My Bloomingdales’ painted brown bags are in stores nationwide!

I had the wonderful pleasure of doing all of the merchandising art for Bloomingdales’ 2017 Spring Campaign! This included art that was used in displays nationwide, as well as my painting on their famous brown bags.

Below is a picture of me with two of the four brown bags designs.




Below is a picture of some ladies in the New York department store with two of the other four designs.




Next you will see pictures of how my art was used in store displays throughout the country!








Here is a very interesting ad that I painted for 100% Bloomingdales.





Interview With Ken Tate by Susan Sully

Interview with Ken Tate by Susan Sully from one of Ken’s artist’s catalogs

During the last five years, you’ve employed a pretty wide vocabulary of styles and mediums. Is there a common thread?

I like anything that’s gestural. The hard-edged does not appeal to me, maybe because I’m an architect in my other life. I’ve discovered that once I stop doing something linear, it’s possible to move into the realm of emotional abstraction. I like to do a kind of automatic writing—sitting, closing my eyes, and letting my hand go. Then there is no thought. I get into a scribbly inner self. That’s also how I paint. If I have a thought, I’m back in the rational, architect mode. Making art is about being in an opposite place—an almost childlike, pre-verbal state.

Some of your paintings appear to be directly inspired by Abstract Expressionism. Is that an important influence on your work?

I’m drawn to AbEx painting in part because I’m a very right-brain person. I have a tendency toward non-sequential logic and a belief in the power of the subconscious. But I’m also a very instinctual body-oriented person. I think that’s why action painting appeals to me. I love the way deKooning ventured into deep emotional levels through abstraction. Motherwell was into Chinese brush painting, using the action of the brush without relying on the recognizable language of calligraphy. Frankenthaler also used abstraction as a way to express primitive, visceral states of being. When I was at the Atlanta School of Art in 1970, Motherwell and Sam Gilliam lectured and toured studios and I liked them even more for that. I consider myself a third generation AbEx painter.

How do you stay original when you are working in the Abstract Expressionist mode?

There’s a compulsion within me to do this kind of work. AbEx is where I started as an artist and whenever I’m worn out with another direction, I return to it. I’m a gregarious painter interested in complex visuals with mysterious meanings. When I paint, it feels like something inside of me is being pulled up to the material plane. When that happens, the work is original. I like that AbEx is an American phenomenon, like jazz. It thrives on improvisation and keeps evolving. You can’t just go back and do Jackson Pollock or deKooning. That would be a miserable failure. So I’m always experimenting. Whenever I feel that I’m staying in the same place or going backwards, I shift gears completely. That’s what happened with the squeegee paintings. I hadn’t seen anybody else working that way, so there was no risk of being unoriginal.

How did you discover the technique of painting with a squeegee?

I was looking for an experience unlike painting with a brush—something instantaneous that tapped from a different part of my brain. One day I was in the art supply store and I saw yupo paper. It’s very slick and it just seemed to want the squeegee. When you paint with a squeegee on yupo paper, there is a beautiful, seductive effect. If you bear down hard, you get a translucent look or you can leave the paint heavy. There are many possibilities. You can paint with different sized squeegees, use single or multiple colors, cover the paper, or leave a lot of white space. It all happens very fast and is incredibly exhilarating.

The squeegee paintings you’re doing with luminous paint have a completely different energy than your AbEx paintings.

The medium has as much to do with that as the method. Luminous paint is almost fluorescent and comes in only a few colors—yellow, orange, raspberry pink. When the colors mix, the effect is crazy—better than drugs. You can’t imagine the physical rush you get when you’re doing it. Although the paintings are abstract, there is also something of a Pop element to them. Because of the colors, they look like Warhol paintings, but there are no figures. The latest series is called “World without Warhol.” I’m not a fan of Pop art per se, but I liked it when Basquiat and Warhol collaborated. There was a combination of Pop and gestural painting that was really interesting. Critics thought it was a waste of time, but what do critics know?

There seems to be a little bit of a Pop influence on your Intervention paintings, in that they include imagery from the popular media.

I’m appropriating popular imagery, but doing it in a way that’s very different from Pop art. I’m taking cues from a movement called Intervention, in which the artist selects an element from the clutter of mass media and creates something new by modifying it—intervening with it. I first got interested when I saw an Intervention piece on the cover of Modern Painters magazine. An artist had painted on a photograph of a classical painting. A detail of this piece was blown up and featured on the cover of the magazine, so the cover represented another layer of intervention. I took that cover, painted on it, blew it up, and painted on it again, so that the final painting has four layers of intervention. I titled it Classical Painting/Modern Painters.

Did it occur to you that this painting might be emblematic of the relationship between Ken Tate the artist and Ken Tate the architect?

There may be some relationship between the architecture I do, which has a classical influence, and my instincts as an artist. But I tend to think of the artist and the architect as two separate selves. When you make architecture, you need to have an idea of where you’re going before you start. It’s a fastidious process with a long gestation period. The way I paint is instant, tactile, and messy. There’s nothing fastidious about it. In the Intervention paintings, the images I select from magazine covers are rational, representational, crisp, and organized. The interventions are messy, painterly, random, and irrational. It’s an interesting interplay of opposites that suggests the artist and the architect might want to be together.

Layering seems to be a theme that shows up repeatedly in your work, not only in the Intervention pieces, but also in the Deconstructed series.

I love layering visual information because the final composition makes an instant impression, but you don’t really know what’s going on. When I first started using squeegee on yupo paper, the medium was so seductive that I made a lot of pieces quickly. One day, I began putting paintings together in combinations—let’s see what this one looks like with that one. That led to cutting the paintings into pieces and reassembling them into new compositions. The cutting and splicing process is akin to film editing, but I don’t have a master plan. I do it in an ad hoc way—cut things up, tape them together, and play it by ear. The end result is less about layering than creating a new, seemingly chaotic order that only the subconscious can recognize.

You talk about the influence of specific Abstract Expressionists on your work. Who are some of the other artists that inspire you?

Right now, Albert Oehlen is the painter I’m most excited about. He mixes Pop and gestural painting by working with big advertisements and painting over them. When you perceive the graphic images coming through the paint, the result is mysterious and stimulating. Christopher Wool’s paintings really get under my skin, too, and I love the painterly style of Cecily Brown. Of course, Schnabel, Basquiat, Twombly, and Ed Moses have been important to me for decades. All these artists reveal a certain primal urge to mine the sub-regions of the human psyche.

Is that what you are do in your painting?

It’s my intention. In art, you should try to incite a riot in the subconscious—an awakening out of the status quo. When you enter those regions and tap their mysteries, the riot begins.

What are your current interests and new directions?

Lately I’ve been experimenting with painting on used drop cloths, adding to what’s already there from the normal activity in my studio (see “Hi-Ho Cheerio,” page 34). There’s a kind of intervention going on that turns entirely random spills, drips, and smears into the “subject” of the finished piece. These paintings communicate in a subliminal language that is so raw it’s unsettling. I’m also using new graffiti-style felt and sponge tip pens on four-by-four foot canvases (see back cover). The size of the canvas allows me to use my whole body when I’m working, so it takes the introverted automatic writing I do and turns it into a big, extraverted gesture—which is what graffiti is. New materials and mediums always stimulate me, but in the end, it’s just the artist alone in the studio—a monk in a cell of his own invention—endlessly mark-making.


Fashion Art in Baton Rouge Condo Building

This is my intervention art and my fashion art. Pretty cool!!! This is in a nice newly renovated historic building in downtown Baton Rouge that was converted into luxury condos. My gallery Ann Connelly Fine Art provided fine art for the entire building . I was lucky enough to be in that group of artists.






Decon + Dilemma: Ken Tate at Steve Martin Fine Art Show

I have a show called Decon + Dilemma coming up this Saturday, October 1st at 6 pm at Steve Martin Fine Art Gallery in New Orleans. The show will feature a large triptych painting called The Poet’s Dilemma and thirty smaller fashion ads that have been painted on and enlarged and then painted on again. I will be at the opening on Saturday if you are in the area, please come and join us. It should be a lot of fun! The show will hang for two months, so if you’re in the area anytime until December, stop by.

Museum show about celebrities! Come see Ken in Del Ray, Florida.

Come join us at the opening on September 22, 2016 at 7:00 pm at the Cornell At Museum in Del Ray Beach, Florida. Ken will be there with his art.





Trifecta: New American Abstraction


A Group Exhibition of Work by Ken Tate, Jen Pack and Brenda Zappitell


May 10, 2016 (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – May 2, 2016 (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – Exhibit by Aberson is pleased to announce Trifecta, a group exhibition of works by Ken Tate, Jen Pack and Brenda Zappitell, on view at 3524b S. Peoria Tulsa, Oklahoma from May 12 through June 11, 2016. Opening Reception on Thursday, May 12 at 6 pm – 8 pm.

Trifecta refers to the desire of each of these artists to go beyond the conventional canons of beauty and subjectivity to create abstract works that shift and shimmer in the viewers’ mind and reach for a new, personal consciousness of color and form. The three bring together something of a school of abstraction. Their masterful work indicates what has been, during the past few years, a different intellectual and spiritual journey for each of these artists. This exhibition maps out a vibrant and telling future of abstraction that comes to Tulsa from all over the United States. Tate, Pack and Zappitell have each produced distinct surfaces in their application of color. In Trifecta, these three artists leave the world behind and forge something new out of the hidden rhythms of the American landscape – call it a New American Abstraction. Collectively their works present a vision that is largely stripped of historical hooks and overt references; theirs is an abstraction that reveals itself in the way a secret drawer might, in a dimension where art is a means of expression and the emblem of a higher purpose.

Zappitell, for instance, creates gesture-driven abstractions that are focused on body movement and influenced by nature and life experiences. Tate’s work is based on abstract expressionist and pop era idols but married and fused in a way that strikes at history but swings at contemporary culture; at some point his powerful brushstrokes have started taking over his vivid imagination in a ravishing mix of his previous and current art related ideas and stylistic experiments. Jen Pack’s work, however, is very controlled, almost in opposition to Zappitell’s and Tate’s work. Pack evokes a refined sense of beauty and symmetry in her framed yarn and thread works. These works convey a brand of minimalism influenced by color theorists such as Anni and Josef Albers.

Ken Tate (born Columbus, Mississippi, 1950) is an architect and painter whose work is rooted in abstract expressionism and incorporates an inclination towards the poetic rawness of paint. Tate says he “works straight out of the tube and never uses browns, or ever mixes colors.” Indeed the way he plays with paint implicates a superimposition of layers that barely blend with one another. When painting, the artist seeks new abstractions – something previously unseen. Technically, Tate is drawn to various ways of applying paint other than with the brush and employs squeegees, spatters, drips, blotches and smears.

Jen Pack (born Astoria, Oregon, 1976) makes art to satisfy a kind of compulsion: For her, everything happens in a liminal zone located between color and form, and painting and sculpture. The work connects to the other exhibiting artists in the bold use of color. Pack pays homage to color field painters in all of works and one can see fascination with Eva Hesse in her exploration of both materials and materiality. The meticulously rendered pieces, comprised of multicolored lines and rectangles and other geometric shapes, have passed through the work of James Turrell and the books of Octavia Butler to ultimately turn into spiritually charged compositions. This work explores color through fabric and its relationship to touch and our tactile knowledge of the world.

Brenda Zappitell (born South Florida, 1964), currently lives and works in Delray Beach, FL, is an abstract expressionist painter seeking to embrace and capture what she calls “the incredibly visceral moments” in life, completely engaged in the process of painting. Zappitell’s work combines unintentional mark making that defies logic through drips and splashes. There are aesthetic similarities between her canvases and those of both Pack and Tate, particularly their brightly rendered palettes. Zappitell, with her unique style, takes inspiration from several historically relevant painters, including Joan Mitchell and Willem de Kooning.

Exhibit by Aberson focuses on today’s contemporary abstraction. Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the gallery, founded by Kim Fonder and Henry Aberson in 2008, has long worked with mid-career and emerging artists in local, national and international venues. For inquiries please contact the gallery. https://abersonexhibits.com/



Ken Tate show at Baton Rouge gallery, Ann Connelly Fine Art:

If you’re looking for some wonderful art from a Baton Rouge gallery this month, be sure to stop by Ann Connelly Fine Art to see Ken Tate’s show.

Below, you will see his painted magazine covers.


Here, see his abstract artwork.

southern abstract expressionist

screen print painting

squigee painting

southern non-figurative artist


So be sure to stop by this wonderful Baton Rouge gallery to see Ken’s work.