Thursday, January 8, 2009

Local Spotlight: Gideon Kendall

Meet Gideon Kendall. For the past 15 years he has been working as an artist, illustrator, animation designer, and musician in Brooklyn. His impressive list of accomplishments include illustrating a slew of books ("Dino Pets", "Littlebat's Halloween Story", "The Caveman's Pregnancy Companion"), TV Production Design ("Pepper Ann", "The Kids Next Door") and playing in various bands in and around Brooklyn. We had an opportunity to speak with Gideon and ask him a bit about his life, work, and living in Kensington.
How long have you lived in Kensington, and do you plan to stay here?
My wife (Julie Peppito) and I traded in our Park Slope co-op for our Kensington house two years ago. Barring environmental or economic apocalypse, or a professorship at an art school in a nice college town, we will never leave.
What types of things do you typically create?
Children's books, Comic Strips, Drawings, and Songs.
Do you have a particular piece of which you are the most proud?
First and foremost would be my son Milo (right), who is almost six months old. Every day I am overjoyed, overwhelmed, flabbergasted and exhausted by him. As far as illustration, Dino Pets (written by Lynn Plourde, Dutton, 2007) is my best published work so far. The sequel, Dino Pets at School, comes out next year. I have written and illustrated my own picture book, You're It!, about a group of kids who turn into monsters when they play tag, that I'm very excited about. I'm looking for a publisher. In terms of fine art, I've been working for several years on a series of very detailed black and white drawings. Although I think they have been progressing well, I am still most proud of a relatively early one that is a portrait of me and my wife Julie (left). Musically, my new band The Ditty Committee is just getting off the ground. We've written some nice songs, though, and you can hear demos. The musical project I am most proud of, is in fact a Musical. My old band Fake Brain wrote and performed a ridiculous multimedia rock opera which we performed in a limited run at Bowery Poetry Club in 2005. (watch a clip).
Do you have a favorite artist or one who has influenced you the most?
In my formative years it would be a 7-way tie between Dr. Seuss, Robert Crumb, Rembrandt, B. Kliban, MC Escher, Marvel Comics & Durer. Currently, I'd have to say my wife Julie (, followed by Dave Cooper, Jacek Yerka, Artsybasheff & Mark Ryden. Musically, I grew up with an odd mixture of Devo, Bob Dylan, hardcore punk, early hip hop, Pink Floyd, Gang of 4 & MX80 Sound. Currently I listen to Randy Newman, Grandaddy, The Hives, Momus, The Divine Comedy & GBV. Also, I'm slowly developing an appreciation of jazz and ragtime.
Do you draw any inspiration from the neighborhood?
Absolutely. In Dino Pets, all of the houses and scenery are based on Ditmas Park. In Kensington there is so much to wonder at: I am fascinated by the gaudy silver and gold fences and the fortress-like brick fronts that some have chosen to gird their humble homes with. I have also sampled most of the unpronounceable eastern European and Russian beers that are available. I draw strength from the delicious tacos available from various purveyors, as well as from the spicy chickpeas and nan at Madina. Being an artist and a musician has been made so much easier with the magical K-town perks of basement, driveway, attic and garage.
Does your music influence your artwork and vice versa? How so?
I don't know about influence, but I would say that both my art and music are concerned with the same things: body parts and fluids, the innate wierdness of existence, the horror and beauty of nature, and the stupidity, cruelty and occasional loveliness of human beings.
Finally, is there anything you'd like to plug?
I think I've plugged my various enterprises quite thoroughly already in this interview, so I'll just say this: Kensington Blog rules!
Thanks, Gideon. You can find out more about Gideon's various endeavors at his website. If you know someone you'd like to see spotlighted here, let us know! Drop a line to the address at the top right. You know you want to.