(Photo above: Copyright coldmountainart.com/Kevin Schwarting)
Kevin Schwarting’s Take on Ski Art
To say Kevin Schwarting is a ski enthusiast is to put it mildly. The native Chicagoan escaped city life more than a decade ago when he moved to Montana in the pursuit of fresh powder, exhilarating speed and a simpler lifestyle. After years of working in the ski industry, he moved to Bend and combined his love of the sport with his talent for painting. A unique ski art niche was born, Cold Mountain Art.
“I always really enjoyed winter in the mountains because everything is calm,” begins Schwarting, “it’s a pristine and beautiful thing.” After growing up with two planks strapped to his feet, he notes that it was the feeling of being chest deep in fresh powder that evoked a desire to paint ski scenes. The motion of the skier or snowboarder flying through flurries of snow was what he wanted to capture and connect to the audience.
“Skiing has changed these days. Technology has ramped it up,” he asserts. “But even with all of that, it still comes down to the turn. When you’re flying through powder, and are in complete control, we are all out there to feel the Gs in that turn. That’s what I live for and what I want to show.”
After looking at his repertoire of works which are currently exhibited at the Redmond Municipal Airport, one can say he has succeeded in his desires to portray that unique feeling that many skiers and snowboarders can attest too.
Although Schwarting admits that ski art caters to a smaller audience, the niche is steadily growing as more enthusiasts turn to the sport. The artwork is well received in areas where outdoor culture reigns supreme and Schwarting travels extensively to areas such as Aspen or Montana where he receives commissions for his work. “I basically come alive from October to December,” he says laughing.
The installations at the Redmond Airport are dynamic and eye-catching, with eight and thirty foot prints, with additional creations mounted onto skis and snowboards. For those, Schwarting finds boards that have seen better days, grinds and then wraps them in his artwork. The result is a multi-dimensional piece of work that captures the eye and looks spectacular when mounted onto a wall.
The wrapped prints are of his textured paintings, a craft that he has been perfecting since taking a few art classes while in high school. Having always dabbled in paint, he credits the Visit Bend Center as being an integral part in boosting his career to that of an artist. They gave him his first public art space when he chalked a concrete pillar for the Pillars of Art program in 2011.
“They really made me believe in my own abilities,” he says. “I have immense gratitude to the Visitor’s Center. I really owe them for inviting me in.”
The Center was also instrumental in Schwarting transitioning from canvas to installations when they allowed him to exhibit his artwork for The Center at an art show in Portland. “That was when I was able to network and was put in touch with ski companies that wanted to create skis with my art on them.”
Schwarting looks to the future full of commissioned works and is steadily growing as an artist. He is working on completing his second mural piece for the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection, a piece he hopes will be a vibrant, cotton candy skier with a moonlight look to it. “Those people who know what it feels like,” he says, pausing, “those are the people who I keep painting for.”
Kevin Schwarting’s work at the Redmond Municipal Airport will be on display until May 2017.