Theater & art


Boston street artist KDONZ makes a name for himself

MR.NVR 2013

Age: 24

Hometown: Born and raised in Groton, Conn., KDONZ currently resides in “Jamaica Plains, Boston.”

Think of: Banksy meets the Garbage Pail Kids. KDONZ’s guerrilla street art embodies all of the cartoonish, snotty grossness of ’90s Nickelodeon (“Ren & Stimpy” fans take note) with the subversive, anarchic style that characterizes unsanctioned artistic expression.


What caught our eye: Over the past few years, KDONZ has been making his mark (literally and figuratively) on the art world in galleries, on traffic signs, and sides of buildings in major cities. Following a three-week residency in a shared studio, the aptly named “Slummer Camp” exhibition (closed Aug. 24) at South Boston’s Distillery Gallery featured the art of KDONZ and his fellow campers/cohorts/collaborators, Adam O’Day and MRNVR, and garnered some significant lowbrow buzz.

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Light-bulb moment: “In my second year of college, my older brother passed away, which left me to reevaluate many things in my life. In doing so, I reverted to drawing which was a pastime I had as a kid. It became a cathartic experience, or refuge from the world around me. Soon I became addicted to this relief and [to seeing] the tangible results of all the hours I had been putting in, and haven’t stopped since.”

Biggest thrill: “The most exciting part is looking for things to paint on. I am interested in painting on found objects, and I do a good deal of searching. But when the desired object is found, I can almost immediately see what it will become. The same way you look at a cloud or a Rorschach test and interpret the image.”

Biggest surprise: “At my first solo show, someone wiped a booger on one of the centerpieces. I couldn’t decide if this was honest appreciation and attempt at participation or a flat insult. Either way, it was memorable.”

Inspired by: KDONZ cites the work of such artists as Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, R. Crumb, Ralph Steadman, Frank Miller, and Picasso as sources of aesthetic inspiration, but also attributes to his friends, family, and mentors a subtle but strong influence on his career. “There have been so many people who have contributed seemingly small bits of knowledge to my pursuit that have drastically altered and bettered my work. I think I need to mention Adam O’Day, Todd Robertson, James Wormser and Kate Ostreicher, Oliver Mak, and too many others to name. Thanks, y’all.”


Aspires to: “One day, I’d like to have a big old loft space so that my quarters won’t look like an episode of ‘Hoarders.’ I’d also like to live near a river, hang out with Bill Murray and Jeff Bridges, see someone jump the Grand Canyon. Kidding aside, I’d be happy if my life allowed me to make work until I take my dirt nap. I’m not picky.”

For good luck: “There are definitely rituals I have before making work, but that’s a story for when you’re a bit older. In terms of getting nervous before shows, a mixed drink usually does the trick.”

What people should know: “I’m pretty accident prone. I’ve broken about 20-something bones in my body.”

Coming soon: “As of right now, Adam O’Day and I are planning our next debaucherous display, and I have been cooking up some particularly offbeat and offensive works. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!”



Steph Hiltz can be reached at