Derrick Breidenthal credits his early interest in art to the tutoring he received for dyslexia in elementary school. His school used the time to focus on visual learning, and, he says, “it just kind of stuck from there.”
Fast forward to adulthood: Breidenthal, a 46-year-old father to 1- and 5-year-olds, is supporting his family as a full-time artist. The sale of four paintings to H&R Block when it opened its new corporate headquarters in downtown Kansas City marked his first professional milestone, he said. At that point, he’d been working in the Crossroads Arts District for about six months after moving from Denver back to his hometown, determined to pursue art full time.
“You need to get it to where it’s as much a part of your daily life as possible, even if you aren’t making a living on your art right now,” Breidenthal says by way of advice to younger artists.
“I’d say, ‘Try not to let more than a few days pass before you get into the studio, whatever that studio is. If it’s your basement, your kitchen, a studio you’ve rented, whatever. It’s about the repetition of it and getting that to be second nature. … And have fun. Have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously.’ ”
The strategy seems to have worked for him.
Locally, Breidenthal has had work purchased by MMG Worldwide and Kansas State University. More distant buyers include the Faulconer Gallery in Grinnell, Iowa, and the Viceroy Snowmass near Aspen, Colo.
He’s preparing for a show at the Moberg Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa, as well as a Denver exhibit in January that he’s particularly excited about.
“That state and city, as you can imagine, has gone through some significant changes really quickly, so the show has invited about 12 artists to digest that and speak to the transformation that’s happening and they’re going through right now.”
In November, he wrapped up “Tonality,” an exhibit at the Brandon Jacobs gallery in the Crossroads, a space that owner Shelly Cascio opened up in February. For that collection, Breidenthal switched it up a bit from his usual style, which he describes as mostly landscapes with Mother Nature-type compositions that tend to feature brighter colors. This is the first time Breidenthal has painted a series that consists primarily of night scenes.
“They’re still in line with the idea of the landscape and this kind of human equation inserted into the greater scale of these big landscapes, but they’re all driven through a lot of night studies I did,” Breidenthal says. “So they’re all about kind of the nocturnal light, and, if you can kind of get away from the city lights and actually be out in it for a while, how your eyes adjust to the tones of that and the splitting color of brake lights in rural areas that kind of dust up in the middle of the night.”