"He is producing the landscape of our longings. Here paradise has not been lost. A bit complex, perhaps, but nothing of the graffiti, polluted air, and aggravated driving conditions in a state whose city populations have congealed into a honking mass."
—Jim Heimann, "In California." Californian Idealism
The more I saw of (his paintings), the more I was fascinated by the nature of the images, the motives and the form of presentation.
--Thomas Renner, Obstacles and Competition
If it hadn't been for the luscious gold light that lies all over the sinuous landscape like lay lady lay, there wouldn't have been the movies. Kenton Nelson, Pasadena painter and mosaics maker, loves the light . . . and the cinema."
—Carol Caldwell, "Kenton Nelson, This Side of Paradise." Nashville Arts
Working on as huge a scale as he did with his oil paintings, the native southern Californian has here gone mosaic—using thousands of times as his paintbrush. The effect is not just Chuck Close in pixels but a deeper exploration of light and the possibilities of chiaroscuro on an almost quantum level.
—Devon Jackson, Santa Fean
“Kenton Nelson’s work, which has appeared on several covers of The New Yorker, often depicts Americana that brings to mind 1930’s American scene painters, American Regionalists, and Mexican Muralists.”
—Cynthia Dea, “Scenes from American Life.” The Los Angeles Times “Critics Choice”
“His cool dramatics owe more to Charles Sheeler’s linear fussiness and cunning, not to mention the sleek world of graphic design and advertising, than it does to Edward Hopper’s bleak chic…A sweeter formality and less loaded air is seen in another female study figure, “Swim Party #2” in which a woman in a one piece swimsuit and cap lounges elegantly, anonymously, by a backyard pool. This is the opposite of Eric Fischl’s pool parties, where sexual or criminal activities always threaten to invade the suburban calm.”
—Josef Woodward, “Full Nelson Effect.” ArtsScene
“On some level, we know what to expect from the painter R. Kenton Nelson. On other levels, he’s a hard one to figure out or easily place within the pantheon of contemporary painting. Somewhere between those two poles lies the ongoing seductiveness of his approach to painting.”
—Josef Woodward, “Getting at Angles.” ArtsScene
“Informed by an Americana influenced by the WPA and it’s champions as well as his great uncle, Roberto Montenegro, the Mexican Muralist who was a contemporary of Rivera, Orozco, and others, R. Kenton Nelson’s work implies a story line that viewers are seemingly familiar with. Executed on both board and canvas, his paintings are precise, saturated, and polished; wonderful perspectives on the world brought forth through the vision of a truly great exponent of narrative construct.”
—“Trouble.” CASA Arts and Entertainment
“Nelson’s paintings are a kick to look at. But like the short stories by Cheever and Fitzgerald, they are not about milk and honey.”
—Lynn Cline, “Nelson’s World.” The New Mexican
“This is literally a fantastic show. It’ll take you back to whatever world you’re prepared to visit again, whether it’s art or your own dreams of an unsullied future. Nelson’s mock-Soviet version of Southern California gives you all the slack you need to transplant his picture-perfect idealism to your choice of settings or sets.”
—Dennis Jarrett, “Picture-Perfect.” SF Reporter
“Nelson paints in crisp bright hues redolent of Depression-era children’s-book illustrations. Shadows are cleanly defined, edges are carefully delineated, and everything—from lighthouses to clouds—is given equal weight. Nelson creates an American ideal reminiscent of Dick and Jane or Ozzie and Harriet.”
—Grady Turner, “New York Reviews.” ARTnews
“Something darker, though, does seem to call from beneath the tidy surface, implanting an almost undetectable uneasiness. Or perhaps it’s our collective skepticism that invite the uncomfortable sensation. Perhaps we are so used to malevolence in today’s society that we assume it’s presence.”
—Traci Kampel, The Villager
“Fables for our time, these are cynical little mysteries which leave the viewer to fill in the blanks.”
—Rick Gilbert, “Houses of Everyday Life…” Art Beat