Accepting Commissions Since 1972
International artist finds painting career

Kenneth Turner, Image by:Jacob Truchard

The Citizen features an internationally known painter in this week's installment of the Local Artist Series.

Ken Turner, of New Ulm, began drawing pictures with several figures early in his childhood at the age of four and grew up listening to classical music. He has been a professional artist for nearly 40 years.

"My mother studied opera in Europe," Turner said. "I was the school artist wherever we went. At Johnson Junior High in Houston, they had me draw portraits of all the school principals."

During his youth, he drew constantly in class and developed the ability to listen while drawing.

"I was painting in oil by the age of eight," Turner said. "Painting in oil is second nature to me."

As a teenager, Ken produced a mural for Westbury High School in Houston. He later received the Westbury High School Art Scholarship Award in 1966 and the Conservative Arts Scholarship Award in 1968-71.

Ken was the first undergraduate in the history of the University of Houston to achieve this distinguished accomplishment.

"My senior sculpture was erected on campus, the first undergraduate in the history of the University of Houston to be so honored," Turner said.

After graduating with a BFA, he taught figure sculpture at Houston in 1972 and painting for the Art League of Houston from 1973-74.

When asked what artists inspired him through the years, the first that came to mind was Hungarian artist Lajos Markos.

"He not only completed my training but helped launch my career by introducing art dealers to me," Turner said.

During the 1970s, Turner's paintings were part of an exhibition of young American artists in Geneva, Switzerland in 1975.

Turner's "Decision at the Alamo," painted in 1986, was displayed at the Texas State Capitol for the Sesquicentennial.

Turner and his family moved to the small community of New Ulm in 1989. He paints in his studio located at his home.

"All but one of our seven children attended Columbus schools," Turner said. "My wife Nell and I attended uncountable athletic events in which our sons David, John, Joshua and Matthew participated. Our daughters Sarah and Michelle were involved in Columbus school activities as well."

He added that his wife, Nell, is also a past president of the Columbus Garden Club.

During the 1990s, Turner played a key role in the local art center in Columbus.

"I was President of the LOAC (Live Oak Art Center) in 1992, and exhibit chair in 1993," Turner said. "Exhibits included paintings from the David and Eula Wintermann collection, Retablos and paintings from the Meadows Museum, Pre Columbian collection and African collection from Ishtar International, and art from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer collection."

He also said that two of his sons completed Eagle Scout projects for the LOAC.

Turner co-founded the first New Ulm Art Festival in 2000 with Houston Art Professor David Hickman. During that festival, Turner got to meet Mark A. Chapman when he visited Turner's studio.

"He came to my studio for pointers," Turner said. "We became good friends and decided to try an art gallery."

Together they opened the Turner/Chapman Gallery, which featured pieces from both artists, and included Christian and Texas originals.

"It was too constrictive on my time and we closed in 2008," Turner said.

Turner is proud of his painting, "Out of the Ashes," which is dedicated as a memorial to 9/11. He said that it is an honor that Giclées of the painting currently hang in such locations as the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, as well as the New York Police Department Museum, Port Authority Headquarters in New York, Fire Department of New York, the office of the Governor of New York, Reagan National Airport and the office of Harris County Emergency Management.

"The response of the actual rescuers to my painting was very gratifying," Turner said.

Over the years, along with President George H. Bush and his wife Barbara, Turner's artwork has found official recognition from Texas Governor Rick Perry, New York Governor George Pataki and the NYPD, former Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, former Oilers Coach Bum Phillips and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, to name a few. Eckels commissioned Turner's original bronze sculpture, "Texas Justice".

Ishtar International in the Galleria in Houston has represented Turner and his artwork for the past 37 years.

"Raju Rashia on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif. represents me as well," Turner continued. "Galleries were willing to purchase my entire production as early as 1978. However, at this time, I am commissioned out by individuals."

Turner continues to fill commissions from his home studio in New Ulm.

"My customers come from all over the world," Turner said. "How grateful I am for the hundreds of clients who have made my career as a professional artist a reality."

After five decades of developing a career as a working artist, and having expectations raised higher and higher through every commission, Turner said such expectations never get to him.

"I never have anxiety while working on my artwork," Turner said.

He said, however, that whenever he is working on a commission or a personal piece, he gives it his best, no matter how long it takes.

He also pays exquisite attention to detail, making sure to be historically accurate in his work and to portray Jesus and disciples with as much distinct authenticity as possible.

Turner said that in the artistic period known as "the Renaissance" there was very little information available about Ancient Israel and artists painted what they knew.

"Research and discoveries of the last 100 years give a clearer picture of the culture and times of Jesus," Turner said. "I like to incorporate this into my paintings. Our concept of Biblical scenes is based on artists' concepts created 1,500 years after the event depicted."

Along with having his artwork showcased across the country and worldwide, Giclées of his paintings can be found locally as well. His "Reflection I " which depicts the Stafford Opera House and a "ghostly" carriage nearby can be found in the Columbus Community Hospital and the Holiday Inn Express, while his portrait of the late, local historian and former Nesbitt Memorial Library Director Bill Stein can be found in the Bill Stein Texas Room at the library.

Local author and artist Mark A. Chapman said that he was never formally trained in art until he met Turner and they became instant friends.

"He was a very gentle teacher who taught me all the basics," Chapman said. "I learned quite a bit as I went along."

Local artist Dr. Robert Lowe has referred to Turner as a great teacher and one of the most talented artists he has ever had the privilege of witnessing.

"I first met Ken in the early 1990s when he would paint at the Live Oak Art Center," Lowe said. "I was so impressed with his historical paintings and the fact that he would work portraits of the patron that had commissioned the painting, his family or friends, into his composition.

He added that Turner's frequent use of ghost images is also such a unique feature of his paintings.

"Ken's superb training, which includes a Fine Arts degree from the U of H, and his five years of painting under the master Hungarian portrait artist, Lajos Markos, have made him into one of America's finest painters," Lowe said. "It is truly inspirational to local artists to have a painter of his talent living in our community."

Check upcoming editions of The Citizen for the next installment of the Local Artist Series.

Ref. The Colorado Count Citizen January 14, 2014
Represented in California
Raju Rasiah
332 North Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills Ca 90210
310 278 4367
Studio and Gallery
741 Walnut
New Ulm Texas 78950
by appointment only
979 733 0400
Represented in Houston
Ishtar International
5075 Westheimer Suite 950
The Galleria
Houston Texas 77056
713 960 9460
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