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Back Talk with Ben Kehoe

Juxtapoz // Sunday, 06 Jun 2010
“You may ask me why I opted to get a communications degree, says Ben Kehoe, “and my answer would be a blank stare followed by an exploding M80 which would give me time to escape into a dark alleyway where I could sob unashamedly.” Ben Kehoe is the brother of artist Andy Kehoe, one funny guy, and a damn fine painter.


One reason you make art:

I feel like I’ve always been a visual person. A lot of times I’ll imagine worst case scenarios and possible solutions. Recently I was trying to fall asleep but couldn’t because I was trying to imagine a way I could stop a sword if I was handcuffed. Every scenario left me dead or with a few less fingers. I feel like artwork helps me channel some of these thoughts... I need the sleep.


The last good movie you saw:

Hmm... let me think about that. Well I know what the last horrible movie was that tried to sneak attack my mind. I was eating and wasn’t paying attention and the second Zorro movie came on. Holy fuck does that movie suck. Some little kid was doing back flips and fencing his teacher with a ruler... Who comes up with this shit? Oh the last really good movie I saw was Gomorrah... that movie was insane.


Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to:

I always wanted to see something nobody would believe like a UFO or a sasquatch eating a unicorn. I think I heard a ghost walk up the stairs a couple of times but I put that in the same category of when I thought I saw Alice Cooper in a car licking a girls face.


Favorite country or city visited:

I lived in Philadelphia for six years and California for a short stint and when I revisited my hometown of Pittsburgh, I realized it was my favorite city ever, so I moved back. It’s the only place I’ve found where I’ve made friends with my same strange interests/ obsessions. These include Pittsburgh sports, video games and art... and it’s relatively cheap... I love it here.



A few words that sum up your philosophy on life:

Take things for what they are, not what you want them to be.


Something you want the world to know about you:

I don’t have special twin abilities so please don’t ask. If you were a twin you’d understand the annoyance. My proof lies in the fact that my brother was in NYC for 9/11 and blocks away when the twin towers fell. While he was running in terror I was asked if I thought Andy was ok. My response was, “Yeah, I’m sure he’s fine. I don’t even think he’s close to the danger.” Zero twin ability.


Something that annoys or frustrates you about people:

Wow... where to begin? Haha, I’m pretty tolerant towards how shitty people can be. I guess something that annoys me is when people totally ignore there surroundings. Like people who cross the street without looking. I also hate the fact that I can’t go to the movies without someone in the crowd ruining it for me.


Something that concerns you:

Those frozen chimichangas I ate last night...


Artists you admire:

There are lots of artists I like... I’ll just name a few: My brother Andy, Kathleen Lolley, Dan May, Evan B. Harris, Michael Hsiung, Travis Lampe, Femke Hiemstra, Jason Limon, Jon MacNair, Ben Hernstrom ... Ok that’s more than a few and I know I’m missing more than a few as well.


Favorite quote(s):

“With my right foot, I will kick your face. With my left, I will kick your nose. With my fingers, I will poke your eyes out. Take a good look at my face. I'm an Oriental.” Johnny Yune in They Still Call Me Bruce.



The first record or CD you ever bought? The last album you downloaded?

I think the first tape a ever purchased for myself was a Smiths compilation at Kmart. The last album I downloaded was probably the new The National album.

Something you do when you’re procrastinating?

This one is easy... video games.


What is your most defining characteristic?

I’m pretty relaxed and definitely do not take myself too seriously. I also like helping random people with random problems. Drunk lady outside of a cafe, I’ll help you get your glasses untangled from your hair. Short old lady at the grocery store, I’ll help you reach those chicken nuggets. Not a problem and glad I could help.


What is your greatest fear?

I’m pretty scared of being in a plane crash over the ocean while locked in a coffin and then drowning in the middle while sharks attack me.


The moment you realized you were an ‘artist’:

Hmm... I think I realized I was an artist when I couldn’t go out with my friends or my girlfriend because of a fast approaching deadline, couldn’t afford to eat properly or pay my bills because I was waiting on a gallery check, and everyone thought I was lucky because I didn’t have to “go to work” 5 days a week.


Your greatest quality:

I make a hell of a smoothie. I’m actually drinking one while answering these questions.



Something you wish you could change or alter about yourself:

Not sure. Maybe if I could have the body and kick-ass ability of Bruce Lee, I’d certainly take that. I just watched part of “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” the other day while I was eating dinner... it may have just temporarily skewed my mind a little. But I think my girlfriend would appreciate my newly sculpted pecks and ability to make someone’s head explode with my fist.


What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and was it worth it?

I’d say getting back into doing artwork in 2005 and quitting my full-time job a few years ago to focus on it. I hadn’t completed a painting since high school and when I first started painting again, I really sucked. I think I had some girl troubles around that time too... so add shitty heartbreak imagery to that and you got quite a shame fest transferred onto found wooden objects. Oh and I was really into painting on things I found in the garbage back then... strange how most of those paintings ended up back where I found them. Circle of life I guess.


Something you wish you had known five years ago:

Nothing really. Things are working out ok... Can not complain.


What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years of your life?

Nothing crazy. Just try to keep improving and moving forward with my artwork. I also hope to do more traveling. And if the apocalypse happens, I’d like to learn how to shoot a gun, construct bullets out of scrap metal and maybe ride a horse.



See Ben Kehoe’s newest paintings in:

I Believe in Unicorns at WWA Gallery

Curated by Industrial Squid

Opens Friday, June 11th from 7- 10pm

On View: June 11th- July 10th




Every image in one place


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