Who: Kenneth Marunowski is a newlywed Bend artist. His colorful mixed-media piece, “Wonderful Town: Sunriver Suite,” is now emblazoned on posters promoting Sunriver Music Festival, which returns to Sunriver and Bend beginning Aug. 10. A member artist at Peterson Roth Gallery in downtown Bend, Marunowski moved to Bend two years ago from Duluth, Minnesota, where he taught professional writing for arts and letters students University of Minnesota Duluth from 2006 and 2015. Composer, pianist and conductor Leonard Bernstein is central among the elements in “Wonderful Town,” recognizing, as this year’s Festival will, Bernstein’s birth 100 years ago. Contact: sunrivermusicfestival.org, kennethmarunowski.com.
Q: How did you get your start as an artist?
A: Well, it even hearkens back to early childhood days, really. I come from a big family. … Having a brother-in-law who was particularly art-oriented, I started drawing dinosaurs with him. As a little kid, I started making my own books and all that, and … I just loved drawing so much I never turned back. I followed it through in high school, and then was an art major at Kent State University, as well as a French major. From a very early age I was very interested in the arts, and it was just nice to have a supportive family member encouraging me all the time. We would get together just to do some drawing.
Q: What was your approach to creating “Wonderful Town: Sunriver Suite”?
A: This year is quite unique in that it celebrates 100 years of Leonard Bernstein, as you know. I really tried to take off on that specific theme. I am very much a fan of classical music, in fact, all genres of music. With the specificity of Leonard Bernstein, I thought, “OK, this is like the major motif in a classical composition.” So I certainly want to place him as the center stage piece in the design of the composition, and then I wanted to have some more minor themes. I decided to include some of the players from the Sunriver Orchestra. Those are the two at the bottom left and then there’s a piano player at the top left as well. And then in addition, I was certainly saddened by that tragic story of somebody killing one of the swans (Chuck, as he was affectionately known, was shot on Thanksgiving). … I’m very much a nature lover, which was also one of the reasons I moved to Bend with (wife) Carly. I decided that’s sort of a symbolic element I could include in the piece. … I thought of it in a collage sort of sense, I wanted it to be able to be experienced on different levels. Let’s overlap this, overlap that, so it’s kind of like layers of meaning, one over the next. … I thought this would be a good opportunity to test out some different kinds of materials as well. I was just working with not only acrylic paint, and some oil paint, but also some different kinds of markers, artistic crayons — a little bit of the Crayola blend — just trying to see what kinds of different things I could incorporate into the image, … make it speak on different levels.
Q: Is that an approach you think you’ll use more in the future?
A: I think so. I do think mixed media is quite exciting. I’ve never really had the opportunity to do much collage. And I always thought collage offers some really cool possibilities for invention. I think I will keep on pursuing that. I’m somebody who really enjoys a project. This specific idea of 100 years of Leonard Bernstein just gave me a project. And when I think of that, maybe just because of my Ph.D. studies, I’m trained as a researcher in many ways. I thought, “OK, what kind of background can I get on Leonard Bernstein?” or “What can I find out about this whole Sunriver project?” A lot of the previous other (posters) have been landscapes of Sunriver. I mean, you see a river and some mountains in the distance. That’s beautiful, but I really wanted to create something much different than that — to see how people would respond, really. Maybe provoke people a little bit, maybe see how they react to a different kind of piece.
—David Jasper, The Bulletin