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Ken Wild – Island Expressions

Ken Wild paints on the beach.While folks across the territory might know St. John resident Ken Wild as the archeologist at V.I. National Park, he’s also an artist with works on display at Michael Banzhaf gallery.

"It’s my way of relaxing. Put on a little music and enjoy the day at the beach," Wild said.

Indeed, Wild said it’s the music and the beautiful colors of St. John that inspire him even though he doesn’t paint what’s right in front of him.

Wild can often be found weekends with daughter Emily, 12, at one of St. John’s beaches. With a canvas in his lap, he creates imaginative paintings in oil.

"I like painting outside because I like the way the light hits the canvas," he said.

While his paintings aren’t usually of the beach, they include fish, people and whatever strikes his imagination.

"I scuba dive a lot so I like to paint things I see underwater, but I need to do more landscapes because they sell better," he said, laughing.

Self-taught, Wild first developed an interest in art after college. He began by copying works by Impressionist artists Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. He moved on to Norman Rockwell before painting his original works.

Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Wild graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology/archeology. He subsequently received a master’s degree in archeology from Florida State University.

He put in stints with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before moving on to the National Park Service. He worked at Biscayne Bay National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park, both in Florida, as well as assignments at parks throughout the Park Service’s Southeast Region.

"One year, I found 37 shipwrecks," Wild said.

He went to work at San Juan National Historic Site in 1995, spending some of the ensuing years working on St. John at the Trunk Bay archeological dig. In 1995, he and his wife, Kim, and their daughter made the move to St. John.

"I couldn’t be happier," he said.

Wild also has another daughter, Lauren, 26, who lives in Tallahassee.

When he’s not out painting, Wild is on the job. He’s about to start another archeological dig at Cinnamon Bay, and he’s often involved with park programs that involve the territory’s youth.

"It’s nice to be involved in the community," he said.

Wild’s work can be seen by visiting http://kwildpaintings.blogspot.com/ or www.michaelbanzhafgallery.com.

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