A&E: An Architect’s Pursuit of Carefree Art

As a UCO architect, Kevin Tero’s demure persona and structured career seem to have sparked a calling within. This architect’s pursuit of carefree contemporary paintings has him quickly rising to notoriety within the Edmond art community.

He started painting seriously little more than a year ago, yet recently won the Oklahoma City Paseo Art Association’s “Best in 2D Art.” Tero’s work immediately won affection from enthusiastic collectors who love contemporary and impressionistic art, reflecting everything from Oklahoma landscapes to wildlife and even poignant human profiles.

As a budding architect, Tero always drew and took art classes in school, but it wasn’t until a friend suggested he take his art seriously that he signed up for a painting class with Bert Seaborn, a renowned American Impressionist. “He’s a well known Oklahoma artist who’s 78 and painted for 50 years. His style of painting blended well with what I have a natural ability for,” said Tero. “He gives honest feedback, even though he may only say a few things while he paints during class.”

Tero’s debut showing was in the Edmond Arts Festival where he sold 12 paintings, followed by the Paseo where he sold another dozen. He admitted to being nervous before the festivals built up his confidence. “I got a lot of positive reaction at those two shows,” he said. “When you sell the first painting, there’s a relief – until you wait awhile and say to yourself, ‘ok I need to sell another one’.”

As to his methods of painting, it’s very different from the rigid confines of architectural design. He plans less and sees more. “When I paint there is a composition sensibility that I’ve learned from architecture, but I try not to think too much and let it happen very spontaneously,” said Tero. “I feel totally involved what I’m doing at that point and not thinking of other things either. I’m not thinking, just doing.”

Showing his art publicly provided personal growth for the quiet man behind the brush. “Before I painted, I was a very private person. I would show my work to friends, and even when I wasn’t all that great, there were still interesting things happening when people looked at my work,” said Tero. “It’s been a pleasure, and now that my work is better, people can really have a personal reaction to a piece and that makes me feel good.”

An admirer of his work at the Paseo festival was even brought to tears, a moment of emotion that left a lasting impression on Tero. “A woman was crouched on the ground looking at a painting I did of a Native American. She looked at it for a long time and said she was about to cry because she liked it so much. She told me all of the meaning the painting held for her, none of which I put into the painting but she could get so much out of it by things represented symbolically in the work,” he said. “It meant a lot to me that it moved her so much.”

Perhaps another compliment to his work is the recognition and response he so easily wins. He has no agent, no gallery contracts; he just occasionally signs up for shows, allowing him the joy that comes with flexibility. “It’s both weird and liberating in that it’s totally your own, you’re in charge of it all. It’s on my shoulders to get myself out there but I get to do it the way I want to do it,” he says. “I started out by searching for festivals on the Internet and I also found an outlet through the Oklahoma Artist Guild.”

Enthusiastic admirers, friends and family are especially helpful setting up for festivals. “My family has been the most enthusiastic, unpaid workers,” laughed Tero. “Although my mom does get first pick of the paintings. My parents are very supportive.”

The same carefree demeanor goes for planning his future. Tero tries to not look too far ahead. Instead, he’s focused on honing his skills. “I want to keep getting better; I don’t want to stop working on this or think that I’ve arrived,” he says. “I try not to think about the future and just enjoy seeing people get a sense of joy or happiness in my work.”

Tero’s art is now on display at Conversations Bookstore and Dean Lively Gallery in Edmond.

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