When artist Ronald Kullaway moves his left arm he winces in pain – for two reasons. One reason is the physical pain caused by the fall that broke a bone in his upper arm. Kullaway’s accident occurred last week in Seattle where he and his wife Penelope were attending the wedding of their son Maxwell.
The second reason for Kullaway’s pain is more emotional. Since he paints with his left hand he cannot do any work for at least eight weeks. His doctor tells him it will take at least that long before his arm will be recovered enough for him to pick up a paint brush.
Although a major inconvenience Kullaway takes a benevolent philosophical view toward the incident. He shares a similar approach of acceptance to his art work.
Kullaway says, “I don’t put a title or date on my work. If I preach to the viewer what the painting represents, what’s the fun in that? Everyone brings their own experience when they view a painting. It’s a dialogue between the viewer and the painting. It has nothing to do with me.”
Kullaway paints in oils with dramatic uses of figures, shapes and colors. His subjects vary from beach scenes, interiors, landscapes and faces. Another favorite subject for Kullaway is the “tango.”
The public will have an opportunity to see Kullaway’s work at the Mast Cove Galleries in Kennebunkport. There will be an opening reception Saturday, July 12, 5:00 to 7:00 PM. His exhibit continues through Sunday, August 3.
Jean Briggs, owner of the galleries, says, “Once in a while we are fortunate to happen upon an exciting artist with a totally different vision. Kullaway’s paintings are a breath of fresh air. His dancers are full of passion and motion. His beach scenes are playful and all his other paintings bring an entirely new and different approach to familiar subjects.”
While Kullaway has had a successful art career for many years, it took her friend Joe Mauro to introduce Kullaway to Briggs. Mauro, who promotes the visual and performing arts in the area, told Briggs that Kullaway was doing something different from anyone else in the area. So Briggs contacted Kullaway about doing the exhibit.
Kullaway remembers that his mother starting him drawing when he was two years old. His mother would enter his work in contests and he often won. He says, “The eminent landscape artist J.M.M. Turner had a great influence in my art when I got started. Later, I studied Vermeer’s work. I constructed my paintings the way he used ‘wedges of light’. I learned from the Impressionists. For about 25 years I painted only abstract art.”
He describes his current work as an evolution of his abstract paintings. He says, “When you look at a painting it’s not what the retina of the eye sees. It’s how the ‘interior landscape within us’ sees the work. As an artist I like to place myself between the known and the unknown. I search for the edge between these two elements to find a dialogue. The process is never perfect or complete. But, sometimes it can speak. For me, this is the pulse of a work of art.”
Many of Kullaway’s painting feature people whose faces are partially hidden. Kullaway says, “I paint the mysterious, not faces. I think seeking is more interesting than finding.”
Kullaway grew up in New Orleans. He earned a BFA at Yale University and traveled to London under a Fulbright Scholarship in painting. He toured throughout Europe for 3-1/2 years exploring museums and private art collections. While in Europe he painted mural for private patrons.
Kullaway also lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Santa Monica Canyon and Manhattan. He had numerous one-man shows and had studio classes. He also taught art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Pasadena City College in California and Northeastern University in Boston.
Apart from his art career, Kullaway’s early years crossed the path of several well-known personalities. While he was in basic training in the army at Fort Hood, Texas, one of the soldier’s in his unit was singer Elvis Presley. Also, growing up in New Orleans Kullaway was a student at he same school that Lee Harvey Oswald attended.
The Kullaways, who have been married for 49 years, moved to Kennebunkport 6 years ago. They live in a spacious remodeled cape with many of his painting gracing the walls. In addition to the studio where he paints, the house has a music loft. Kullaway considers himself an accomplished amateur fiddle player. He has been playing the violin for 28 years and prefers classical and Scottish music. Over the years he has assembled an impressive collection of 17 violins, including one that dates back to the eighteenth century.
– June 30, 2008