A hair salon is not a usual venue to show art, but Jamaica You has been doing so for two-dozen years.
“I do it to support the arts for area artists,” said shop co-owner Rita Kinnear. “It’s one of the oldest alternative places to show art in San Luis Obispo.”
Kinnear said one of the first owners taught art, and displayed her students’ work in the salon. Kinnear continued the tradition.
The business currently features Kinnear’s son, Guy Kinnear. Having a mother who owns an establishment that displays art is a benefit, but Kinnear needs no assistance in establishing his reputation. Recently, he judged the Oil Pastel Acrylic Group self-portrait show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and has been invited to jury an upcoming show in Paso Robles. He’s taught art at a community college for over a dozen years, and has exhibited in various venues in the Los Angeles area.
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His current exhibit of figurative drawings mostly features the male form. “I’m trying to explore new directions,” he said.
Kinnear usually avoids professional models for his work. “I prefer people I know who have stories I find compelling,” he said. He also works from skeletons, mannequins, and relies on his imagination. Although Kinnear has done figurative oil paintings, his recent works are graphite on paper, with ink on the Plexiglas covering the drawing.
Kinnear’s intent to create a crossover of portrait and narrative includes classical mythology. In “Different Kind of Icarus” bare branches on the Plexiglas form a wing-like frame over the crouched nude figure, as small wings extend from its face.
Wings are also incorporated in “Up all Night,” as a male figure, wings sprouting from his ankles and shoulders, carries a winged infant.
Others have religious overtones. Raised in San Luis Obispo, he graduated from Atascadero High School and Cuesta College, obtained his Bachelor of Art degree, with a minor in Biblical Studies, at Azusa Pacific University, then a Masters of Fine Art at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Although Biblical references aren’t obvious in his current work, there is no doubt that “Oh, But On Second Thought” portrays Adam and Eve. Kinnear avoided the classical frontal poses of the first couple by rendering the much taller Adam crouching toward Eve, his face uplifted as he tenderly kisses her. In two other drawings, the figures are in the same pose, but in one the man wears garments and in the other the figures are skeletal.
Wings appear on a butterfly in “Helpful Stranger,” and “Gotta Get There Somehow” features a figure outfitted with airplane wings, pulleys and other mechanical apparatus.
By showing her son’s artwork, Kinnear’s mother hopes enough local interest will prompt him to return to his hometown from Azusa, and bring her grandchildren with him. Along with a wing and a prayer, that might do the trick.