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Museum art series features unconventional artist

Posted on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

McKenney with his finished artwork.

Montross native Phil McKenney lets his creativity flow. His work will be exhibited at the Westmoreland County Museum starting Wednesday, April 19.

Montross native Phil McKenney’s eye-poppin’ art is the perfect way to start this year’s Westmoreland County Museum art show series. Pop n’ Art opens the 19th with an artist’s reception from 5 to 7 p.m. that includes a complimentary cheese and fruit platter, and soda pop for purchase with proceeds boosting the museum’s Wakefield Building new roof fund.
McKenney’s artistic style has been ever-evolving from the time he was a kid. He graduated from W&L High School in 1973 and studied drafting and design. To see his current work, it’s easy to understand that while the methodological and prescribed drafting foundered, his free-flowing, unpredictable design has flourished. His current style, “I decided is the real me, and I have to go with it,” he said. “You’ve got to make a decision to take a chance at some point in your life, and this work just flows out of me.”
He said that as an artist, he has struggled with being more conventional, “but that’s not me. When things just flow, that means I’m on the right track.”
“I call my current style JLL, for Jerry Lee Lewis, because I really caught fire with it about a year ago after reading a book on his life,” McKenney said. He put his impressions of Lewis into an abstract illustration portrait and since then has painted about 80 of these free-style, loose illustrations of people, places and things. The Museum exhibit will show 20 of them, including his take on the Old Jail building in Montross and Chandler’s Mill Hill west of town.
This style is not realistic. “If that’s what you want, go look at the subject for yourself,” he quipped, adding that he has been influenced by the work of Ralph Steadman, Jackson Pollock and even Mad magazine.

Read more in this week’s edition of the Westmoreland News.