Tales of Gruffman, 18x24 inches oil on canvas panel by Kenney Mencher


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This gentleman probably isn't gentle but he is a MAN. This original painting is designed to compliment his rough masculine hairy body. I've cropped down on to the figure so that the most compelling, interesting or appealing elements are highlighted: his beard, chest hair and his abdomen. I've also made the figure kiss the edges of the composition to make it more active.

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.

I use a compositional device called the "rule of thirds." The rule of thirds is a guideline for both artists and photographers. It says that if you divide your composition into thirds, either vertically or horizontally, and then place focal areas of your scene at the meeting points of them, you will get a more pleasing arrangement and layout for your compositions.

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.

The paint is very think and this allows me to use the reverse end of the brush and pencils to etch hair into the paint surface. 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.
unities first developed, but also in rural areas.

Information about the artist Kenney Mencher.

Teachers' group removes professor's suggestive art by Monique Beeler

Staff Writer Oakland Tribune also published in the Fremont Argus
Friday April 23, 2004

Hat in hand, the man in a suit and tie stands next to a pile of what appear to be library books, but his gaze isn't fixed on anything academic. What catches his eye is the blonde seated behind the desk in a provocative pose that reveals her black garters and well-toned legs.

Reference Desk oil on canvas 48"x60"

To the artist, Kenney Mencher, an associate professor of art and art history at Ohlone College in Fremont, the painting presents an uncertain scenario each viewer is invited to interpret individually.

To employees at a state building in Sacramento, it was artwork that made them uneasy and didn't belong near their work space.

Along with work by two other artists, Mencher's paintings went on display April 9 in an informal exhibition of teachers' artwork at the California State Teachers' Retirement System offices. One work day later on April 12, four of Mencher's paintings were removed after several employees complained.

"Some of them are rather risqué,” says Kirsten Macintyre, a spokeswoman for CalSTRS. "There's one of a woman sitting at a desk with her skirt hiked up and her garter showing, and there's a man staring at her. It's suggestive and it's not appropriate for a state workplace."

The department policy prohibits the ". . . displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters."

Mencher says he doesn't disagree about the removal of this painting, called "Reference Desk." or another canvas called "Macys" in which two women face each other through a doorway. One is seen from behind in a camisole-style top, while the second, wearing a bra, turns toward her.

Macys, oil on canvas 36" x 36"

But Mencher, 39, a Palo Alto resident, says he's mystified about the removal of two other paintings, one of two boys playing with water shooting from an uncapped fire hydrant and a scene of a svelte young woman in a sleeveless dress and heels standing beside the passenger door of a car.

Mencher says he strives to depict subjects with ambiguous meanings, something like an artistic Rorschach test in which the viewer examines ink splotches to decipher underlying significance.

"My feeling is if women feel uncomfortable with (these paintings), they're definitely bringing their own baggage to it," Mencher says.

Painting in a realist tradition reminiscent of illustration work of the 1950s, Mencher says he often gleans inspiration from the era's films and magazines.

Hydrant, oil on canvas 48"x60"

And while he says his work is popular with many viewers and has sold well in recent years, this isn't the first time his choice of subject has sparked controversy. His three-year relationship with HANG Art gallery in San Francisco came to an end in November over similar issues.

"His work started to go in a direction that didn't feel like a match for the gallery,” HANG Art Director Michelle Townsend says. "It was clear he wanted to take his work beyond what the staff was comfortable with."

Townsend calls the parting with Mencher amicable. Representing an artist and his work well, she says, calls for enthusiasm from gallery staff members, something that had diminished among HANG Art employees, most of whom are women.

There is a frankness to Mencher's work that Townsend calls unabashed.

"There's a cheesy side to all of our fantasies that Kenney is interested in, and as consequence, some of (his paintings) are funny and overt," she says.

Personally, Townsend says, she supports Mencher's artistic drive and encourages him to "go crazy in whatever direction he wants to go." But if she had been the curator of the Sacramento exhibition, she would have been more conservative in choosing which of Mencher's paintings to show.

There are several ways a curator could approach such situation, says Mitchell Schwarzer, chair of visual studies at California College of the Arts.

"What often happens in museums or galleries, they'll put a warning (in the) wall text: 'The work has adult content that is sexual or violent,' "Schwarzer says.

Viewers should be forewarned, he says, when they're about to encounter challenging artwork.

"It's very much like when you go to the movies,” Schwarzer says. "The rating system is letting people know that they're getting into."

"No one should be forced to view potentially offensive art in their place of employment, but neither should art be banished from the work place altogether," he says. Where space allows, Schwarzer suggests placing controversial pieces in a separate room accompanied by a warning label.

It's a tactic, that would allow the public to choose whether to view the art, while remaining respectful toward the artist and his work.

Whenever art is incorporated into public spaces, controversy is bound to follow, particularly as viewers become more vocal about what they will and won't tolerate, Schwarzer says.

"By and large, controversy is good for the artist." he says. "The work enters into a public discourse and (creates) publicity for the artist."

That's already proven true for Mencher, who has received inquiries from several galleries interested in displaying his paintings. He has no intention of taming his future work.

"It made me feel good that people had such strong reactions to it,” Mencher says. "Maybe I've got my finger on something that ought to be scratched."

You can e-mail Monique Beeler at mbeeler [!at] angnewspapers.com or call (925) 416-4860

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
Ratings and Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5
Many thanks . Great shipping and and came with a personalized note and a bonus painting . Love Kenney and his wonderful art .

Rated 5 out of 5
Shipped much faster than expected! As always, Kenney’s work is stunning and captures the male figure in such a beautiful way. I bought the figure drawing on the right (an original piece of his) and this print complimented it so well.

Rated 5 out of 5
Absolutely beautiful! Amazingly beautiful, thank you!

Rated 5 out of 5
Arrived quickly and well packaged. This is my second purchase from this artist--very pleased again!

Rated 5 out of 5

Rated 5 out of 5
Great quality. Item as described. Expectations exceeded!

Rated 5 out of 5
Great quality. Item as described. Expectations exceeded!

Rated 5 out of 5
Great quality. Item as described. Expectations exceeded!

Rated 5 out of 5
Another incredible piece of artwork in my home from the talented and kind Kenney Mencher! I am so pleased to have added this to my collection of work from him, and he is such a delight to interact with. I highly recommend his work!

Rated 5 out of 5
Even more beautiful in person! Amazing artist!!!

Rated 5 out of 5
As usual, Kenney's artwork is warm AND hot. I love the piece and it looks better in person than on the screen. Thanks!

Rated 5 out of 5
Amazing painting! Thank you! I love it!

Rated 5 out of 5
Nice price of art. Thanks.

Rated 5 out of 5
So happy I was able to purchase this treasure. Great addition to my collection. Marvelous artist.

Rated 5 out of 5
Fantastic art and artist. Love.

Rated 5 out of 5
Very nice quality and great artist.

Rated 5 out of 5
Fantastic! Great artist. Collected his art for years. Postcards make it fun to share with others.

Rated 5 out of 5
Another amazing painting to add to my Kenney Mencher collection. I look forward to getting it framed and adding it to my gallery wall.

Rated 5 out of 5
I bet the original is amazing, I’m happy to have a copy for my wall. It’s great.

Rated 5 out of 5
Kenny is the best! Love his work and he’s as kind as he is talented!

Rated 5 out of 5
I love, love, LOVE this painting! Thank you Kenney!

Rated 5 out of 5
Beautiful art! I can’t believe I own it. Both paintings look even better in person. The piece “Vacation” Is larger than described (almost 6’ tall rather than the 5’ listed). Communication was fantastic, shipping was smooth, and delivery went off without a hitch. Seller included some small prints and documentation before the paintings could be shipped and also sent a personalized water color in advance. Thank you, Kenney!

Rated 5 out of 5
Lovely print from Kenney Mencher. My only regret is not having been able to purchase the original!

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