Russ K. Kidd II

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Quick Facts
San Joaquin Delta College, 97, AA
mixed-media, surrealism, modern, figurative

Painter and craftsman R.K. Kidd II, of San Jose, has been creating works of art since he was a child. Kidd was inspired by his father, who taught him woodcarving, painting and sculpture. Much of Kidd’s work reflects his African-American heritage – primitive pottery, wooden sculptures of fertility goddesses and warriors, and his latest series of paintings honoring jazz musicians.  His current collection of acrylic on canvas paintings is titled “Music is Color; Color is Music.”

The series is a vibrant display of color. Each piece is a variation on a theme -- a saxophone player, who in the course of his playing has become one with his instrument.  In a sense, the saxophone player’s experience parallels Kidd’s own creative process as he brings music to life on his canvas. His subject, a faceless, sometimes bodiless, figure is transformed in each painting. Reminiscent of Picasso, at times the musician is a disfigured image existing only through the energy of the music.

“I wanted this collection to demonstrate my diversity as an artist,” Kidd said. “It is inspired by jazz, Blues & other forms music.”

Kidd’s artwork conveys a range of emotions from sadness to elation. Through the use of color and shapes, he is able to make music a visual as well as an auditory experience.  In some pieces, one can almost hear the deep sultry notes exuding from the canvas in blended shades. In others, music leaps from the painting in splashes of electrifying color.

For Kidd, the creative process is a powerful force from within that must be expressed.

“For me painting is like a hunger deep in my soul that needs to express itself. It’s a hunger to create that perfect piece, which you know you’ll never reach. It’s an energy that wants to be released and seen in the world,” Kidd said.

Kidd is a self-made man who had a difficult start in life. He lost both his parents to violent deaths and was orphaned by the age of 11. He was then raised by his grandmother in Port Huron, Michigan, an environment he describes as oppressive for an African American. Fighting stereotyping and discrimination, Kidd made his way to California in 1986. For years he worked in manual labor jobs. And although he came home exhausted every evening, Kidd always found time to create. He further developed his skills in woodworking, and then branched out into ceramics, ink prints and then painting. He sold his creations at local stores and festivals in the Stockton area.

In 1992, dissatisfied with his manual labor jobs, Kidd steered his life in a new direction. He attended Delta Community College in Stockton, where he earned his A.A. degree in Electron Microscopy and minored in art. In his art courses, teachers recognized Kidd’s talent and encouraged him to display his work.