Widowed Doobie Brothers drummer artist reflects on trauma in his paintings – Marin Independent Journal

  • Photo by Kathryn White Photography) Kate Knudsen Seager Gray

  • Kate Knudsen says her painting “God wants me to behave” captures the messages she heard when she was growing up in the South. “I like the playfulness of the skirted girl below the one inside the church; at least I have to dress to go and sit on that hard bench.

  • “Her sideways gaze, what did she witness, a southerner?” observes Kate Knudsen from her painting “Witness”, which is in the Seager Gray Gallery.

  • Kate Knudsen’s “Tumbling Forward” is one of three of her paintings included in “Figuring it Out”, at the Seager Gray Gallery through November 15th.

  • (Provided by Kate Knudsen) Kate Knudsen’s “Cathedral of My Mind” won first place in 2017 in an exhibition at the Arts Guild of Sonoma which was judged by Donna Seager and Suzanne Gray, co-owners of the Seager Gray Gallery.

  • (Provided by Kate Knudsen) “My Heart is a Finch” by Kate Knudsen.

  • (Provided by Kate Knudsen) “Unseen Seer” by Kate Knudsen.

At the peak of her artistic career, Kate Knudsen hand painted outrageously colorful clothes for music legends like Toto, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yokum and Emmylou Harris, then whimsical sneakers – snakes for actor Kirk Cameron, food and cooking utensils for celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, dreadlocks for Whoopi Goldberg – thanks to a deal she made with Reebok.

From there, she launched her own line of girls’ clothing, then created models for the international line of high-end accessories Evita Peroni, which sent her around the world for two decades.

She was living in Hollywood at the time with her new husband, Keith Knudsen, the longtime drummer and singer of the Doobie Brothers. She wore a freshly hand-painted tuxedo jacket to a Cars concert – “Literally the thing was drying in the backseat of the car,” she laughs – and when the couple went backstage, the whole thing was drying out in the backseat of the car. world turned her outfit around and wanted one.

“I had a lot of business with groups and they would see a jacket and say, ‘Make mine crazier than this one,’ she said.

It was, says the Sonoma County artist, a truly rock and roll lifestyle.

One would not know that by looking at the works of Knudsen now.

When she gave up her work in fashion in 2015 to return to her first love, the fine art, Knudsen began to create paintings that are psychological journeys into her past. She was raised in Mississippi, the daughter of a Lebanese Antiochian Orthodox Christian father and a Texas-born Southern Baptist mother who owned a clothing store. She sang songs in church about how Jesus loves all little children, “but then you would come out of church and you can’t play with it. [Black children]. I knew in my bones it was wrong.

Her works are inspired by dreams, memories and revelations, and often feature images of the South, religious iconography, women and children whose emotions are palpable on the canvas, and sometimes a disembodied doll.

They are, she admits, dark.

“I like to invite all our parties to the table, the shadow is part of us”, she said.

Three of his paintings are included in “Figuring it Out,” a group exhibition at the Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley until November 15.

Knudsen, who received a BFA from the University of Mississippi, is familiar with shadows. She was widowed at 25 and gave birth to her daughter three weeks after her husband died in a plane crash. She then married Keith Knudsen and was together for 25 years when the former Nicasio resident died at Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital at the age of 56 in 2005.

His paintings and ceramics are a way of slowly working on his past. “It’s like peeling onions,” she says.

Not originally. Her first series, “Up With Skirts,” is as vibrant and playful as her hand-painted clothes. But then she read Molly McCully Brown’s collection of poems, “The Virginia State Colony for the Epileptics and the Faint of Heart,” and something about her was shaken.

“His images were breathtaking and haunting, and then these images emerged. I started to paint with fury, ”she says. “I’m a pretty happy, upbeat, joyful burst of energy, and then I did these dark paintings and people were like, ‘Did that come from you? I have been through a lot in my life.

“I didn’t know where all these images were coming from. And then I remembered an experience after my daughter was born and I hadn’t thought about it in all these years. And it came out in the painting. It came from a lot of pain.

She featured three of these images in an exhibition in 2017 at the Arts Guild of Sonoma which was judged by Donna Seager and Suzanne Gray, co-owners of the Seager Gray Gallery. One of these paintings, “Cathedral of My Mind”, received the Best of the Exhibition award. This is the first time that Knudsen has exhibited at the Seager Gray Gallery.

Knudsen’s work is textured and nuanced with subtle psychological nuances that explore the internal situations of his subjects. We’re excited to show it off in the gallery, ”Seager said.

Knudsen hopes his work invites viewers to dwell on the narrative.

“If it resonates with enough people, I’m happy,” she says.


What: ” Understand it “

Or: Seager Gray Gallery, 108 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley

When: Until November 15; From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday or by appointment

Admission: To free

Information: seagergray.com, 415-384-8288, kateknudsen.com

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Margarita B. Bittner

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