John Kascht started his art career at the age of 14 in his hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin.
This weekend, 30 years of his work comes together in an exhibit in his adopted home of Northeast Pennsylvania.
The caricature artist presents retrospective exhibit “Making Faces: Portraits by John Kascht,” which opens Friday, Feb. 2, at Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St. Kascht will be in the gift shop from 5 to 8 p.m. to meet patrons and sign posters on the opening day.
As a young teenager, Kascht drew political cartoons for a newspaper in Waukesha. Eventually, he realized he preferred portraits over politics and pursued a different path.
“I realized at some point that I wasn’t interested in politics or being a political commentator, but people and drawing portraits,” Kascht said. “In spite of early beginnings as a political cartoonist, I split from that and went in the direction of portraits and caricatures.”
After years of working in illustrator and designer positions at different newspapers across the country, Kascht became a freelance artist and created caricatures for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post and more.
Throughout his career, Kascht has created caricatures of numerous politicians and celebrities, many of which will be on display at the Everhart.
“People can expect to see an overload of wrinkles, jowls, foreheads, slouches and posture. People can expect a fun show,” Kascht said. “One of the things I’m pleased about is that it’s enjoyable. Anybody, even people who don’t like art, can go and have a good time.”
Opening day of the exhibition is free and open to the public. The exhibit remains on display until Monday, May 7. According to Kascht, “Making Faces” will not just feature “funny pictures,” but explanations of the “work and sincere thinking” that went into the process of creating them.
“I think caricatures are often seen as a negative art form that makes fun of people, but that’s not how I approach it. It’s seeing what makes a person unique and bringing out those characteristics. Hopefully it’s a show that celebrates us and celebrates humanity.”
Kascht said he never decided to be a caricaturist; it’s just always been with him. As a child, he used to follow his parents and friends around, mimicking the way they walked and talked. His interests in impersonation and drawing merged, he said.
“I had an instinct to impersonate people,” he said. “Caricatures are a visual form of impersonation, and my interest grew out of that instinct to mimic or impersonate the people around me.”
Additionally, watching his father, a forensic scientist, perform autopsies had an influence on his art and taught him about human anatomy and physiology while he was growing up. While it isn’t obvious at first glance, natural science and caricatures can overlap, he said.
“People think of it as cartooning, but there’s really a kind of scientific mindset,” he said. “You look at a face or body and what makes it unique. Like a scientist, you think ‘what’s going on here?’”
Kascht will be part of upcoming events at the museum. He will conduct tours of his exhibition at the Everhart on Thursday, March 22. This event costs $25 per person and includes light refreshments at 6 p.m. Tours will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. On Saturday, April 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., Kascht will be one of the presenters in a new, free monthly series at the Everhart, “Tête-à-Tête: An Everhart Conversation.”
When the exhibit closes in Scranton, “Making Faces” will travel to Kascht’s hometown of Waukesha and then move its way out west. While he’s been involved with group exhibitions, this is his first solo and traveling exhibition.
“I’m really excited about this exhibition,” he said. “I love the Everhart Museum and I think it’s gonna be great. I’m pleased to open to the hometown crowd and be starting it here.”
If You Go
What: The Everhart Museum presents the exhibition “Making Faces: Portraits by John Kascht”
Where: The Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St.
When: Friday, Feb. 2 through May 7
Details: Kascht will meet patrons and sign posters on opening day from 5 to 8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit everhart-museum.org.
— Brooke Williams