As part of its 30th year commemoration, Arts Benicia is paying tribute to an artist who helped build the gallery, literally. When the community arts organization opened its doors in the Lower Arsenal, Mike Kendall was the first exhibitor, along with Larry Morace. More than that, he helped build the gallery walls so that he and countless others could show their work. Since then, he’s been an integral part of the art scene and community.

The one-man show titled Off The Wall will feature Kendall’s paintings, sculptures, relief work and perhaps a multi-media installation. During Benicia Artist Open Studios, the retrospective will replace Arts Benicia’s usual preview highlighting a selection of participating artists’ work. Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch and surreal artists, Kendall’s work is often surprising, and ranges from mixed media metal sculptures to large-scale paintings. “I enjoy creating works that demand the viewer’s attention through bold statements, contradiction, illusion or moving behind the visual senses,” Kendall said in a prepared statement. Mary Shaw, Arts Benicia exhibitions and program manager, said Kendall’s pieces are often a lot of fun, too.

Artist Mike Kendall at his Benicia Arsenal Studio

Peg Jackson

Mike Kendall at his Benicia Arsenal Studio

Off The Wall will give Kendall a chance to show a larger range of his work all in one place. He often opens his studio to accommodate other artists during Open Studios and, as a result, his own work gets packed away, she said. One big reason for the show is to give Kendall a big thank you for all he does for Arts Benicia and other artists. “Mike gives so much to this community and he’s been around so long. He does much to support the artist community. He organizes a smaller open studios event in December, and each time, he opens up his own studio for other artists. He’s an anchor for us. We just want to honor that,” Shaw said.

Since the early 1990s, Kendall has lived and worked in the Arsenal area. He first had a space in the former Yuba Manufacturing complex before the live/work spaces in the Tyler Street area became available. He often finds and provides recycled materials for artists, and has maintained a popular Benicia Artist Networking Group  (BANG) list, a networking site that highlights his own and other artists’ work along with calls for artists’ work and other important information.  His studio is on Jackson Street.

Mike Kendall: Off The Wall, a retrospective show featuring paintings, sculpture and mixed media work of the Benicia artist.
Arts Benicia Gallery, 4/8-5/7
991 Tyler St. #114, Benicia Arsenal
Gallery hours:12-5pm, weekly Wed through Sun
Opening Reception: 6-8pm, Sat, 4/8.
Family Art Day: 1-3pm, Sun, 4/30
Artists Open Studios: May 6-7, 10am-5pm