Cosmo Kid bangs out worlds from fire
By LANCE ROTHSTEIN
With paper, knife, wood, newsprint, paint and a lighter, this
artist creates universes for the county fair
Lance A. Rothstein]|
Kenyon, 26, picked up his art form after leaving New Jersey to
follow the carnival circuit. Now the Cosmo Kid, Kenyon wows
audiences with his otherworldly three-minute pieces. Kenyon is
now making his art live at the Pasco County Fair.
DADE CITY - Todd Kenyon is different.
Sure, he might blend in while in such places as Ybor City or
Miami. But at the Pasco County Fair, with a pierced tongue, spiked
hair, a tie-dyed T-shirt and fingernails of more than eight colors,
he stands out in the sea of cowboy boots, jeans and baseball
Kenyon, 26, is known as the Cosmo Kid, an artist who combines
spray paint artwork with sideshow-style dramatics. Working with
spray paint on coated paper, he is able to create a piece of art
that looks like a cross between work by Boris Vallejo, Salvador Dali
and the Florida Highwaymen.
The Cosmo Kid starts by gathering a crowd in P.T. Barnum
"Gather 'round. You've never seen anything like this before," he
With techno music emanating from twin speakers behind him, he
lays out a blank sheet of paper about 2 feet by 2 feet. Working with
a palette knife, scraps of newspaper, pieces of wood and his can of
spray paint, he creates a window into another world. In just three
minutes, he will have made a black hole in outer space with an
interior scene of palm trees on a sandy beach, or a waterfall
streaming over a quasar.
People are drawn to the spectacle that Kenyon becomes when he is
working. He uses a cigarette lighter to dry the paint when he is
finished with a piece. Often, people will say they want to buy the
piece before it's even complete.
As Kenyon sets up Friday, he begins a new piece. The fair has not
even opened, but several workers and volunteers hang out at the tent
to watch him work. Among them is volunteer Doris Prokopi of Land
"I've been volunteering at this fair for 10 years, and I've never
seen anything like this," she said.
Before he became the Cosmo Kid, Kenyon worked for several years
on the carnival circuit. Working at different game booths and food
stands, he saw the midway as a chance to get out of New Jersey.
"I knew if I stayed where I was living, that I wasn't going
anywhere." he says. "With no money and no car, the carnival was the
best vehicle I could see to get out."
Kenyon ran into a spray artist named Ace at a carnival in Orlando
about nine years ago.
"You ever get that feeling when you know you want to do
something?" Kenyon said. "I haven't figured out why he wanted to
teach me, but he did. And after a few months he just said, "Okay
that's it,' and he sent me out on my own."[Last modified February 21, 2004, 01:31:48]
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