the day Peter Kudlata designs beautiful landscapes as the owner
of Flagstone Landscaping; at night he’s creating abstract
Growing up in a
large family in Fox Point, Peter Kudlata quickly learned that he could
earn extra cash by cutting grass in his neighborhood. So, even as an
English major at St. Norbert College, he’d hitchhike home on
weekends to keep up with a growing lawn care gig that helped pay for
years later, Kudlata’s Cedarburg-based Flagstone Landscaping firm
designs and builds exquisite outdoor environments. About seven years
ago, Kudlata expanded his palette from the outside world to paint
interior landscapes of emotion.
Both of those
talents are evident in Kudlata’s sleek, contemporary home in Mequon,
where soaring windows frame stunning garden views. Just in front of a
quiet pond, a boxwood hedge surrounds plantings of stately allium in
spring, replaced by spikes of blue salvia in summer.
Kudlata says he
likes to use hedges in landscaping projects, because they bring
definition and order to a space. But his abstract acrylic paintings
are more explosive, in form, color and mood.
know where your painting is going," he explains. "It’s
a wall in his loft studio is a large canvas he thought was done, with
a thick, dark border and swipes of intense red punctuating the center.
Now he sees that it needs something more. He’ll keep working until
always been interested in art and design, and he and his colleagues at
Flagstone Landscaping still draw all of their plans by hand.
In the several
years that he has been painting, Kudlata has finished more than 100
works of art, influenced by Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and other
abstract masters. Many of Kudlata’s works are displayed throughout
his home, turning the spaces into showstopping galleries
he says, are created primarily at the end of the day. He often paints
to music, but just as often with a cable cooking channel or football
game as background noise.
almost like a sport, it’s so physical," he says.
Most of Kudlata’s
work is untitled, letting the viewer interpret its meaning. He has
noticed that the paintings are like a journal of his state of mind at
the time he was creating them, so they vary from deep swaths of darker
hues to kaleidoscopes of bright colors dancing across the canvas.
said I was just going to do it for myself," he says, but mentors
like Milwaukee artists Terry Coffman, Claudette Lee and Pamela
Anderson pushed him to reach for more.
Kudlata had a
summer show at the Delafield Art Center, and his work was featured at
Gallery 2622 in Wauwatosa. Some of his paintings are also on exhibit
in a Chicago gallery.
Quite a few of
Kudlata’s paintings reflect his passion for cycling, and several
have been published in a book focused on bike art. Bikes, he says, are
a great metaphor for living — the cyclist goes up, down, slow, fast,
depending on how much effort is put into the ride. They also represent
that first taste of pure freedom, when a grown-up "lets go of the
seat for the very first time, and that starts your journey."