“If someone tells me I have good taste, I’m insulted. I think of good taste as joining the crowd,” said Kenneth Walker.
An artist-turned-architect, store designer and product developer, Walker is the planning and zoning commissioner in Palm Beach, Fla., where he’s opening an exhibit of his artwork, called “Fashionista,” at the Fritz Gallery, 211 Royal Poinciana Way, Wednesday though April 1. “This is my spoof on good taste,” said Walker. “Fashionista is the right word because this place is so fashion-conscious. Everyone here wears stuff with logos.”
Walker takes a mixed-media approach. In one piece, there’s a giant armoire with its doors swung open and logos from Gucci, Chanel and YSL and other brands dangling off hangers. In another piece, they’re dangling from a clothesline, and then there’s a washing machine on a spin cycle tossing the logos.
In his eclectic career, Walker designed stores operated by Burdines, Galeries Lafayette, Gap Inc., Limited and Saks Fifth Avenue, until he sold the firm in 1985. Walker was part of the Sixties Pop Art crowd hanging out at the Andy Warhol Factory space before shifting to architecture. He considers “Fashionista” a “fun reentry” into the art world, this time getting into the budding Palm Beach art community. “‘Fashionista’ is a visual shorthand on the power of branding. It is a unique take on the retail world that will make you smile. It’s designed to both amuse and challenge you.”
Walker also has some of his other graphic artwork in the show, 15 pieces in total. Some are painted right on the walls. He integrates words into the artwork. “No interior designer has ever bought one of my paintings,” said Walker. “They’re not meant to be decorative. They’re meant to be in-your-face.”