A window onto the wall. You know David Kinker's work, even if you do not know David Kinker. You may have noticed the murals and sign paintings by this 19-year Central Oregon resident enlivening the likes of the Deschutes Brewery, McMenamins OId St. Francis School, and St. Charles Hospital, among many others. Or you may simply have noticed the way a seemingly unremarkable wall in a public place actually expanded the space, deepening its connection with the viewer.
Kinker grew up between Arizona and an area outside of Jackson, Wyoming. He has painted the Grand Canyon, but only on commission.
"Arizona is my history," he says, "but Bend is my home."
Kinker reminisces about the Bend he knew 19 years ago. "The mill was still working then, and I used to go to these old mill taverns. There was some color there." Back then, Bend was smaller, and Kinker says of his friends, "we were so tight, so close. That feeling is diluted now, but it's still there."
He compared Bend to a "teenager on hormones... And now it is going through a teenage depression." He sees his work partly as keeping that old Bend color alive in the changing town. But the change doesn't depress him.
"The only constant is change," he says, "I see control as an illusion. But nature is the most constant thing we have. I base my life off of that truth. Nature teaches me how to come to a more solid way of thinking." And that is not surprising for someone who grew up surrounded by such beauty as the Tetons and the Grand Canyon
His murals also reflect the value of community. "Do you want to know what makes my murals different than others?" he asks. "A mural can be just a painting on a wall; the murals I paint are interactive. They match the world you are in, and are a continuation of that world."
He is especially proud of his Silver Moon Brewery murals, which don't follow the actual corners of the building. Kinker desires that his murals, "increase the sense of space." Those that are just paintings, "they don't connect." Kinker's sees his murals in St. Charles Hospital as, "truly healing murals...for sick or healthy people."
"My work is about who I am," says Kinker. But he would not be who he is without his community. "Nothing exists without an environment, without a context."
His work as a teacher is just as important to him as the art he creates. "It feeds me," he says, "I love to see child-like wonder in the older people that I have taught. I have 70-year olds - people who one would think are at the end, but have the wonder of children who are just at the beginning - tell me that they actually see the world differently."
Kinker says his work "is not just painting. It is a way for me to connect with myself and others in a profound way."