What does this art pair with? Q&A on Rehoboth woman's wine and beer painting
Whether it’s David Bowie with beer splashed across his face or a sleepy image of Joe Biden, Kim Klabe’s artwork leaves an impression. Especially because she creates her work using beer and wine.
Klabe, 56, of Rehoboth Beach, has been using libations to create art since 2017. She doesn’t even sketch to plan out her drawings. Klabe just pours beer or wine onto watercolor paper. Then she uses a marker to rein in “the happy chaos of the pour,” Klabe said, adding her style encourages her to believe she can’t make any mistakes using this technique.
“Three eyes and 12 fingers are actually quite the norm. The pours cause people to look, to reflect, to think and, yes, to laugh,” she said.
Klabe has a new virtual exhibit of her whimsical pours in a show called “Pours: Feelings of an Almost Human Nature” at the Mezzanine Gallery in Wilmington. The show ends Jan. 8 and features pieces inspired by music. Her pieces are named after songs or albums. For instance, there's one depicting David Bowie titled “Young American.”
Where did the idea of your pours originate?
There are so many great artists out there and there are particularly so many great painters that there’s a tremendous amount of competition. I had gotten to the point where I’d grown tired of just being another oil painter or watercolor painter in a sea of other painters at a show. Sometimes you could go through a whole weekend of an art show and sell only one or two pieces because there are so many choices. I was about to give up on the whole show thing. I thought I’m just going to mess around and try to get some of this angst out.
My husband gave me a set of artist markers and I said, “That’s so cool. I haven’t used markers since art school. I want to play around with these.” I want some watercolor paper. I started thinking, “You know what would look really cool on this bright white watercolor paper? Red wine.” So I poured some red wine and swirled it around. Then I let it sit there. I figured I was basically doodling and no one would see what I was doing. I did one called “No Collusion,” of course because that was in the news at the time.
I did one that was a crazy-looking ostrich and it was called “State of the Union.” I was just playing around. I put them on Facebook because I felt they were timely and all of them sold right away. I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty cool.” It tied into what I was saying: It was unique enough that people responded to it, and I can stand out in a sea of other artists because what I do is so different. From the moment those pieces sold, I put away my oil paints.
There’s a piece featuring Donald Trump titled “Come Tomorrow.” What’s the story behind that one?
Dave Matthews has a song called “Come Tomorrow.” It’s basically about children leading the way. He put that out when all of the school shootings were really off the hook. It’s a really touching, poignant kind of song. If you look at that pour, it depicts a very abstract Trump. The only thing I think that indicates it’s Trump is that little flash of orange hair. If you notice up in the corner, there’s a guy with a nightcap and that’s Joe Biden, because he kept calling him “sleepy Joe.” I was thinking I can work with that because he calls him sleepy Joe. I looked at it as if Joe was up there snoozing until the time is right. If you look above the evil face, you’ll see the planet and you’ve got people coming together holding hands over top of Trump. He’s being surrounded and it fits with the song.
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How did you start adding beer to your work?
You can do pours with anything that leaves a stain. You could do this with coffee or soy sauce. But you couldn’t use white wine or Miller Lite, because they’re too light in color and they wouldn’t show up on the white paper. I was thinking that not everyone drinks wine, but there’s a lot of people who drink beer. So I bought a bottle of Guinness, but I don’t really like dark beer. I tried that and said, “Well, hell, that works, too.” That’s how that got started. They’re two entirely different looks. Of course, the beer is brown, so it gives you a different feeling from the browns and the reds of the wine. Because some people are beer drinkers, they’d rather have a beer pour, or vice versa.
What was your reaction after Biden won the election?
I made a fool of myself in front of my husband. I danced a little, cried a little, hooted and hollered a little. I met Beau Biden years ago and I remember when Biden had the car accident, because I was in the car with my mom and she was all upset because his wife and daughter died. As a kid, you know how you didn’t understand the gravity of something, but you know how your parents are responding to it, so you know it’s something serious? That’s how it was for me. I didn’t know who this guy was, but mom’s really upset about it. He’s always been part of Delaware, so I think that’s super cool; and I love Kamala [Harris].
‘Pours: Feelings of an Almost Human Nature’
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