Local artist has exhibit at library

November 23, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Visual artist Jack Kaiser always liked doing watercolors when he was a student. He hadn't worked in that medium in 40 or 50 years, he says, and decided to return to it to an extent.

He created several water garden paintings in watercolors, which are on exhibit at the Boyle County Public Library. Some of them were "real tight," he says, but as they got looser, they got better. They have different "looks," too, although all are based on the same subject, a water garden behind Kaiser's porch. One of the water garden paintings has a more contemporary look to it while another one is abstract. Kaiser says he enjoys playing around with a single subject.

"I'm always changing here," he says. "I want to take something and try something different all the time."

Kaiser, 72, also works in acrylics and foil. A work hanging in his home is part of a "Cave" series, and incorporates both elements. The foil is soldered together into pieces, he notes.


"A lot of people work with foil," he notes. "They try it in different ways. I'll do more work with foil."

In the same room are two sculptures: "Helping Hands" and "To The Bone." The pitchforks in the former were found on Kaiser's property.

"I'm a three-dimensional artist as much as a two-dimensional artist," he notes.

He describes more paintings in the library exhibit. One, of a log building that used to stand on his property, was painted from a photograph he had. There's also a painting of a log corn crib and one of an outhouse. The latter is on his brother's hunting farm. Kaiser says he put it in for commercial purposes, as outhouses tend to sell well in this area.

Also in the exhibit is a painting of large, old ash tree on his property, and a still life of bottles.

An industrial designer

Kaiser, a Gathering Artist member who has lived in central Kentucky for 31 years, worked as an industrial designer. He describes it as being like architecture, and students study the visual arts as well as architecture and manufacturing.

"I did mostly a lot of plumbing fixtures for 45 years," explains Kaiser, who also is a member of the Lexington Art League. His daughter, Allison, is the executive director for LAL.

A December 1996 article in The Wall Street Journal, with the headline "Top Toilet Makers From U.S. and Japan Vie for Chinese Market," called Kaiser "the Christian Dior" of water-close couture." It said Kaiser designed "the legendary Cadet, an oft-copied compact commode introduced in 1965. At the time, Kaiser was working for American Standard, for which he worked for many years before opening his own industrial design consulting firm.

His son, John, used to help him build prototype models. All the plumbing fixtures in his house are products he designed for American Standard, he says. He points out a rust-colored toilet model - the "Grand Luxury" toilet - then shows the light blue toilet in his studio's bathroom that is based on that model.

He also shows a 1995 catalog of plumbing fixtures, in Spanish, which has his picture with several of his designs. His name was consistently spelled wrong - Kaisser instead of Kaiser - but he did have a "Suite Kaisser" named after him.

Painting gets his creative juices flowing, he notes.

"It's a chance to still satisfy my creative urges," Kaiser explains, adding he's been a visual artist since grade school. "I still enjoying doing it. It satisfies that part of my urge and so forth that I've always had.

"I've always painted and drawn, as far back as I can remember. It's a thing I always excelled at."

The challenge

Painting itself isn't challenging, he says. Getting his point across is.

"Maybe not understanding why other people don't see what I see (is a challenge)," Kaiser notes.

But he plans on continuing to explore new directions with his artwork, he says.

"I've just started in watercolors. In the little bit I've worked here, I've gone in three or four different directions - an oriental contemporary direction (as well as) a very realistic, detailed direction. And I have a rather classic yet loose direction."

He again cites the water garden paintings in the library exhibit.

"It took me several tries to get ... what I put in the show. Now, in the future when I work (in watercolors), I'll turn out things quicker and more satisfactory.

"I want to do more metal sculpture and these (watercolors). I'm working less in acrylics right now."

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