Rockwell Kent film documents artist’s life

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Oksana Carlier/Winonan

A documentary featuring Rockwell Kent, made by a professor from Ohio University, was shown at Winona State University as a part of the Centennial Celebration last week.

The film detailed Kent’s life, emphasizing his art, travels and personal life.

The film was made by Frederick Lewis, an associate professor at Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and Studies, who took just under 15 years to retrace the path of Rockwell Kent.

Kent spent a year and a half in Winona, but Lewis did not visit Winona until last week.

“It is quite satisfying to be in Winona finally,” Lewis said.

Lewis traveled to Russia, Denmark, Ireland, Alaska, Cape Horn, Greenland and many other places as he made the documentary.

Flying over the artic ocean and seeing the icebergs was “surreal,” Lewis said.

Lewis’s interest in Kent started when Lewis saw some of Kent’s early black and white paintings of Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine.

“I just kept digging deeper—he did what? He went where? It just snowballed,” Lewis said.

In the documentary, many of the locations and art from Kent’s life were shown. Kent dabbled in many different occupations besides art, including politics, carpentry and writing.

Likewise, Kent had three wives, many mistresses, socialistic views and a love for German culture.

According to the film, Kent was a bit of a troublemaker and was targeted in the McCarthy scandal during the Cold War. He also liked doing practical jokes, once dressing up his friend as his bride and fooling a whole town.

When asked what he wanted out of life, Kent answered, “What did I want? Why, I wanted it all.”

The film was just one part in a series of events for the celebration organized by Taff Roberts, the festival coordinator. According to Lewis, Roberts was the mastermind behind the week of events.

According to Lewis, the film has been shown over 1000 times on more than 200 PBS channels. The film was also shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Contact Oksana at [email protected]