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Featured Artist: Jeff Kovalcik

Meet Featured Artist, Jeff Kovalcik!

Jeff's drawings are on display now through September 5th at our South Lamar location.

A Central Texas native, Jeff Kovalcik grew up in New Braunfels, just 50 miles south of Austin. In 2002, he began his undergraduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

When we spoke with Jeff, he recalled an experience he had during his Intro to Drawing class. While sketching the male figure, his professor asked him to experiment with white chalk on black paper (rather than charcoal on white). To Jeff, this just made sense. The technique of sculpting light seemed to come naturally.

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After graduating from UT in 2006, Jeff began working at Kerbey Lane's Northwest location. The laid-back atmosphere and flexible scheduled allowed him to continue focusing on doing what he loves—creating art.

In 2009, at the suggestion of a friend, Jeff decided to take his artistic talents into the field of mortuary science. He attended the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service in Houston, and in 2010 he returned to Austin to take a position as Funeral Director and embalmer at Cook-Walden Funeral Home.

When we asked why he chose to go into funeral services, Jeff explained that he had always been fascinated by, and comfortable with, death. This becomes obvious when viewing Jeff's artwork, which he describes as "very macabre". He also stated that he was attracted to the Funeral Director position because, Jeff said, "It sounded like such a Renaissance Man job—it involved customer service, event planning, science and art." He also took an interest in learning about the faith of different cultures, as well as their death customs.

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Feeling stressed and overworked, Jeff made the decision to leave his career in funeral services in 2013. He returned to Kerbey Lane's Northwest location and we are happy to have him back! Over the past several years he has created a body of work that we are proud to have displayed on our walls.

Jeff primarily creates his drawings (or as he likes to refer to them "scratchings") on scratchboard. These boards are created using pieces of Masonite cut into various sizes, covered in a layer of white clay and topped with India ink, which is then scratched to reveal the white layer underneath. Scratching is different from other mediums in that nothing is being added; instead, it is a substractive process. The scratchboard medium lends itself to working small, allowing Jeff to focus on very fine details using tools such as X-Acto knives and wire brushes.

You can see influences of M.C. Escher, Jeff's favorite artist, throughout his work as well as influences of the art of Alex Grey and H.R. Giger, all three of whom Jeff credits with providing inspiration.

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Currently, Jeff is working on several commissioned pieces of pet portraiture. In the future, he hopes to have art shows throughout the city of Austin.

You can see more of Jeff's artwork on his Instagram profile. The majority of his scratchings displayed at Kerbey Lane Cafe are for sale. Questions for Jeff? Email him at jeffenbach@gmail.com.