If you look at the long arc of Port Townsend resident Kim Simonelli’s life, he’s only spent the past decade of his nearly 76 years as an artist, and yet, in spite of being largely …
If you look at the long arc of Port Townsend resident Kim Simonelli’s life, he’s only spent the past decade of his nearly 76 years as an artist, and yet, in spite of being largely self-taught, he was the only Jefferson County award recipient at the 2020 Collective Visions Gallery Show in January.
The CVG Show is an annual state-wide juried art show, sponsored by the Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton, that features more than $10,000 in cash and purchase prizes.
The 13th year of the show, held Jan. 18 at the Kitsap Convention Center, saw 393 artists from 98 Washington cities enter 1,100 artworks, from which jurors Liana Bennett and Beverly Hanson selected 154 for inclusion in the six-week exhibit that’s on display until Feb. 29.
Simonelli’s piece, “Cool Jazz,” was one of three to receive Arnold’s Home Furnishings Purchase Prizes, and Arnold’s owner Steve Ford described the welded steel sculpture as “uniquely combining a love of music, talent and art,” with the welded steel as “a contemporary feature” that provides “a much-needed three-dimensional component to our art collection.”
Like so much of his art, Simonelli surprised even himself with “Cool Jazz.” He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and the University of Washington’s School of Architecture before devoting his career to technical publishing and computer-assisted data analysis, none of which are fields that favor spontaneity, but he admitted that he typically has little idea what a final piece will look like when he starts working on it.
“There’s a certain element of whimsy to it,” Simonelli said. “Most of my art is non-figurative. I’m inspired by shapes more than anything else, and once I’m done, my titles are usually in reaction to the rhythm and sense of movement in those pieces.”
Simonelli has taken part in about half a dozen CVG Shows, although he skipped submitting a piece last year. He declined to attend this year’s ceremony, in part because he doubted he would win anything.
“I enjoy sharing my work and getting reactions from other people,” Simonelli said. “What they take away from my work is up to them, as far as I’m concerned, but I do need feedback, because I could think I’m producing these great works of art, and it turns out that I’m wrong. That’s why I enter juried shows, since it gives me the benefit of other people’s judgement.”
And while Simonelli chose to pursue art, after retiring in 2009, because it was so removed from the fields in which he worked for a living, there remain some consistently underlying threads, connecting his fact-driven professions and his abstract creations.
“I got into sculpting because I liked the permanence of it,” Simonelli said. “I’ve built chairs, decks and parts of my house. Steel is a relatively inexpensive material, and the learning curve to work on it is not huge. I can cut, weld and bend steel in the shop right next door to my house.”
Those who wish to check out Simonelli’s art for themselves can stop by the Northwind Arts Center in Port Townsend, which even has some of his digital art on display.