The MacVittie College Union’s Kinetic Gallery is currently hosting “Spray Matters” by Joe Kubek. In its slogan, the exhibition promises “an eclectic collection of spray paint art”—and it does not disappoint. The gallery is lined with Kubek’s pieces, all simply framed in black. The pictures range in a myriad of different vibrant colors and subjects. Most predominantly, his pieces seem to depict different themes of nature juxtaposed with cityscapes.
Interestingly enough, almost every one of Kubek’s pieces seem to contain a sun or moon in the background—both acting as perfectly circular shapes that stand out amongst the various layers of commotion he paints. The circles appear to be created by a sort of stencil—a common technique used by spray paint artists.
Another reoccurring symbol is roosters, as there are two rooster paintings in the collection. One that caught my attention was an eerie green rooster painted with what looks like finger strokes for the feathers. The other rooster was gentler-looking, painted in an iridescent blue.
Kubek’s success of combining textures on the canvas is clear throughout his artwork. In one painting, he is able to combine the flat strokes of a finger in smudged paint alongside the harsh lines of direct untouched spray.
Another one of his works that caught my eye was his outer space piece. Kubek beautifully placed the celestial bodies of various planets against a deep black background with subtle sparkles. His distinct technique was applying a glossy sheen to each of his pieces, which gave each of his works a lustrous finish.
Kubek’s nature landscape pictures were particularly intriguing to me. The colors in the natural imagery jumped off of the walls. There seemed to be much more personality woven into them. It’s hard to believe that Kubek does not have professional artistic training.
What made Kubek stand out even more was his background. Before he began spray painting, Kubek worked as a stand-up comedian. In addition, he owned a whitewater rafting business and dabbled in advertising. Shortly after picking up the can, however, Kubek realized that spray painting was not only something that brought him pleasure, but also it was great for fundraising.
Kubek doesn’t just make art for fun—he has a cause. In the summer of 2009, his wife Lisa was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease that took away her ability away to talk, walk and use her hands. Portions of his art’s proceeds are donated to the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation to help those fighting the deleterious disease.
If you want to check out Kubek’s fascinating artwork and support his cause, the Kinetic Gallery is open Monday-Thursday until Oct. 16.