Tuesday, June 9, 2009

K. O. Simms on the June Art Loop

A truck with a large painting in the back pulled up to Veritas Wine Shop, and a man unfolded himself from the driver’s seat. Artist K. O. Simms is here to meet and greet people at his exhibit inside the new riverfront wine store.

Simms is a man who enjoys creating his work among his “subjects”. He has often set his canvas up on busy street corners in Wilmington. He told me he likes to paint things as they happen, and he would love to paint a concert in progress.

His work at Veritas includes a sizeable interpretation of the Wilmington Riverfront, done in acrylic with a palette knife. The knife strokes form a rough texture and shapes that made me feel as though I could reach into the painting and touch objects inside. “People ask me, ‘don’t you ever use brushes?’, says Simms. “But I prefer working with a palette knife.”

Many of his works have a jazz theme and incorporate bright or rich coloring. His Billie Holiday piece depicts her with vibrant flowers in her hair as she croons into the microphone. The background is an intense blue, with a bass player vanishing into the space. Clifford Brown shows the trumpet player at the heart of the piece, clothed in a bright green suit.

Other works capture day-to-day city happenings. His East Ninth Street and Pine displays heavy red bricks on the buildings. The people portrayed are those he knows, such as an old man collecting trash on the street. “He was always out there, trying to maintain the neighborhood,” noted Simms.

When talking about his painting of a wedding, he spoke expressively of the young ring bearer and his recovery from childhood cancer. Simms’ art clearly not only illustrates events and people he reveres, but also celebrates the “little things” in everyday life here in Wilmington.

An active art instructor, K. O. Simms teaches primarily at “The Gibby” in Middletown. He’ll also be offering a course on Painting in Nature at Wilmington’s Blue Ball Barn on June 14 as part of Alapocas Run State Park’s summer programming. For details, call the park office at 302.577.1164.

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