Every first Friday of the month, the myriad art galleries on Penn Avenue in Garfield burst to life. Artists of all sorts fill seemingly any available space with paintings, sketches, photographs, sculptures, and much more. In one of these humble spaces, an artist well-acquainted with the city is showing a brand new series.
This March, D.S. Kinsel debuted his latest art collection, entitled “Nothing But Love.” This collection of paintings take varying shapes and forms, but are tied together with their mix of bright colors, and their use of texture.
“All the paintings are textured and shaped to create patterns,” Kinsel said.
Kinsel chose broadly relatable themes for this collection which, in his words, “[centers] on pop culture, bright colors, and familiar language.” Language is a major focal point in the work, with everyday phrases and quotes about love, created in brushstrokes, permeating the work.
“Most of the phrases come from hip-hop or other songs I enjoy,” Kinsel said.
Hearts, appropriately, are an oft-used motif throughout the collection, but with Kinsel’s own twist. Many hearts feature a face, with two “x” shapes for eyes and a frown. It gives the whole collection an enigmatic vibe, as if imploring viewers to search for their own interpretations of the symbolism.
“Nothing But Love” is not only an exhibition, but an art sale as well. Each piece is available for purchase, and Kinsel will be creating new work over the course of the three month exhibition.
“I’ll be rotating the show periodically so it gives people a different feel,” Kinsel said.
In addition, Kinsel will be hosting several events throughout the run of “Nothing But Love.” These events are intended to allow audiences to have unique opportunities to engage with both art and artist. These events will take place on April 5 and May 3 from 7-10 p.m., April 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and May 31 from 6-9 p.m.
Those familiar with Kinsel’s past work will notice a significant thematic difference, as his art usually deals with themes of racism and activism in the digital age.
“A lot of the work I’ve [created in the past] is focused on agitation and conflict,” Kinsel said. “My work often uses curse words and racial epithets, so it’s nice to do something different.”
For example, in 2016, Kinsel presented a collection of prints he created at the Andy Warhol Museum in an exhibit titled “What They Say, What They Said.” The content of the work was the collected responses of African-American men in Pittsburgh to the question, “What do the police say when they see you?,” as well as excerpts from then-President Barack Obama’s “Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing”. These quotes were then transformed into colorful screenprints by Kinsel, framed by silhouettes of police officers.
In the vein of creating art with political impact, Kinsel is also the co-founder of BOOM Concepts, a creative center that hosts art exhibitions, performance art pieces, and community gatherings. BOOM is dedicated to the advancement of black and brown artists from marginalized communities across America.
“At BOOM, I help to select artists to create partnerships with, in order to create opportunities for those artists inside and outside Pittsburgh,” Kinsel said.
Backed by the Heinz Endowments and the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, BOOM hosts art events throughout the year, both at their Penn Avenue home base, as well as around the city. They’ve partnered with artistic organizations such as Artist Image Resource and the Andy Warhol Museum in the Northside, as well the Carnegie Museum of Art. These events range from serious exhibitions like “What They Say, What They Said,” to playful and campy “puppet karaoke.”
Starting in 2017, BOOM began offering additional studio work space for local artists in the Allentown neighborhood. Through the BOOM Studio Artist Membership program, which allows artists a 24/7 workspace, complete with free wifi, audio/visual media support, woodshop, metalshop, and printshop. They also have access to the resources of New Sun Rising, a non-profit working to strengthen communities through grassroots organizing, for fiscal sponsorship and professional development.
Whether it’s his work at BOOM, or his many other projects across Pittsburgh, there’s no doubt that, for Kinsel, art is “Nothing But Love.”