Artist Happy Kuhn, unconventional and versatile, has splashed and dripped his trademark from New York to California, Mexico to Canada, Brazil to Santa Domingo and on world-wide television.
His work, which he calls "play" has drawn the attention, compliments and personal responses from notable figures like Ted Kennedy, George Bush, Gerald Ford, Mort Sahl, Jim McKay (ABC Sports), Maury Povitch (Metro Media), Mickey Mantle, Sam Irving, Arlo Guthrie and many others...
"His hand is sure...his perspective adept..."
Highly regarded contemporary art critic Benjamin Forgey wrote of Happy, "His hand is sure, his portraiture accurate, perspective adept..I like the way his broad brush flails around.."
Born in Washington D.C., 1942, Happy began his professional art career at age 15 as a quick sketch artist on TV, after reaching the national finals in the Disney Talent Roundup. At age 21, he studied with Raul Middleman (Maryland Art Institute), Gene Massin (Artist and professor, U of Miami) and Robert E. Kuhn, painter, sculptor, sire and confidant.
The White House ... Watergate ...The MacNeil/Lehrer Report
Happy cut his first "art teeth" in the mid-60's in Washington, D.C. with his innovative, life-size figures of sub-culture heroes painted on hundreds of old doors. During those years and in between one-man shows, Happy also freelanced in illustration, model-making, painting murals, designing logos, packages and exhibits for Eastern Airlines, Expo'67 World's fair, NASA and others.
In 1972, his full-figured "political portraits" caught the attention of NPACT/NET television producers who commissioned Happy to produce portraits for the animation sequence of the "MacNeil/Lehrer Report" (then Washington Straight Talk) of Watergate and other political figures. One of those portraits of Gerald Ford, was given to the then Congressman and later hung in his vice-presidential office.
Later that year, Happy's fourth one-man show was held at the Baraka Gallery, Les Champ Plaza in the Watergate complex. Noted for its hard-hitting political and social commentary, the controversial exhibit featured full-figured portraits of the impeachment committee anticipating an inevitable triumph
Lawn Paintings ... cows, clowns, totem poles, and more!
For the next several years Happy traveled the country designing sets, exhibits, conventions graphics, poster campaigns, and painting murals -- such as his five figurative wall murals (ala Arabian theme) in Florida and his exciting 4,000 square feet of murals for Bally, Inc. In recent years he has become known for his "lawn paintings" which add a new and unique dimension to landscapes.
"Nobody but billboard painters are using the great outdoors for two-dimensional display", says Happy. "So decks, patios, lawns and pool sides are vacant of real contemporary paintings -- of barnyard animals, clowns and icons -- are like small billboards without words, withstand the weather, are scaled for realism and make great conversation.
Speaking of conversation, the artist and father of eight has an interesting perspective on his lawn paintings. "My kids see them as animals and clowns...I see them as abstract shapes distinguished as animals and clowns...and that's what I like about painting...you reach different people in different ways."