16.5] KM: Tell him about your bust is made from this song.

 

[0:23:27.7] KK: Yeah. I had — Because as the bust kept changing as I was working on it then, yeah, it was interesting. I had a certain mouth position I thought just didn’t feel right. This sculpture is basically between the N and the I of Knight.

 

[0:23:44.7] KM: Of Knight. The Knight. That’s crazy.

 

[0:23:51.5] KK: Yeah, Levon. I was saying, he had a complete acting career as well. He played Loretta Lynn’s dad, Coal Minder’s daughter. He was in The Right Stuff. In fact, he did the voiceover at the end of The Right Stuff. He was in The Shooter with Mark Walberg. I think that was one of his later ones. I can’t remember the name of Tommy Lee Jones — In fact, Tommy Lee Jones is one who got him I think going when they were looking for Loretta Lynn’s father. I think Tommy Lee Jones was one who suggested him.

 

Anyway, it’s called the  Three Burials of Mosquitoes. I don’t know. It’s a Spanish — He’s phenomenal in that.

 

[0:24:36.1] KM: Also, Tim, you did a life update while you’re out on your phone and went to the — Where did you go to the Go Fund Me?

 

[0:24:43.3] TB: Directly to the Go Fund Me. That’s right.

 

[0:24:45.1] KM: How much was the goal?

 

[0:24:46.2] TB: The goal is 25k.

 

[0:24:48.5] KM: They have how much —

 

[0:24:49.6] TB: Almost at 11k.

 

[0:24:51.0] KK: Almost at a half. We’re getting there. The little engine that could, “Chug-chug!”

 

[0:24:55.8] TB: Anyone who wants to donate live now, let’s get it to that half.

 

[0:24:58.7] KK: That’s good.

 

[0:24:59.2] KM: I like it. Let’s talk about the General William Darby 1,300 pound, 7-foot-tall statue in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

 

[0:25:11.5] KK: Which I hoisted up with me on bare hands. Yeah, that was a biggie. Okay, this is what I love about what I get to do, because I get in to the worlds of these different people. I have to go from General Darby, who started the U.S. Rangers, and to Levon Helm. That’s what I’ve loved about what I get to do for one thing.

 

William Darby, yeah. Grew up in Fort Smith —

 

[0:25:40.0] KM: Who commissioned you?

 

[0:25:41.8] KK: Once again, it was kind of a grassroots thing. Joe and Liz Armstrong who are — Joe was a Ranger and both of them grew up in Fort Smith.

 

[0:25:50.6] KM: Do you know him before?

 

[0:25:51.5] KK: No. I did not know them before.

 

[0:25:53.7] KM: How did they find you?

 

[0:25:54.9] KK: It was a national competition.

 

[0:25:58.2] KM: Oh! It was a national competition.

 

[0:25:59.8] KK: Yeah, a lot of times you’re throwing your hat in the rain for jobs, especially big ones.

 

[0:26:05.2] KM: You submitted a drawing?

 

[0:26:07.2] KK: I’m trying to remember. I think that one I submitted my portfolio. Some of them they request a specific drawing or whatever and others they just want to see your portfolio to see that you’ve done work and you’re capable of doing it.

 

[0:26:24.3] KM: Do you have to go in for interviews?

 

[0:26:25.8] KK: Oh, yeah. I think what it was was we put the portfolios in and I made the final cut of three, maybe, artists, and then they asked for a drawing and then go in for an interview to the board. You pitch your idea and you sell yourself basically.

 

[0:26:43.9] KM: Being a successful artist is like applying for a job over and over and over —

 

[0:26:48.3] KK: Over and over and over again. What have you done for me lately?

 

[0:26:50.6] KM: God! I would have never thought that.

 

[0:26:54.1] KK: Mm-hmm.

 

[0:26:54.7] KM: How do you find these listings? Do they have like a website that you go to and they post?

 

[0:26:59.7] KK: That’s the nice thing about the internet now, is that you do some of that, but for that one I think Mark Christ at —

 

[0:27:08.6] KM: Arkansas Historical?

 

[0:27:09.3] KK: Yes. I ran into him when I was out on a walk and he told that that was coming up. I put it on my radar.

 

[0:27:15.9] KM: It’s networking.

 

[0:27:17.3] KK: Oh, that helps so much. You bet.

 

[0:27:18.8] KM: Yeah. You fell in love. I’ve followed you on Facebook and I watched the motorcycles that —

 

[0:27:26.6] KK: Yeah, that was astounding when they brought it all in.

 

[0:27:29.1] KM: You were speechless. You were in awe of this.

 

[0:27:34.4] KK: It was emotional. There was a guy that we met, the unveiling was on Saturday morning. Friday night they had kind of a meet and greet and I got to meet Darby’s nephew that I’ve been talking with quite a bit through email, but we hadn’t met in person, and that was quite an emotional meeting.

 

Wilbur, his nickname, Punch, Wilber Punch Gallop is 95 years old in a wheelchair has been one of Darby’s original 500 men and he was there.

 

[0:28:06.9] KM: Is he the last living survivor?

 

[0:28:09.3] KK: Boy! Probably.

 

[0:28:13.6] KM: What did he say?

 

[0:28:15.0] KK: He was so soft spoken and half of his face was kind of disfigured because he had taken shrapnel and shells during the war and he had, I think, every metal you couldn’t even think of and some I never heard of. He’d been awarded.

 

Anyway, interesting character. I was so glad my boys were with me and we get to meet him and take some pictures with him and everything.

 

[0:28:34.8] KM: Oh!

 

[0:28:36.6] KK: They’re coming for me?

 

[0:28:37.1] KM: They’re coming for you.

 

[0:28:39.8] KK: Anyway, real soft-spoken sweet guy. Oh, he was nicknamed Punch because he was 1940 Golden Gloves Champion of the Midwest I believe. Yeah.

 

[0:28:48.9] KM: Really?

 

[0:28:49.1] KK: Yeah. Anyway. Then at the unveiling, all these rangers were lined up behind Punch in his wheelchair and then Punch all called them to attention with his loud booming voice. This soft-spoken man in the wheelchair and then just, “Ten-hut!” Just loud as you can imagine. Boy, they all, “Op!” Yeah, the hair on the back of your neck [inaudible 0:29:13.3]. It was wonderful.

 

[0:29:15.1] KM: The nephew is Darby Watkins and he said this about you, “Thank you, Kevin Kresse, for absolutely nailing his uncle’s image and personality,” and he went on to say, “When I look at that statue, I see a precautious boy with a wicked grin and a lust for life.”

 

You didn’t make a statue — This bronze is not of him as a Ranger. It’s him as a young boy?

 

[0:29:36.7] KK: No. It’s of him as a Ranger. He’s just saying you see that — That’s what’s, once again, so interesting about getting to do what I do. I read a book that Darby had written about growing up. There’s just certain things that you catch and one of them that really caught my eye was as a boy he went down one of those drainage, big drainage ditches for like over a mile to went up to the river.

 

[0:30:03.8] KM: On purpose?

 

[0:30:04.4] KK: Yes! Growing up, we had a little one that went over the driveway and I was afraid to go through it. I’m just talking that’s just inning. Yeah, reading a bunch of the books on him too. He was an amazing character. Killed two days before the war ended.

 

[0:30:23.6] KM: Really?

 

[0:30:23.8] KK: Yeah, in Italy.

 

[0:30:26.0] KM: He was born in Fort Smith in 1911, graduated U.S. Military Academy of West Point New York.

 

[0:30:33.1] KK: Yeah. That mid-class.

 

[0:30:37.2] KM: During World War II he formed the Darby’s Rangers.

 

[0:30:41.6] KK: Yeah. In fact, the U.S. Rangers were called Darby’s Rangers for a long time.

 

[0:30:46.9] KM: There were no Rangers before him?

 

[0:30:48.3] KK: No. It was like the first, almost like special ops kind of a group. I think they’re kind of basing it off the British Commandos that were happening there. They went to Northern Scotland to be trained. He did all of that and then started in North Africa.

 

[0:31:05.1] KM: I can’t believe how much research has to be done on your sculptures. No wonder you’re so good at it, because it’s almost like getting into the character of a role you’re going to play.

 

[0:31:15.5] KK: I was about to say, yeah. It’s so much like that, because what has to happen is, especially someone who’s been life with Darby had been done for whatever, 70 years. You have to just read about it and try to get into the character of who he is and then, and then it is like that. It’s like I’m the actor who’s playing him. I have to figure out as much as I can about him so that as I’m making choices, as I’m sculpting, I’m going to just feel right more than anything. Just feel like him. 

 

[0:31:47.0] KM: It’s not just about skill. It’s intuitiveness too.

 

[0:31:48.8] KK: Yeah. I always have to think what’s the emotional goal of what I’m doing, where am I wanting this to go emotionally? Then you’re putting the likeness and the — Especially with Darby, you have to get all of the military stuff right, because those guys — Man! At one point I’m sending pictures to them all checking things and at one point I had one rank on his collar and one rank on his cap and they’re like, “Kevin, you got two different —” Because I’m not — Yeah, I’m not in the military. I was like, “I’m just seeing if you guys are checking. Making sure you’re on your toes.” Yeah, you’re just layering all that on.

 

[0:32:26.6] KM: Do you get in that personality. Does it kind of affect your home life and who you are while you’re sculpting of a certain personality type?

 

[0:32:35.6] KK: Yeah was ordering Bridget and the kids are around for the months.

 

[0:32:38.1] KM: Whatever. Were you singing you’re doing the [inaudible 0:32:41.0]?

 

[0:32:42.0] KK: Bridget has like perfect shift, so she can’t stand this. It’s like fingernails down the blackboard when I sing.

 

[0:32:48.5] KM: You’re right. He did get a lot of metals. He had three Purple Hearts. Two Distinguished Service Crosses, Silver Star, Legion of Merit. He got something from the Russians. He got something from the French. Then he was finally killed two days before the war was over.

 

[0:33:02.7] KK: Yeah. You read the books and he should have been killed a thousand times over. Then —

 

[0:33:08.4] KM: Three Purple Hearts. That’s pretty big deal. That means something happened to three —

 

[0:33:12.3] KK: The things he did were incredible. Then, he was sent home for not quite a year in ’44 and then went back to his man. He didn’t want to be away from something — Fort Smith’s sister city was Cisterna, Italy and they suffered a huge defeat there and — Anyway, he wanted to get back to those men. He hated that that had happened.

 

Anyway, he was just in a group meeting. Germans were retreating obviously and they fired a big shell and it exploded up above them and killed two of them I believe.

 

[0:33:50.2] KM: Wow! You said on a publication, “It’s a kick knowing that my public work will still be there long after I’m gone. I never thought about that aspect too much till after my father died. It also great hearing people interpret what they see in some of my work. It makes me realize that everyone sees art through their filter of life and that every interpretation is just as valid as the reason I did it.”

 

Can you speak to that?

 

[0:34:17.0] KK: Yeah. My first public sculpture was Baptist Hospital and Allan Smith was redoing the gardening and he brought me on to do — It’s like a Good Samaritan scene. Anyway, when we had installed and I was doing some finishing work, that’s when I first realized, because you would get these people coming up and they would say, “Do you do this?” I was like, “Yes, sir.” He’s go, “Is that supposed to be the hospital and not the patient?” I’d go, “Yeah.” It kept happening over and over again.

 

Another one would come up, “Is that supposed to be God and that Job?” “Sure. You get. Exactly.” “Is that Jesu, not us?” “Sure. You bet.”

 

[0:35:09.7] KM: Wow!

 

[0:35:11.2] KK: Yeah. It was just right in my face. The first time that I was really — I thought, “This is great. This is great.”

 

[0:35:18.5] KM: What do you think about all the confederate statues being taken down? After all, aren’t they just art also?

 

[0:35:24.7] KK: I think you probably can’t get away from — I think you have history, but then you have the history of the history of the way they were brought in during the time they were brought in and the veiled reasons that they were brought in. I think that’s what makes it for me so troubling, because I didn’t realize that growing up.

 

I think a lot of these stuff just kind of becomes a wallpaper you don’t notice anymore when you’re sort of growing up around it and then all these attention is brought on it and you’d go, “Oh, wow! I didn’t really thought about that. I hadn’t really looked at it,” because as you’ve been driving past it every day all your life or something. 

 

[0:36:01.8] KM: What are most of those sculptures made out of?

 

[0:36:04.3] KK: I think a lot of those are probably bronze as well.

 

[0:36:07.3] KM: Those sculptures are going to be taken down. Were there ever famous artists that did any of them you think?

 

[0:36:15.8] KK: Nothing that pops to my mind right off the bat.

 

[0:36:17.4] KM: Yeah, I can’t think of anything either. I heard someone said something about them being art and I thought, “I’ve never thought about it like that.”

 

[0:36:24.6] KK: It’s interesting too, because somebody was talking about the — Here in Little Rock and on the Capital Grounds and it’s the one — It’s actually of a soldier walking — He’s holding hands with his mother and there’s a little kid at the mother’s side. You know what I’m talking about? You’re looking at the capital sort of the left. It’s up on a pretty high pedestal. Somebody talking about that being a confederate — Because it’s not as blatantly obvious as Stonewall Jackson or whatever.

 

Because I always looked at it and just thought, “Oh, it’s just a memorial to the families being torn apart by war.” 

 

[0:37:00.4] KM: Right.

 

[0:37:01.6] KK: I think it’s as egregious as  some of the other ones.

 

[0:37:04.8] KM: Tell the other Levon Helm story.

 

[0:37:07.1] KK: I was just talking to his friends. Everybody who knew him has a Levon Story. He’s just one of those charismatic personable characters and I’ve heard so many different stories. Like I was saying, they’d say, “Oh, man. He’s a con. He’d nee 500 bucks, he’d take 500 bucks and you would never see it again, but then he’d have $10,000 and give it away.” It just didn’t seem to matter that much to him. It was more about the experience I think that he was in at the moment.

 

[0:37:37.5] KM: You said he heard about —

 

[0:37:39.3] KK: Yeah. Paul Berry was telling me a story about this boyhood I think died of — I’m going to get the story right, but died of cancer something here in Arkansas and he was up in New York and drove all the way down. Got a buddy of his. They went and got a couple of harmonicas and worked out I think Amazing Grace. Went to the funeral, to the grave site service and played and put their harmonicas on the coffin and he walked off.

 

[0:38:01.6] KM: That’s a great story. Tim is just over there on his phone Googling everything. You pulled up the sculptor of Levon.

 

[0:38:10.3] TB: The pictures on the Go Fund Me page, I’m just like refreshing it to see if we’ve been getting donations. As you scroll through you can see the pictures of the sculpture itself and when you brought up that it’s like at the “nigh”, you could see it. That’s literally what — The sound is coming out of his mouth, you know?

 

[0:38:31.6] KM: Yeah. That’s great. You taught — Let me ask you —

 

[0:38:35.0] KK: Yeah, I taught for about —

 

[0:38:36.5] KM: Yeah. You taught at the Arkansas Art Center. Did you teach sculpture or painting?

 

[0:38:41.2] KK: I thought I think everything. Early on I taught kids cartooning. I taught — Anyway, drawing, figure drawing, figure painting and figure sculpture. Also taught eight years at a head injury rehab center, taught kids.

 

[0:38:56.0] KM: Really?

 

[0:38:56.4] KK: Mm-hmm.

 

[0:38:58.0] KM: Which one do you like better? When I was buying your stuff, because I have a self-portrait of you that I bought —

 

[0:39:03.8] KK: Yeah, the scary one. They’re all scary, but that’s extra special scary. Secret sauce on it.

 

[0:39:11.4] KM: Thank you. You were painting everything then.

 

[0:39:16.1] KK: Yeah.

 

[0:39:17.3] KM: I went to the show and it was all paintings. Now it sounds like you’re sculpting everything. What’s happened?

 

[0:39:22.8] KK: What happened is I was teaching at the Art Center and you could take other classes. I just started jumping in to sculpture, because I had one sculpture class in college my very final semester, and I liked it. Then I was off on to other things. I thought, “Yeah, I’d like to get back into that.” I started sculpting at the night class and my friend, Hamid, super sweet guy, he moved and so I became then the sculpture teacher by default.

 

[0:39:55.2] KM: At the Arkansas Art Center.

 

[0:39:56.3] KK: At the Art Center. Yeah. Then got frustrated with the clays after they were fired, like fingers breaking off and everything. I went out to Euler and Michael [inaudible 0:40:06.0] taught me how to cast and — 

 

[0:40:10.2] KM: But you still start with clay, don’t you?

 

[0:40:11.9] KK: Oh, yeah.

 

[0:40:14.3] KM: Why did the fingers not break off? You went and learn how to —

 

[0:40:16.6] KK: I learned how to cast bronze.

 

[0:40:18.3] KM: Oh! When you fire it, doesn’t it still have the tendency to break or did you just end up having a teacher teach you how to keep it from being so fragile?

 

[0:40:28.6] KK: No. The clay —

 

[0:40:30.8] KM: The clays are different.

 

[0:40:31.5] KK: After they’re fired, anything sticking off can easily get — It can still be broken.

 

[0:40:36.9] KM: The clays that you were doing in the Art Center were different form the clays that you would do for a bronze.

 

[0:40:40.7] KK: Yes. If I know I’m going to do a bronze, then I’ll work in a different clay. I’ll work in an oil-based clay. It doesn’t dry out.

 

[0:40:46.7] KM: And it’s not as fragile.

 

[0:40:49.1] KK: No.

 

[0:40:50.4] KM: I finally get it.

 

[0:40:52.5] KK: I’ll do large ones, like Darby’s. It’s over foam. It’s a long —

 

[0:40:58.8] KM: What does that mean it’s over foam?

 

[0:41:00.9] KK: I do a small model —

 

[0:41:02.5] KM: Oh! Carve it out of foam.

 

[0:41:03.7] KK: And they enlarge it in foam and then spray the oil-based clay over it and then I get the oil-based clay and articulate and then I sculpt all the details and everything and make changes in the foam and then sculpt them.

 

[0:41:17.1] KM: Because there’s no way you can make a clay seven feet tall.

 

[0:41:21.3] KK: Right. That would be time consuming.

 

[0:41:24.6] KM: Are you crazy? It seems like it’d fall over. You make it out of foam and then you put the clay on top of the phone and then you’re able to sculpt that. You’re just kind of got a base that you can get kind of work off of.

 

[0:41:35.3] KK: Right, underneath. Getting it to the foundry, because typically the large ones I take to Norman, Oklahoma. There’s an art foundry there. I took Darby in a U-haul. I rented a 10 foot U-haul truck and he’s all in pieces. I had his bust of him in the passenger seat. He’d look like we are driving together. He’s looking ahead and we’re driving off and I was about 15 minutes from the foundry and there was a huge explosion and the driveshaft had broken and I was left on the side of the road. Anyway, adventure, art adventures.

 

[0:42:10.5] KM: It seems like it would break on the way there.

 

[0:42:14.4] KK: Well, the big dangers when it’s superhot, because the clay can melt down to a liquid. You don’t want to be transporting it when it’s superhot outside.

 

[0:42:25.1] KM: You believe in taking classes, because you went to the class to learn how to do bronzes. You’re a big proponent if you want to be an artist to keep taking classes.

 

[0:42:33.6] KK: Yeah. Depending on what your —

 

[0:42:36.1] KM: Continuing your education.

 

[0:42:37.3] KK: You bet. Yeah.

 

[0:42:39.1] KM: Did you go to school for art as a college?

 

[0:42:42.4] KK: Did I?

 

[0:42:42.4] KM: Aha.

 

[0:42:43.3] KK: I didn’t went to school [inaudible 0:42:44.6] —

 

[0:42:44.5] KM: I didn’t find anywhere where you —

 

[0:42:46.5] KK: No. Like I said, when I graduated high school I had five brothers and sisters who are already in college or med school and I didn’t know if I was any good or not. Yeah, went on out to ULR.

 

[0:42:58.3] KM: University of Arkansas at Little Rock?

 

[0:42:59.9] KK: Mm-hmm.

 

[0:43:00.7] KM: And you graduate?

 

[0:43:01.4] KK: I did graduate.

 

[0:43:02.5] KM: I couldn’t find that anywhere about you. I wondered if you ended up just going out of high school and be kind of successful or if you actually went to school and stayed the whole time and got a degree.

 

[0:43:10.3] KK: I got a degree.

 

[0:43:11.1] KM: And you recommend that?

 

[0:43:15.0] KK: Maybe not. Depending on what you want to do. As an artist, if I were talking to myself back then, I’d maybe go apprentice with an artist if I really knew what I was wanting to do. It’s a big subject there, but there’s — People ask me where I study and really I say I studied in my studio. 

 

[0:43:40.0] KM: Did you do all of these in your house?

 

[0:43:41.9] KK: 16 years I have a studio above Venos and that’s really where I learned my craft.

 

[0:43:47.4] KM: Till you burned it down. Tell everybody that story. It’s all good now.

 

[0:43:56.0] KK: It’s all good, but I was going to say coming up back here and in just a couple of weeks we’re starting the third installment of Artist Inc., which is an 8-week program teaching artists, and we have all disciplines. We had a member of — Last time I had a film maker, I had a writer. I had a fabric artist teaching how to make a living in the arts, because like said, nothing was ever said to me about how to make a living. 

 

[0:44:26.2] KM: When is this?

 

[0:44:28.2] KK: It starts September 21st.

 

[0:44:30.3] KM: Soon.

 

[0:44:30.4] KK: Yeah.

 

[0:44:31.5] KM: Where is it?

 

[0:44:33.2] KK: John Godan got it into our agenda. It’s in our agenda.

 

[0:44:37.5] KM: If you want to find out about it or sign up for it, how do you do it?

 

[0:44:40.4] KK: It’s a juried —

 

[0:44:42.3] KM: What does that mean?

 

[0:44:43.0] KK: It means it’s for people who are not in school. They are out of school and they’re working in their — What other discipline is, and they submit their work and then they have people — Because there’s only room for 25.

 

[0:44:56.7] KM: Is it full already?

 

[0:44:57.0] KK: It is.

 

[0:44:58.3] KM: Oh, so no one [inaudible 0:44:58.6].

 

[0:44:59.6] KK: They’ll come around again.

 

[0:45:01.1] KM: Next year?

 

[0:45:01.3] KK: Yeah. Either next year. They might be doing it every two years.

 

[0:45:04.5] KM: What are you going to teach?

 

[0:45:06.0] KK: I’m a facilitator, so there’s 25 others and there’s five facilitators. The first year, it’s set up the first hour of the three hours is everyone in the room and kind of going over whatever that subject is. The second hour, each week we’ll have a theme. Let’s say it’s taxes and finances and things you need to know as an artist.

 

[0:45:25.7] KM: Wow!

 

[0:45:27.0] KK: Then maybe a CPA will come in and talk about what you need to know. The third hour we go to small groups of the five artists and one facilitator and we keep the same small group throughout the eight weeks. Then we go over just real quickly your personal life, your finances and your art life because they all affect one another. We just kind of go around. You build this trust between the six of us and we talk about artist statement or resumes and we just critique each other and go over everything. I’m just as much in there as anything — 

 

[0:46:01.7] KM: You’re not really creating art.

 

[0:46:03.8] KK: No. We’re creating a life.

 

[0:46:05.6] KM: That’s right. Wow! That’s really different. You’re creating a life in the arts.

 

[0:46:10.8] KK: This is coming under the umbrella of the Mid-America Arts Alliance which is under the National Endowment for the Arts. They’ve kind of set up the curriculum that we’re sort of going off of.

 

[0:46:20.2] KM: I’m so impressed with that.

 

[0:46:22.8] KK: Oh! It’s wonderful. Yeah.

 

[0:46:25.1] KM: Because I think a lot of artists just don’t want to deal with all that.

 

[0:46:28.0] KK: Okay. That’s a whole another subject, because you do. You get all these different personalities. I have a real good friend who’s a painter. He’s in his 70s and I sort of talk about like it’s a restaurant. You have somebody who’s maybe on the sidewalk saying, “Hey! Blah-blah,” really out there, bringing them in or the maitre de or whatever, or as a waiter, or you have the people in the kitchen that don’t even really want to be maybe around the people. He’s sort of like that. He doesn’t want to — He hates openings. He hates the shows. He doesn’t care for that part of it. He wants the gallery just sort of take care of the things and do it. Like I said, I have to get out and the nature might be is just to sell it. It’s not my nature, but I’ve to developed that part.

 

[0:47:08.1] KM: That’s right. You have to learn to sell it. I think that the most successful artists that I know are ones that know how to sell.

 

[0:47:14.5] KK: It’s easier for me to sell your product than it is. I think for most artists than to sell themselves, and that’s —

 

[0:47:20.4] KM: It’s very personal.

 

[0:47:21.6] KK: Yeah, because it’s also —

 

[0:47:23.0] KM: Rejection.

 

[0:47:24.3] KK: Yeah. Rejection aspect of it, yeah. The whole psychological part of it. Plus any tainting of this is art. It should be pure and now I’m trying to monetize it. You get into a lot of that psychology part of it that can really mutt the waters up.

 

[0:47:41.3] KM: Yeah, I can imagine. That is well said. How long did it take you before you start being able to live on your art?

 

[0:47:47.6] KK: The twins are 18. They’ve just gone off, so 19, 20 years or so.

 

[0:47:55.8] KM: You’ve been doing it for 19 or 20 years, but how long before — Like it took Flag & Banner nine years before it can support me. How long do you think —

 

[0:48:03.1] KK: Oh! Well, I mean — Good Lord. I kind of jumped to the job-job in — Started in ’89 and then the twins were born in ’99, ’98. Nine or 10 years or something like that.

 

[0:48:19.2] KM: It started to really take off?

 

[0:48:21.1] KK: Yeah.

 

[0:48:21.8] KM: That’s funny.

 

[0:48:22.1] KK: Take off is a relative term, but it’s been a roller coaster.

 

[0:48:26.5] KM: What’s your next one — What are you working on now?

 

[0:48:28.6] KK: Actually, after the General Darby, I got the call from a veterinarian in Forth Benning, Georgia and they want to do a memorial to the K-9s that go in first. I’m doing this large attack dog. He was funny too, because he goes, “Yeah, I’m going to fly you down here and get you in a fight suit.” I said, “I’m sorry. Flight suit?” He goes, “No. Bite suit.” 

 

[0:48:51.8] KM: Oh!

 

[0:48:52.7] KK: That’s when I was — That’s okay buddy. I said, “I’m not really a method sculptor. I don’t need to be attacked and chewed up to be —”

 

[0:49:02.8] KM: I don’t know. It sounds like a method sculptor to me. Got to get into all these feel. You’re going to do the dog?

 

[0:49:06.4] KK: I am. He’s already been enlarged. He’s at home right now.

 

[0:49:09.9] KM: You just did something for Mt. St. Mary’s. 

 

[0:49:13.4] KK: Yeah. I brought that to them this morning.

 

[0:49:15.5] KM: What was it? Tell me.

 

[0:49:16.7] KK: A crucifix for their chapel, 7-feet tall. 

 

[0:49:19.4] KM: That’s just incredible. Let’s don’t forget, Levon Helm’s needs to get bronze. We go to — Tim, what is it we’re going go to?

 

[0:49:28.1] TB: Look up just Levon Helm Memorial, Go Fund Me.

 

[0:49:30.8] KM: If you want to get in to buy some of your work, Kevin, where do they go?

 

[0:49:36.7] KK: Yeah. For years and years and years I was at Gallery 26 but I’m not really producing work like that —

 

[0:49:43.3] KM: You’re not doing paintings anymore. You’re just doing sculptures. I’m lucky to get one.

 

[0:49:49.6] KK: Yeah. It’d be worth even more when I kick the bucket.

 

[0:49:55.2] KM: I think I’ll be done before you are. You’re just doing commissioned work. Your work like that’s —

 

[0:50:02.4] KK: Yeah. Now, I do have a studio that I’ve got this past year — Well, it used to be the St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Before then I was really working at Martin Borchert Building Supplies in a warehouse space when I was doing the large pieces.

 

[0:50:16.4] KM: You’re at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock and you show there a little bit?

 

[0:50:21.8] KK: Occasionally we’ll do — Yeah, we’ll do a little show or something, but I’m actually starting kind of a series of portraits of the same person and I do a charcoal and an oil and a bust. I’d love to eventually have a show of about — I’ve got maybe six or eight models worth of work. It’s where you would see the same model in three different mediums by the same artist and just see how the different mediums affect what you’re picking up from the person who’s modeling.

 

[0:50:55.1] KM: That sounds really interesting.

 

[0:50:57.1] KK: I hope so.

 

[0:50:58.0] KM: If someone wants to commission you, how do they get in touch with you?

 

[0:51:00.6] KK: Oh, go to kevinKresse.com and then they can contact me.

 

[0:51:03.7] KM: Yeah, nobody’s got that name. Kevin Kresse, K-R-E-S-S-E.

 

[0:51:05.1] KK: K-R-E-S-S-E.

 

[0:51:09.4] KM: Nobody’s got that name, so look what I gave you. Thank you so much for coming on, I always love visiting with you.

 

[0:51:15.7] KK: An Italy flag.

 

[0:51:17.2] KM: An Italy flag, because you changed your life in Italy.

 

[0:51:19.1] KK: Yes, it did, and we spent a year in Italy.

 

[0:51:21.6] KM: I thought Bridget might like that.

 

[0:51:22.6] KK: I love it. Thank you so much.

 

[0:51:24.0] KM: That’s the Arkansas flag, the U.S. flag and Italy flag, because Italy changed your life.

 

[0:51:28.3] KK: It did.

 

[0:51:28.7] KM: Kevin, you are one in a million.

 

[0:51:31.0] KK: Oh, baby back at you.

 

[0:51:32.7] KM: Thanks. Tim, who do we have on next week? 

 

[0:51:36.3] TB: Lawyer Gary Green.

 

[0:51:37.3] KM: Oh! He’s an old friend of mine. That ought to be great.

 

To my listeners, if you have a great entrepreneurial story you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief bio and your contact info to —

 

[0:51:48.5] TB: Questions@upyourbusiness.org.

 

[0:51:51.1] KM: I almost stepped on your word. Sorry. Someone will be in touch. Finally, to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me. If you think this program has been about, you’re right, but it’s also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening and that it, whatever it is will help you help your business, your independence or your life. I’m Kerry McCoy and I’ll see you next time on Up In Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[0:52:20.3] TB: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Want to hear today’s program again or want someone else to benefit from it? Jot this down. Next week a podcast will be available flagandbanner.com. Click the tab labeled “Radio Show”, there you’ll find today’s segments with links to resources you heard discussed on this program. Kerry’s goal: to help you live the American Dream.

 

[END]

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