Artist Crush: Brad Kahlhamer

Brad Khalhamer

I feel like I can more accurately refer to Brad Kahlhamer as an artist crush since I’ve actually met him, had lunch with him, heard him lecture, etc. (one of the many perks of my fellowship is meeting world renowned artists.)

“Brad Kahlhamer fuses an exuberant embrace of expressionist painting with the visionary tradition of Native American art. Drawing from country western and the Native American rock music scene, the artist’s visionary landscapes swirl with an atavistic energy; the paintings seem to have a sound that accompanies their visual rhythm.” (read more here)

As soon as his piece (see first image below) made its way into the gallery, I was Immediately intrigued. Brad works in an almost comic bookish style to create narrative works. Brad is Native American but was adopted and raised by German parents, a lot of his work has to do with being in between these two cultures. I won’t discuss the themes in his work, too much, I think his work speaks for itself. If these images interest you, take a look at his website.

What draws me to his work is his constant play on iconography, which can sometimes be seen as controversial. I love the contrast between the light, delicate washes of watercolor and these dark, crazy, dynamic lines that literally link parts of his paintings together. Lately I’ve been playing around with watercolor, a medium I never really liked, just because of  his work. I also love, love, love his use of text and script that he uses.

“East of Mesa East, A 55 Plus Community”

Other ones that I love:

‘Montana Super Host’, 22″x30″, Watercolor & Ink on Paper, 2005

Note how he handles the crazy hair on this one,  and how he leaves white space between the blocks of flesh color on the neck and chest. It could be that I’ve always hated watercolor and guache, but I’ve never thought about using it that way. I’m always over blending and over working and making my colors muddy.

‘American Spirits USA’, 42.5″x60″, Watercolor & Ink on Paper, 2005

How many faces to you see in this one? I love how he painted the woman’s semi – transparent tights so you can see the flesh tone through them.

Brad Kahlhamer: Almost American [Paperback

This is the cover of his catalogue, click the image for more information from

‘Bowery Nation’, Studio Installation View, Mixed Media, 1985-2010

Kachina Dolls. Pretty sweet! If you don’t know anything about Kachina Dolls do a quick google search and read up!


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