Master Plein Air Painter Kenn Backhaus Opens at Troika Gallery July 3

Troika gallery is pleased to announce “Our Passion With Nature,” a feature exhibit of life experiences captured through the language of paint. The exhibit presents new works by highly sought after, nationally known master American painter and instructor Kenn Backhaus. The show opens July 3 and runs to September 1.

Backhaus has a love of the outdoors and a passion for painting that exemplify the plein air painter. He was born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and spent much of his childhood on a family farm near Burnett, Wisconsin. His fondness for nature became the catalyst for his art. He graduated from Layton School of Art in Milwaukee in 1973 before embarking on a professional career in design and illustration. As a commercial designer and illustrator, Backhaus received many local and national awards, including acceptance in the Annual Society of Illustrators Show in New York. Backhaus says that, although he took pride in his commercial successes, his heart always belonged to the fine art of outdoor painting.

With a developing interest in the historic style of painting en plein air (“in the open air”), in 1984 Backhaus began devoting more time to painting and nurturing his love of the outdoors. He found that capturing true color, value and the mood of a subject was best done on location or through direct observation. He also discovered the importance of his studio time in union with his outdoor experiences. Since then, he has broadened his subject matter to include not only landscape, but also figurative, portrait, still life, and nature.

As a member of an ever-growing family of plein air painters across this country, Backhaus says he is dedicated exclusively to exploring to the fullest the potential of our surrounding landscape. “I believe that a painting is not just an illusion in two dimensions,” he says, “but also that of a moment in life, captured on canvas. Painting is a language varying in mood and atmosphere that reflects the diversities of life itself. My goal is to make the experience of painting a singular one with the viewer.”

Backhaus’ paintings have been juried into many shows, including the Oil Painters of America National Shows, and received many awards in shows and competitions across the country. He was one of 50 artists selected from all corners of America to participate in a traveling museum show titled “From Sea to Shining Sea: A Reflection of America,” which travelled to various museums across the country from 2004 through 2007. His work has been featured in numerous art publications and books. He was featured in the PBS series “Plein Air,
Painting the American Landscape” and is one the host artists for a new art education high definition series on American Public Television entitled “Passport & Palette” that combines art and travel around the world and represents the next generation of art education on public television.

Backhaus is a Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America and the Plein Air Painters of America. He was President of the Plein Air Painters of America from 2000 through 2001. Backhaus regularly serves as an acceptance juror and awards judge for many shows across the country. He was the Acceptance Juror in 2006 and Awards Judge in 2007 for the Plein Air–Easton! Competition.

On Saturday, July 25 from 3-5:30pm, Backhaus will conduct a demonstration at Troika Gallery titled “Painting the Portrait, Alla Prima: From Sketch, to Block In to Finish” during this year’s Plein Air–Easton! Festival. This demonstration is free and open to the public. It promises to be of fascinating interest to art collectors, fellow artists, and art enthusiasts as Backhaus tackles the perils and challenges of painting a portrait in outdoor lighting. Don’t miss the chance to see a true master at work in real time.

Backhaus will give an Art Talk on opening night of the exhibit, July 3 at 7pm during Easton’s First Friday Gallery Walk, which runs from 5-9pm. Troika Gallery is located at 9 S. Harrison St. in downtown Easton. For more information, visit, email or phone 410.770.9190.