Early on I knew that I wanted to be an artist.

In my head big plans formed: go to art school, build a dream studio, live the free life of an artist,

fully immersed  in my craft – pushing the envelope.

It hasn’t been quite so simple as that – it’s true what they say: there aren’t many straight lines in nature…

My mom taught us to draw – and I quickly learned that if you could draw, you had power.

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When I was ten years old, 1967, my school awarded me a scholarship to the

La Jolla Museum of Art –  Summer Art School.

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We made big, colorful pop-art cutouts and wild plaster/wood assemblages.

I can still remember the crisp ocean light pouring across large tables of artist materials – one in particular – a box of doll eyes, that closed when you tilted them back – like they were going to sleep.

All that art is lost now, but I filled my pockets with those magic sleeping eyes,

and I still have some!

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That scholarship sealed my growing identity as an artist.

All through Jr High and High School, I took as many art classes as I could, and entered various community art exhibitions – Like my dad, I loved making things with my hands.

I think the first time I showed artwork in an exhibition, must have been in Jr. High, around 1970 – a student art show.

Early high school, I set up a studio in the backyard and made candles – (My first attempt to make money from art).

After that came stained glass – around 1975.

A demanding yet rewarding medium, I made hundreds of windows for buildings all around Southern California.

And I began entering this glasswork into a variety of local art fairs, getting my first taste of that lifestyle.

 

Early marriage nixed art school, (but not the art!).

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Around 1983, I dove into large scale watercolor and greatly expanded participation in juried art fairs.

Freed from the long hours of labor needed to make Stained glass,

speeded my education in image making.

Being so hands-on, the art fairs really suited me – one giant puzzle to solve!

Carpentry, electrical, promotional materials, framing, sales and

making the best artwork I could possibly make.

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Over three decades, I traveled through several mediums, from glass, to painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpting – maturing as an artist.

Art fairs:

2014 – Tempe Festival of the Arts -Tempe, AZ – Juried Exhibition

2013 – Fountain Hills Art Festival – Fountain Hills, AZ – Juried

2007-2013 – Winter Fantasy Art Festival – Laguna Beach, CA

2007-2013 – Sawdust Art Festival – Laguna Beach, CA

2012 – Art at the Domain – Austin, TX – Juried Exhibition

2011 – Indian Wells Art Festival – Indian Wells, CA – Juried Exhibition

1984 – 2001 – Festival of Arts – Laguna Beach, CA – Juried Exhibition

1985-2001 – Beverly Hills Art Show – Beverly Hills CA – Juried Exhibition

1987 – 1997 – La Quinta Arts Festival – La Quinta, CA – Juried Exhibition

Gallery exhibitions:

2006 – Jack Flynn Gallery – Costa Mesa, CA – Invitational Exhibition

2000 & 2001 – Platinum Gallery – Aliso Viejo, CA – Solo Shows

1998 – Edward Giardina Contemporary – Santa Ana, CA – Invitational 

1997 – The Billy Graham Center Museum – Wheaton, IL – Invitational

1991 – Sata Fine Art – Costa Mesa, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1989 – Municipal Art Gallery – Los Angeles, CA – Juried Exhibition

1989 – Biola University Art Gallery – La Habra, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1986 – Meridian Gallery – Newport Beach CA – “Ken Mattson” – Solo Show

1984 – Deicas Art Gallery – La Jolla, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1983 – Seimon Gallery, Santa Ana CA – Invitational Exhibition

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And of course, several studio shows.

 

The deep pleasure of making art for me, is in the journey,

because it opens new horizons.

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So commission work can be a challenge – there are always tight limits – time frames, subject matter,

you can’t just follow the muse. But, they were great “On-the-Job-Training”!

(and I had a family to support), so I took on a lot of commission work.

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Here’s an example:

Late one afternoon, a regular client, (for my watercolors), called me, to ask if I could paint a sixteen foot oil painting for the entry of their restaurant, (They didn’t know that I  had never painted in oils before). Another artist had dropped out, and they needed it right away. I said: “Let me call you back tomorrow”. I went to the store, bought some materials, learned to paint with oils that night, and took the job the next morning!

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It was usually like that – very high pressure – but I loved the thrills.

That’s how I learned to: oil paint, cast glass sculptures and carve large woodcuts!

 

…Of course, then there was that time I spent all night painting a mural for someone’s office that turned out so bad, I had to paint white over it the next day to restore the wall – all without any pay!

For fun, I began a collaboration with my (first), wife, making elaborate sculptures from found objects.

I didn’t consider these sculptures as personal to me, just fantastic opportunities to play and learn, so even though the inventive design and labor were easily half mine, this work was signed under her name – because they were meant to express her.

They were well received and collected, traveled the world in shows, and were highlighted in coffee table books like: The Art of Mosaic Design and The Artful Teapot.

We exhibited them here:

2006 – Dixon Gallery – Memphis, TN – Invitational Exhibition

2006 – Peabody Essex Museum – Salem, MA – Invitational Exhibition

2005 – Bellevue Art Museum – Bellevue, WA – Invitational Exhibition

2004 – Mint Museum of Craft & Design – Charlotte, NC –  Invitational 

2004 – Chicago Cultural Center – Chicago, IL – Invitational Exhibition

2003 – Rio Hondo College – Whittier, CA – Two Person Show

2003 – Long Beach Museum of Art – Long Beach, CA – Invitational Exhibition

2003 – Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art – Toronto, Canada – Invitational 

2002 – Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts – Montgomery, AL – Invitational 

2002 – COPIA – Napa, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1997 – 2001 – del Mano Gallery – Los Angeles, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1988 – 2001 – Laguna Beach Festival of Arts – Laguna Beach, CA Juried 

1988 – 2000 – Beverly Hills Art Show – Beverly Hills, CA – Juried Exhibition

2000 – Laguna Art museum – Laguna Beach, CA – Invitational Exhibition

2000 – Orange County Museum of Art – Newport Beach, CA – Juried 

1998 – Mill Valley Sculpture Garden – Mill Valley, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1998 – Cal State University – Northridge, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1997 – Craft and Folk Art Museum – Los Angeles, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1997 – Oakland Museum of Art – Newport Beach, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1997 – Orange County Museum of Art – Newport Beach, CA – Juried Exhibition

1996 – Garth Clark Gallery – New York, NY – Invitational Exhibition

1996 – Laguna Museum of Art – Laguna Beach, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1995 – Nancy Margolis Gallery – New York, NY – Invitational Exhibition

1995 – Gallery Eight – La Jolla, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1994 – Freehand Gallery, Los Angeles, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1994 – Ferrin Gallery – Northampton, MA – Invitational Exhibition

1994 – American Craft Show – W. Springfield, MA – Juried Exhibition

1994 – American Craft Show – San Francisco, CA – Juried Exhibition

1994 – Society for Contemporary Crafts – Pittsburgh, PA – Invitational Exhibition

1994 – Hope Street Gallery – Los Angeles, CA – Invitational Exhibition

1993 – Garth Clark Gallery – New York, NY – Invitational Exhibition

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Selected Collections:

Getty Foundation – San Francisco, CA

Warner Brothers – Los Angeles, CA

RCA Columbia Pictures, Los Angeles, CA

Landmark Tower – Tokyo, Japan

Marriott Inc. – Tahoe, CA

C.H.E. Inc. – New York, NY

Metropolitan Theaters – Palm Springs, CA

Betty Asher – Los Angeles, CA

Garth Clark – New York, NY

Mr. & Mrs. Sonny Kamm – Encino, CA

 

 

After that marriage, I moved to Arizona

with my two remaining sons and built that dream studio.

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So…

I went to a different sort of “school”,

(than the art school I had planned),

but I ended up where I aimed.

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Now I’m married to the best of women:

green eyed artist, Barbara Schuppe.

I’m in a great place – muscling down on my art,

focused on: oil painting, printmaking and drawing.

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And I’m making my best art right now.

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Ken Mattson

 

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