Published on January 19th, 2021 | by AberdeenMagazine
Times Gone By
Local artist Kevin Kendall looks to memories as inspiration for bringing historical photos of Aberdeen back to life.
When it comes to local art, one rarely thinks of Facebook as the place to display it. For Kevin Kendall, the Facebook group “You Know You’re From Aberdeen, SD If…” turned out to be the perfect place to showcase his art for many Aberdeen locals to recall memories of times gone by.
Kevin’s art is unique to Hub City. He colorizes and edits historical photographs of Aberdeen and restores them. It’s not as simple as taking any old picture and putting color over it in Photoshop. The photo must have clarity. More often than not, Kevin spends more time repairing and restoring the image before coloring it, and having a good foundation is vital for any of his pieces to come out accurately and just how he wants them. “If I know the date the picture was taken, I try to use colors that were available during that time. Also, if it’s a picture that someone knows what the colors were, that helps me a lot,” Kevin said. He utilizes charts and gauges of colors for exteriors like brick or siding and shingles on roofs. “I would say that about 80% of the time, I have to choose the coloring myself.”
He uses a few tricks to turn some black and white shades back into the right colors, and that’s his biggest priority when it comes to historical photos: accuracy. But if a picture is missing a corner, Kevin will take artistic liberties to make the image look complete by adding his own structures or whatever else is needed. “I will try to use as much of the original photo as possible, but if I want to spark a memory, I will add certain items or even people to make the photo appear as if it’s actually a memory come alive,” said Kevin.
“I started working with Photoshop about 20 years ago. At first, I just did the usual cut and paste with pictures for fun, but when I realized you could paint on a picture, I started restoring old family photos,” Kevin explained. As time went on, Kevin began to work on historical photos of Ellendale, North Dakota, his hometown. After attending college in Wahpeton, Kevin moved to Aberdeen in 1972. “Aberdeen was like this big city to us growing up, so it felt natural to end up here,” Kevin said. Much like the photos he posts in the Aberdeen group, Kevin also posts regularly in the “You Know You’re From Ellendale…” group. In these Facebook communities, people began to take notice of the care and detail Kevin put into each picture.
“When I started doing these types of pictures, I wanted to not only share my work, but I also wanted to learn more about the way people remembered certain times of their lives that are associated with different places and people,” Kevin said. The Facebook group, “You Know You’re From Aberdeen, SD If…” has over 8,000 members, and posts are made regularly every day about Aberdeen history. The most obscure of Aberdeen’s facts to common knowledge can be found in the group’s search history, but members will also share personal family photos and the memories that accompany them. It’s these memories that keep Kevin inspired, and seeing how people relate to one another through memories, and in some cases, even reconnect over social media after years of no contact, have been the best results to come from his art.
Being able to restore parts of Aberdeen’s history through photos has been an honor for Kevin. “Both my mom and dad suffered from dementia and couldn’t remember the good or bad times of their lives, so I know how important memories can be in old age. By colorizing these pictures, it gives the viewer a whole new look at a time that’s gone by, and it lets them relive parts of their lives with just a look at a picture.”
Kevin’s art was previously on display at the historic Ellendale Opera House and the Ellendale Coleman Museum. He donated around 100 prints to the opera house as part of a fundraiser, and they made 26 canvas prints that were displayed. The few prints that found their way to the museum were on display from November of last year until earlier this summer. There are plans to dedicate an entire room to Kevin’s artwork at the Opera House in the future. // –Karlie Spiry
Local Art Galleries
WEIN GALLERY – Presentation College
1500 North Main Street
Mon-Fri 8 AM-5 PM
PRESIDENT’S GALLERY, JFAC GALLERY AND STUDENT CENTER GALLERY – Northern State University
1200 South Jay Street
President’s Gallery: Mon-Fri 8 AM-4:30 PM
JFAC Gallery: Mon-Fri 8 AM-4:30 PM
Student Center: Mon-Fri 7 AM-4:30 PM and weekends 1-9 PM
LAMONT GALLERY – Dacotah Prairie Museum
21 South Main Street
Tues-Fri 9 AM-5 PM, Sat and Sun 1-4 PM
ARTWORKS CO-OP GALLERY – Aberdeen Mall
3315 6th Ave SE Suite #48
Thurs-Sat 11-6 PM & Sun 12-6 PM or by appointment
JANE WEST GALLERY – Capitol Theatre
415 South Main Street
Open during events, call ahead for additional hours of operation
ARCC GALLERY – Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center
225 3rd Ave SE
Mon-Thurs 9 AM-8 PM, Fri 9 AM-5 PM and Sat 10 AM-12 PM
RED ROOSTER COFFEE HOUSE GALLERY
218 South Main Street
Mon-Thurs 7 AM-7 PM, Fri 7 AM-9 PM and Sat 8 AM-9 PM Sun 9 AM-2 PM