By Joe Kirchmyer
During his younger years, Ken Newton loved to draw and hoped to one day become a famous cartoon artist. He pursued that dream until life eventually got in the way.
Today, the 48-year-old Cheektowaga resident lives a relatively quiet life as husband, father, grandfather and softball coach. While it wasn’t his dream, he’s had a nice 30-year career in the local finance industry.
But, there’s still that pesky creative itch to scratch …
“I have no formal art training. I’m completely self-taught,” said Newton, who in December of last year dusted off his art supplies and started to re-enter the elusive art world.
“When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time copying the work of other cartoonists,” the local artist recalled. “I wanted to pursue a career as a cartoonist and create a syndicated comic strip. In fact, I did create a comic strip called ‘Farm Team’ about farm animals that played sports. I went through the approval process with a couple of syndicates that expressed interest, but it never took off.”
Newton also penned recurring comic strips for two local publications back in the 1990s — “Sam” for a publication called the Senior Beacon and a strip about the local radio duo Shredd and Ragan for Artvoice. It’s was fun while it lasted, but those local comic strips just weren’t paying the bills.
“Eventually, my artwork took a back seat to raising a family,” Newton said. “I gave up the pursuit of my dream to continue to work and make money to raise the kids and put them through college.”
Now, he’s ready for his comeback.
Around Christmas of 2016, Newton’s artistic spark suddenly rekindled. He started to look at a lot of the work that’s out in the world today. While he liked what he saw, he thought he could do just as well. A sports fanatic, he started working on baseball-related artwork and lithographs of ballplayers. Then he moved on to another interest, marine life, especially sea turtles, sharks and whales.
With a little practice and some encouragement from friends and family, Newton built up the courage to participate in his first show at a local gallery. He submitted three acrylic paintings — a sea turtle, a boat on a beach and an approaching storm — for the “Life’s a Beach” exhibit that opened on Aug. 4 at Enjoy The Journey Art Gallery in West Seneca, where it will remain on display throughout the month.
“I thought opening night went great,” Newton said of the opening reception at Enjoy The Journey. “I had some friends and family show up and I had an opportunity to talk to several other artists who were there. It was a good time!”
Newton is currently self-promoting his artwork through several social media outlets, including a Facebook page called Ken Newton Studios where you can view samples of his recent work. He has also set up an account with Qart, an online art auction site, and he’s in the process of establishing a business partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Gainesville, Fla.
And in 2018, he hopes to possibly open an art gallery or, at the very least, affiliate with a local coffee shop, brewery or business where his artwork can be displayed on a semi-permanent basis. He’s also looking at opportunities to show his art in Lake Norman, N.C., where his daughter now resides.
In the meantime, Newton and many other collectors and artisans will appear from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Collectors’ Expo taking place in the historic Buffalo Irish Center, located at 245 Abbott Road in South Buffalo. The first-time event will feature items such as sports memorabilia, original artwork, local products, coins, stamps, antiques, trains, toys, records, comic books, music/theatre memorabilia, political memorabilia and more. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Dog Ears Bookstore, South Buffalo Alive and the Buffalo Irish Center.
“I hope the entire community will come out and support this event,” Newton concluded. “I look forward to taking part and introducing my artwork to the local community as I once again begin pursuit of my artistic dream.”