"Takin’ a Gamble: The Game-Board Art of Kalynn Campbell"
Club International (July 2001)
Wild pics, huh? Well, what else would you expect from someone raised in Jupiter? Okay, so this Jupiter’s in South Florida, not Outer Space – all the same, the way Kalynn Campbell tells it, it’s a freaky place. One look at the exuberant imagery of the man’s artworks, and it’s a crystal clear as a fortune-teller’s ball that he’s been heavily influenced by the town’s carnival and circus...
Speaking of his formative years, the artist says, "A fair came every year, and we’d go to all the freak tents, and we used to go to the drug shows. They were these morbid displays of old morgue shots of people that had OD-ed, and all the paraphernalia (they used). So whenever it came to town we’d all line up to go, ’cos it was so morbid. It was great, because it was so bizarre, and it showed a world that was from the hippie era, which, by the time I saw it in the early seventies, was pretty much gone. So it was a weird glimpse into the past, which was at the same time kind of exciting because it showed something you weren’t supposed to do – ‘This is what will happen to you...’"
A continually recurring image in Campbell’s work is that of the ultimate prankster, the Devil: "I guess that’s because it’s such a strong image. The Church didn’t play a part in my life at all, yet people reacted to the Devil in such a strong way that I knew this image had power beyond just a black line drawing. It evoked something within people that they were drawn to, or very repulsed by. So I kind of took it as a symbol of the power of art. I use it a lot and, for me, it also reflects that we all have those demons, we all have the side of us that tells us to, you know, overindulge, take a chance."
Yes, temptation and risk hold an abiding fascination for this man, and he expresses his taking-a-chance ethos in the game-board format of his pictures. For Campbell, it’s kind of a metaphor for life....
"I realized that in society, everything’s a game. Whether you’re dating, or you’re dining out, or you’re at the workplace, you’re always involved in some form of a game. So to reflect that in a painting, the best way was to create a game. I think basically it’s because people like to, or need to, have control of their lives at all times, and games are the one area where they feel safe in relinquishing control and they just give up to fate or chance, because it’s just a game. It’s interesting, because we always play games, but we don’t always acknowledge that we’re playing games."
An abundantly prolific artist, Campbell will continue to play his games "to the last roll of the dice, and the game’s over for me, checkmate."
Till then, he’s gonna keep throwing those lucky sevens.