Michael McKinnell is accustomed to the public viewing his work as an award-winning architect, whose firm has designed buildings around the globe, from Boston City Hall to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.
Both he and Stephanie Mallis, a principal at the Boston-based Kallmann McKinnell & Wood and his wife, have another creative outlet; it’s their painting, which has been done behind closed doors.
Now, however, the two will unveil their art work in public for the first time ever at Mercury Gallery in Rockport, where they both reside in addition to their Boston apartment. In a coming-out-party of sorts, there is a free public reception on Saturday from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
“Taken together, the works are a visually stirring survey of colors and shapes, which often merge figuration and abstraction,” said Amnon Goldman, the gallery director.
McKinnell co-founded the firm in 1962. When he was a graduate student at Columbia University, he met Professor Gerhard Kallmann, and the pair submitted the winning design for Boston City Hall. He was 26 years old at the time. Other local buildings of the firm’s design are the Back Bay railway station, Hynes Convention Center and the Asian wing at the Peabody Essex Museum, in addition to buildings at numerous universities.
At the age of 78, the soft-spoken bespectacled McKinnell has a new-found liberty to expose his other talents.
“You gain the freedom at a certain age to do what you want, because you just want to express yourself,” he said.
Both artists point out that drawing is a key element in both architecture and art. In fact, both were the last two in the architectural design office to begin drawing on computer, preferring the hand-drawn method. They are now working on a project at Hebrew University in Jerusalem