It’s the type of statement that somehow makes sense coming from an artist.
“This is my 14th move in the last 10 years.”
Gentry Warren laughs when talking about the past decade of his life. After growing up in a small town in northwest Missouri, Gentry has lived all over the country. San Francisco. Denver. Chicago. Boston.
“I’ve hit all of the continental time zones,” he said.
He spent a good chunk of time in the restaurant business, particularly as a pastry chef. But when the Covid pandemic put a hurting on the restaurant industry, he started thinking about a more secure future.
“I realized then it was time to look at other avenues,” he said. “I had a good friend that had gone to Pitt State, so I came down here to go to school.
“What I didn’t expect was for my art to kind of explode here in Pittsburg.”
Gentry, an accomplished painter with a passion for bright, bold colors, will present his first gallery show in July at the Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin. He credits a Pittsburg bookstore for the opportunity.
“Shortly after moving to Pittsburg, I met Darcie Shultz from Books and Burrow,” he said. “She is very supportive of my art, and I’ve had works hanging in Books and Burrow since last September. Before then, all of my stuff was just Instagram-based, but nothing beats seeing it in person.
“From there, it’s kind of just taken off. I never expected that would happen when moving here. It’s really incredible.”
Gentry, who is majoring in Political Science at Pittsburg State University, said he started painting in 2015 as a way to sleep better.
“I was in San Francisco at the time, and I just could never get a full eight hours of good sleep,” he said. “So I took up painting and almost immediately started sleeping for eight hours. It was a cure for my insomnia. Then people would see my work and ask if I wanted to sell it.”
Gentry’s show in Joplin is titled, “Color Is My Love Language.” Colors, he said, can inspire and uplift.
“I don’t watch scary movies for the same reason I don’t paint in drab colors,” he said. “There is already enough of that in the world. My goal is to do the opposite. I want there to be more color, more happiness, more understanding in the world.
“It is an artist’s responsibility to address the issues around them, but I believe there is a way to do that colorfully.”
Upon graduation from Pitt State, Warren has his sights set on a somewhat peculiar occupation for a poet and artist.
“My ultimate goal is to work in the French government,” he said. “I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures. I can remember being a kid and always having a world atlas open. And I love French culture. So that’s my dream.”
Learn more about Gentry and his art on his website.