Peter Kitchell Biography
Peter was born in 1950 in Cambridge, MA to architect/ artist parents. He was encouraged to paint at a very young age and began his formal training at the Modern Art and DeYoung Museums in San Francisco at the age of five.
While continuing his education at San Francisco Art Institute and California College of Arts and Crafts, Peter and his friends built a light show company which played the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballrooms, accompanying groups from the 'Righteous Brothers' to 'Big Brother and the Holding Company'.
In the late 60's, with traditional structure falling apart in American and European colleges, Peter set out looking for primal culture. It was winter and he headed for North Africa, arriving in Morocco and crossing into Algeria, then traveling down through Niger, across the Sahara to the Savannah and Gold Coast. A year later, sick and very thin, he headed back up through the Western Sahara and on to Portugal.
As a daily ritual he drew or painted the people and landscape. Language being a problem, these drawings and paintings were often his only means of communication. He lived among the
Berber tribes, with devout Moslems and ancient matriarchal societies, all the while painting the pieces that would become part of his first solo show back in the Bay Area in the beginning of the 70's.
Through the 70's he was making a living designing and building furniture. As well, he continued his tradition of photographing, painting and drawing from the landscape, often going to the desert in the southwest for months at a time. This led to his second solo show in San Francisco and his first commission from the Mark Hopkins hotel.
By the 80's, with a TV news special on Peter's work and shows in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco, his career had finally reached full swing. This brought freedom to branch out and a project called, "The Post Science Fair," combining the themes of science and art. Peter selected a YMCA in the middle of the SF's Tenderloin District. The crowd of hookers, homeless and artist mixed with a few "suits", was every bit as odd as the exhibitors. He encouraged many local artists, scientists and street people to participate with conceptual displays far stranger than the high school science fair they were parodying.
During this time there were long trips to South and Central America. On one pilgrimage through parts of the Inca Empire seldom seen by anyone but the local Indians, he happened upon remains of temples being used by the Indians as simple sheep corrals. Like many romantic painters before him, these were the places he studied.
In 1985 he left the Bay area for the forests of New England. Unruly nature became his new inspiration. Interpreting this denser landscape, he assembled an ambitious diarama over a hundred feet in length installed in its own room at a local Museum. Peter was intending a meditative piece, but people found it more exuberant than peaceful.
Peter started experimenting with lithography and etching at the Art Institute in San Francisco in the late 60's, moving on to papermaking and monotypes in the early 80's at Magnolia Press, also in the Bay Area. Moving into the 90's he continuing traditional print making using established printers on both coast, as his digital printmaking evolved in his Buckland studio. These first prints had an abstract subject matter. The original source being large shaped metallic paintings he had recently finished. This new digital form of image working was greatly helped by the previous 30 years experience in more traditional forms of printmaking.