Baja Artist Robert Pace Kidd will be featured at one-man show at the Baja Gallery at the Rosarito Beach Hotel
by Carla White
The wrinkles in his handsome and weathered face tell the story of a life lived. His pale eyes seem kind — but not soft. They are eyes that see and accept what was and what is; he sees beauty in the moment, even though the moment is a compilation of past joy, pain, and everything in between. It is this remarkable ability to peel away personal bias and depict people, animals and nature as they really are – and to do it with uncanny talent and steady-handedness – that is the hallmark of Baja artist Robert Pace Kidd, who uses multimedia to capture and share the very textures of life.
If it is true that some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, then so it must be that Robert was born (in 1945 in Southern California) wearing a little leather vest and cowboy hat. His early years were largely spent hunting and fishing in the rugged wilderness with his brother and dad, George Dunlap Kidd, who was both a gunsmith and a saddler renowned for his exquisite work. Robert avidly studied his father’s craft, all the while relishing the childhood adventures of the land and meeting ranchers and Indians who lived in the region.
His official biography rolls past Robert’s formidable years (when little cowboys grow into big ones, surely there are some colorful tales to tell), that included visits to Baja California. He headed off to Orange Coast College and San Diego State University where he studied art history. Then a tour of duty in the navy during the Vietnam War. During that period, he came to know Australia, the Philippines and New Zealand, ultimately returning to explore remote regions and living among primitive tribal groups. He saw similarities between these peoples and those amongst whom he’d grown up. His passion to capture ‘the people of the earth’ grew strong, and he began sketching them; soon, he started using leather to create portraits. And when he took these portraits to a gallery in Australia where they were snapped up, his future was sealed.
In 1975, Robert returned to Southern California. But his artist soul searched for more solitude and he relocated to Baja California where he has remained since, living at the beach in Rosarito. He has evolved many ways and styles of depicting ‘the people of the earth’, as he calls them. And not just people – animals, rocks, old cars, anything or creature that speaks to infinite time. He is widely known for his leather work: The remarkable colorations he achieves and the sense of suppleness seem impossible. And his portraits are the stuff of legend.
But his pen and ink work, and his oils and watercolors are equally spellbinding. Is it the art or is it the subject that fascinates? The art and the subject become one and, frankly, it doesn’t matter which medium he uses – there is a dimensionality that makes everyone who sees his work say, “I can touch it.”
In the 90s, another passion came to the fore for Robert: his love of nature, the ocean and surfing. His undying loyalty to the brotherhood of the Longboard Cowboys continues even now, in lovingly crafted pen and inks and paintings, and even – tongue-in-cheek – in screened t-shirts. (This writer is proud to boast a whole drawer full of Longboard Cowboy t-shirts).
Robert Pace Kidd’s work is immediately recognizable, which is one reason that at least half of his year is spent working on art that is commissioned. He occasionally appears at shows, often in America’s southwest, and will be featured at a prestigious one-man show at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, Saturday, April 6, from 2 p.m. His collectors are a vast and varied group but with a deep and loyal appreciate of Robert’s unique style of arts. At this particular showing will be some of Robert’s more recent art (as well as some pieces representing his work in the Rust Never Sleeps series and other periods), including original ink productions such as Kumeiia Matriarch.
This almost three-dimensional detailed portrait of an elderly indigenous woman (the Kumiai tribal people are native to Baja California) is a masterful rendering that bespeaks more than a woman’s life but, rather, a cultural history.
For Robert, it seems like life in the moment is really a memory of the past. Rusting cars were once new, but now they have achieved the patina of time and character; as has the sharp-eyed Matriarch, and the rocky cliffs clambered by bighorn sheep. And even the little dude who was most assuredly born with a vest and cowboy hat…well, he is timeless and always will be, alive in the works of Robert Pace Kidd.
What: Meet the Artist: Robert Pace Kidd An vaquero-style event featuring the wines of Joanna Jones and the saddles of Gary McClintock (producer of Corazon de Vaquero). Live music, too.
Where: The Baja Gallery at the Rosarito Beach Hotel in Rosarito.
When: Saturday, April 6, 2 p.m.
Robert Pace Kidd is on Facebook…but why not come and meet him at this artist’s reception, with wine, music, character and texture!
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