Lowtide, 18x24 inches oil on canvas panel by Kenney Mencher

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A painting of a thot "bear" bottomed man standing in the water of in the ocean or a lake. His muscular back and pale ass cheeks are facing the viewer while he casts an inviting almost sardonic look over his shoulder. He stands in a seascape drenched in light against a blue sky and green and blue waters.

This male portrait of a very masculine sexy hairy man is an original painting. I mainly make art about gay bears and other types of art for the queer community. A lot of my art revolves around the portrayal of heroic older bearish or bullish men. In my paintings I'm trying to communicate about body positivity and the beauty of the heroic male "bear."

Many straight folks are unaware of the bear subculture. Hardly a surprise, since a powerful majority rarely concerns itself with the doings of a marginalized minority. When, three or four years ago, I first mentioned bears to my straight friends, none of them knew what I was talking about, though by now at least one of them calls me “The Bear.” Similarly, my heterosexual students, as expert as they might be on current media, seem equally ignorant about this topic.

Most GLBT folks, however, by now seem to know the basics. A “bear” is a hairy, bearded, brawny-to-bulky gay man, usually displaying aspects of traditional masculinity. A cub is a younger version of the same; a wolf is a lean, hairy man; an otter a young version of that. “Woof!” is a lustful expression, meaning essentially: “Tasty! I’d like to climb all over that!” “Grrrrr!” means much the same. As you can see, after twenty-some years of development, the bear community, like any subculture, has its own jargon, sometimes called “bearspeak” or “vocabulary.” It also has its own values, its own style, and its own commodities. There are bear-oriented bars, festivals, music, movies, magazines, and books. There are regional clubs for bears not only in metropolitan centers, where the communities first developed, but also in rural areas.

This painting was done in the "alla prima" method. The alla prima is an Italian phrase that means 'at first attempt'. It refers to a wet-on-wet approach whereby wet paint is applied to previous layers of still-wet paint, often in a single sitting. Over the years, the technique has been adopted and adapted by artists from Van Gogh to Velázquez.

In particular I try to approach painting in several ways, I want the drawing skills, color, and anatomy to be accurate but I also try to make the compositions more interesting by avoiding a “bull’s eye” (symmetrical) composition in favor of a more exciting slightly off center or “asymmetrical” composition. Using a compositional rule called the "rule of thirds."

The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two thirds more open. While there are other forms of composition, the rule of thirds generally leads to compelling and well-composed shots.

I’m also attempting to work with brush work and thick and thin paint in a more stylized and calligraphic way. I want the paint to be thickest where the light is the brightest and thinner in the darker areas. The direction of the brush strokes is meant to follow and amplify the contours of the forms and make it feel more tangible.

The subject matter of most of my work is usually blatantly homoerotic or at the very least queer. I’m trying to ally with other queer and gay creators in representing people who are often marginalized by the rest of the world and make art that speaks to a community that often is silenced.

Information about the artist Kenney Mencher.

I was born in Brooklyn February of 1965. During much of my childhood I lived in Brooklyn, the Bronx, upstate NY, Sarasota, Florida and Manhattan. (Both my mother and father divorced and remarried.) The real hero of my childhood is my older brother Marc who literally changed my diapers, acted as my protector and as my role model.

I started to learn to paint and draw when I was six or seven years old and was convinced that I would be an artist from that age on.

As a teen at the High School of Art and Design I got my best training in Irwin Greenberg’s class where he taught me how to draw, oil paint and watercolor. I also attended classes at the Cooper Union and Art Students League.

My parents threw me out in my senior year of high school, so I earned my GED and worked construction on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was a rough time but my older brother and his partner Kirk rescued me by inviting me to move with them to Cincinnati, Ohio to live and study. While a college student, I worked in restaurants and painted as much as I could. After a year at the University of Cincinnati, I went back to the Bronx where I finished college at CUNY Lehman. Lehman is a fantastic college.

After completing my undergraduate studies, I lived in California and then Ohio completing my two masters’ degrees in Art History and Studio Art. After school I was lucky enough to have dual careers as an exhibiting artist and tenured professor.

In 2014 I began to work on paintings with a strong homoerotic content. Despite excellent sales and well received shows, the galleries I worked with wouldn’t show my new queer work, so I’ve been successfully working mainly directly with my collectors. This change has freed me and allowed me to focus on themes and subjects that, in the past, were rejected or resulted in censorship.

Things are going great! In 2016, after eighteen years of teaching art history and studio courses, I resigned a tenured professorship to pursue painting full time.

1993-1995 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
MFA Painting

1991-1994 University of California, Davis, CA
MA Art History

1988-1991 City University of New York, Bronx, NY
Magna Cum Laude; BA Art History

1988 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

1981-1985 Art Students' League, Manhattan, NY

1978-1982 Art & Design High School, Manhattan, NY

1999-2016 Associate Professor of Art & Art History, Ohlone College, Fremont, CA

1998-1999 Instructor of Art History & Western Civilization, San Francisco University High School

1996-1998 Assistant Professor of Art & Art History, Texas A&M University, Laredo, TX


2021 Lone Star Saloon, San Francisco, CA
It’s All About the Bears

2016 Tracy Center for the Arts, Tracy, CA
The Convict and the Boy, A Graphic Novel and Installation by Kenney Mencher with publication edited by the artist.

2012 Ohlone College, Fremont, CA
Renovated Reputations: Paintings, Installation and Mixed Media by Kenney Mencher with publication edited by the artist.

2012 Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Renovated Reputations: Paintings, Installation and Mixed Media by Kenney Mencher with publication edited by the artist.
2012 Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
Renovated Reputations: Paintings, Installation and Mixed Media by Kenney Mencher with publication edited by the artist.

2012 Art Museum of Los Gatos, Los Gatos, CA
Renovated Reputations: Paintings, Installation and Mixed Media by Kenney Mencher with publication edited by the artist.

2011 ArtHaus Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Renovated Reputations: Paintings, Installation and Mixed Media by Kenney Mencher with publication edited by the artist.

2008 Sequential Art Gallery, Portland, OR
Cads and Coquettes

2008 Varnish Fine Art, San Francisco, CA
Lovers and Liars

2007 Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Faces and Farces

2007 Gallery 2611, Redwood City, CA
Clichés and Characters

2006 Klaudia Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Kenney Mencher: Recent Work

2006 Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Apperceptions and Allegories

2006 Norton Studio Gallery, Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, CA
Being There

2006 Esteban Sabar Gallery, Oakland, CA
Similes and Sayings

2005 Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Hamlettes on Wry

2005 Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Mountain View, CA
2004 Louie-Meager Art Gallery, Gary Soren Smith Center, Ohlone College, Fremont, CA
Dress Code
2004 STRS Gallery, Sacramento, CA

1997 Laredo Center for the Arts, Laredo, TX
Noir Images (Solo Show)


2011 ArtHaus Gallery, San Francisco, CA
The Men's Room

2010 Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Go Figure

2010 ArtHaus Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2009 ArtHaus Gallery, San Francisco, CA
In Black and White: Monochromatic Paintings by Kenney Mencher and Caroline Meyer

2008 Art Museum of Los Gatos, CA
Sex, Politics and Misogyny, Peter Langenbach and Kenney Mencher

2006-07 Klaudia Marr, Santa Fe, NM
14th Annual Realism Invitational
13th Annual Realism Invitational

2006 Triton Art Museum, Santa Clara, CA
Beyond the Likeness: Self Portraits by California Artists

2003 Hang Gallery Palo Alto, CA
One More Thing Before I Go

1999 Jenkins-Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA
First Annual Realism Invitational

2001 Craighead-Green, Dallas, TX
Kenney Mencher and Connie Connally

1998 Jenkins-Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Small Works

1998 Jenkins-Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Nancy Switzer, Milt Kobayashi, and Kenney Mencher

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