Courtesy of Kyle Hailey
Beneath a hand crafted eight-inch beaked mask is local artist Kyle Hailey. Hailey paints and sketches beneath this mask because he feels it expresses his persona when creating art.
Hailey held his second art show at Chance James Studios as a part of Fresno’s monthly Art Hop event earlier this month.
Displayed were seven paintings at Art Hop, three of which included chocolate, black or white swirls surrounding females. Two of the paintings were of partially nude females, and the last one was of a little girl with pigtails sitting on a curb.
As a teen, Hailey sketched at all hours of the day and was consumed by his art. Hailey, 24, now spends 60 to 80 hours a week doing some type of art, mainly sketching.
Hailey, a recent graduate of Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a minor in art, is hoping to continue his education in the master’s program at UCLA.
A run-in with Chance James, owner of Chance James studio in downtown Fresno resulted in Hailey’s first Art Hop show on Oct. 7. Upon learning that Hailey was pursuing a career in art, James offered him space at his studio during Art Hop.
“Chance offered me his studio because he had some open space for the show,” Hailey said. “It was a bit short notice, but the coverage from Art Hop and the appeal to the crowds that aren’t really in the art industry is really cool.”
Although Hailey spent most of his years growing up painting and sketching, the show provided some professional experience.
“Kyle paints all the time,” said Fallon Hailey, Hailey’s sister. “To some, it will seem different or controversial, but it’s how he feels and expresses himself.”
Hailey’s sister, who was at her brother’s first Art Hop show, provides Hailey with much-needed support.
“My sister is my biggest supporter because she can understand where I’m coming from,” said Hailey, “She has even been the reason I’ve gotten some [art related] jobs.
Hailey said there are some that think his work is controversial because the underlying theme of his artwork has to do with his past experiences with an ex-girlfriend, who worked as a stripper.
“It made me physically ill when I saw her perform,” Hailey said. “I just couldn’t handle it and what it was doing to me.”
The situation was hard to swallow for Hailey, but he was able to express himself through his artwork.
What began as a free painting assignment in an advanced painting class at Fresno State, ended with Hailey incorporating his personal struggles into his art, and he received some warm reception about the work.
“I hadn’t yet tapped into my feelings about the situation,” Hailey said. “It had taken me two years to get over the whole ordeal.”
Hailey has since produced multiple paintings, including two paintings titled “Ali’s Desire” and “John’s Hands.”
“Working with a subject that matters helps me better illustrate my point as an artist,” Hailey said.