Scooby Snack, oil on wood 10x16"

Scoutmaster oil on wood 18x24"

Mr. Badanov, oil on canvas, 9"x12"
Elliott Fouts Gallery

oil on canvas 36x48"

Lou Pine, oil on canvas 8x10"

Elliott Fouts Gallery
East Bay Express, Oakland CA
All Too Real, By Kelly Vance
April 2006 

There’s a certain narrative expectancy in Kenney Mencher’s paintings. Even in his relatively docile portraits of such characters as Mr. Badanov or Lou Pine, we sense a story unfolding. But when Mencher really lets his subjects roar, as in Apocrypha or Scoutmaster, his realism takes an abrupt turn into the realm of danger -- or cartoon psychodrama, as in the case of Scooby Snack, in which a character in a dog suit interacts with a half-dressed woman. The East Bay artist’s realistic exploration of bizarre and frankly sexual scenarios – a whiff of Edward Hopper, a blast of Mickey Spillane, a rrowf of David Lynch – has landed him in hot water before. Employees at a San Francisco gallery displaying his works found them too disturbing to put up with, and four paintings in a Sacramento art show were removed, also because of gallery employees’ complaints.

 But this is Oakland. Similes and Sayings, an exhibition of Mencher’s paintings and works on paper, is hanging at the new Esteban Sabar Gallery now through May 29. You can take in much of the show online by going to, where the New York native, an associate professor of art and art history at Ohlone College in Fremont, also provides a detailed workshop on his technique: “Painterly Realism: Constructing a Painting from Your Photographs.” Sabar Gallery, in the midst of Oakland’s uptown, is open Thursdays through Mondays. Through May 29  Esteban Sabar Gallery, 480 23rd St., Oakland