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Author: Pat Summers. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January
19, 2000. All rights reserved.
Kenya’s Moments of Light & Shadow
In Darkness and Light," the theme of Kevin Patrick
Kelly’s solo exhibition at the Arts Council of Princeton, continuing
through Friday, January 28, could also describe the juxtaposition
of his vibrant paintings and assemblages with the gloomy New Jersey
rainy day visible and audible through WPA Gallery windows on the day
I visited. But "Reflections of Kenya" completes the show’s
title — and begins an enjoyable walk through about 20 works by
Kelly, mostly high-colored acrylic paintings, but a few
pieces too, and four preliminary color sketches.
Kelly visited Kenya late last summer, spending about a month in a
town called Maralal, where he lived with missionaries while teaching
painting to children and young adults from the region’s various
He returned with photographs of the landscape, animals, and people
he encountered in Kenya — the "Light" of the title —
and he says "Darkness" refers to the level of despair, a
of pervasive poverty, that he witnessed there.
Who could not love this "Under the Night Sky" scene: three
glow-in-the-dark zebras stand under saw-tooth palm fronds that fringe
a cobalt sky lit with random gold-blob stars, surrounded by bright
yellow banana bunches, surrealistically floating in air and on the
ground. This large painting is surrounded by a border of sienna-toned
wood placed inside the frame. Or "In The Footsteps of Giants,"
a ground of choppy green and blue brush strokes supports pink
with beaks at tree-leaf height, before a purple mountain range and
under an orange sky. Wood-surrounded also, this time in a red-orange
shade, "Footsteps" also illustrates another of Kelly’s
trademarks: text on the surface. In a contrasting shade, one word,
"Risen" appears in the orange sky.
The artist says the text he often includes in his paintings is not
meant to explain it, but to add another dimension. Accordingly, he
would not explain "Risen," wanting each viewer to interpret
it personally in regard to the image. (But it’s very clear that those
birds have, well, risen to reach the foliage. Kelly says he was
to learn that ostriches are so tall — 10 to 15-feet high, so you
could probably also say the birds have risen in his estimation.) In
one of his largest paintings, "A Voice Proclaimed," the words
"You are a glorious crown" appear over a left-to-right cloud
that dominates the canvas.
Blue tree leaves or trunks, purple mountains, orange skies — as
a colorist, Kelly is today’s Fauve, and welcome to him. His paintings
compel attention and suggest both childlike whimsy, in their colors
and simplified shapes, and a serious desire to convey the area of
Kenya and its people that he came to know. A slim photo album on hand
in the Arts Council’s WPA Gallery includes views of warriors in full
regalia whom Kelly encountered, and animals (some in the nearby
National Reserve), ranging from cows to giraffes and lions to zebras.
The net result is highly appealing.
For more conventional subject matter, though still handled with the
same vivacious palette, there’s "The Outward Rising,"
flowers on a yellow ground, then turquoise wood matting inside a
frame. "In the Course of the Day" shows a man, bent under
the burden borne on his back, walking diagonally along a row of banana
trees and away from a white house. On his right are striking,
trees. His crimson neckerchief provides a focal point from which to
roam around the picture.
"Of Vultures and Cows," an ominous-sounding combination, moves
Kelly’s paintings into the realm of collage, and extends out from
the wall in steps, starting with the black frame, than a cobalt
onto which is affixed a painting of trees, one topped with three
silhouettes. Three separate images of cows on white paper over torn
corrugated paper are placed on top of the "vulturescape."
The assemblage titled "Light and Heat" shows in capsule form
the basic means for making both: bunches of twigs. Centered in a white
ladder-like structure climbing the wall is a painting of a native
man, wrapped in deep blue, bending over. Fastened to the ladder above
and below him: a bunch of twigs. "Through Which My Wonder Comes
to Be" is a glass-doored cabinet with three inside shelves
in descending order, an easel with brushes, dried colors, and
paper; a crumpled shirt wholly speckled with multi-colored paint;
a pair of color-coordinated shoes — all evidently the artist’s
well-worn, well-used gear.
Kelly doesn’t paint en plein air, preferring instead
to work from memory, which he says "illuminates the
and makes his work more conceptual than perceptual. Some pictures
are derived from photographs or from his journals. Now a Brother of
the Congregation of the Metuchen Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Kelly
says, "My faith life plays a giant role in my paintings, and
is my ministry. I use it in the community to engage people in the
visual arts. All my paintings are offerings." He also works with
pediatric oncology patients at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital.
Although born in Maryland in the mid-’60s, Kelly grew up in Union
County, New Jersey, the fourth of five children. Neither parent was
artistic — his mother worked in retailing and his father was an
accountant with Western Electric — but they were
supportive of my art work," he recalls, and in their retirement,
became serious foreign-film buffs. Kelly earned a fine arts degree
from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and his younger brother
is a musician.
Always involved with art of some kind, Kelly also has music-making
and puppeteering in his background. He founded, played guitar, and
sang in bands while in high school, and beyond, making acclaimed CDs
and touring the U.S. and Europe with "Chicken Scratch." He
has also worked with the Bread and Puppet Theater of Vermont —
and has taught a few puppetry courses at the Arts Council, where he
has already had one solo show. Kelly fits the profile — emerging
artist, not widely exhibited — for those who show work in the
WPA Gallery, says the Arts Council’s Mark Germond. Besides that, he
adds, Kelly is great with people of all ages. (And shall we add
— Pat Summers
"In Darkness & Light: Reflections of Kenya," recent paintings
by Kevin Patrick Kelly. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Continues
to January 28.
"On the Edge," chrome prints of slot canyons of the Southwest
by Ingeborg Snipes. Open by appointment during school hours, to
"Slot canyons are found in the high desert country," explains
Snipes, whose current work is based on photographs made in northern
Arizona and southern Utah. "Scant rainfall tends to come all at
once, creating flash floods. These course through the narrow canyons,
scouring the sandstone into the unusual shapes depicted."
Lawrenceville, 609-620-6026. "Striving Struggling,"
an exhibition of sculpture and related works by Elice Slafka. To
4. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; except
Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.
In the Merwick unit library: "Paintings of Fred and Jennie
to March 9. Part of proceeds benefit the medical center. Open 8 a.m.
to 7 p.m. daily.
Street, 609-921-9292. "Going Global: Contemporary fine art from
around the world spanning Princeton, New Jersey, to Reykjavik,
Princeton artists include Michael Berger, Jane Eccles, Richard Erdman,
and Robert Sakson; from farther afield, Tanya Kohn, Karolina
Salvatore Magazzini, and Mary Stork. To January 22.
Large Format Prints of the 1960s and 1970s," continues to April
2. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free tours of the collection are every Saturday
at 2 p.m.
The permanent collection features a strong representation of Western
European paintings, old master prints, and original photographs.
of Chinese, Pre-Columbian Mayan, and African art are considered among
the museum’s most impressive. Not housed in the museum but part of
the collection is the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection of
outdoor sculpture, with works by such modern masters as Henry Moore,
Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and George Segal located throughout
609-258-4790. "Dreamscapes," an exhibition of paintings
by WWS alumna Alexandra Isaievych. Combining her passion for art with
an interest in public policy and economics, Isaievych has worked on
economic assistance programs in Ukraine, an experience that has
her conviction that "art which provides inspiration for reclaiming
the dignity of the human spirit is as essential as good economic
To January 31.
"Picture Trenton," a major exhibition of art in all media
with views of Trenton as the subject, co-sponsored with Artsbridge,
Artworks, and TAWA. To February 20. Museum hours are Tuesday through
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
609-586-0616. Fall-Winter Exhibition. In the Museum and Domestic Arts
Building, "Beverly Pepper," one-artist show. On the mezzanine,
a thematic photography show, "Focus on Sculpture." Shows
to April 16. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m., and by appointment.
New additions to the 22-acre landscaped sculpture park include works
by Michele Oka Doner, David Hostetler, J. Seward Johnson Jr.,
Leiro, John Martini, and Joseph Menna. The park is on the former state
fairgrounds site, with indoor exhibitions in the glass-walled, 10,000
square foot museum, and renovated Domestic Arts Building.
609-292-6464. "Unseen Treasures: Imperial Russia and the New
an exhibit of historic treasures of the Russian empire. The dazzling
collection of 300 art objects and artifacts from Russian’s famed State
Historical Museum and State Archive is displayed in five historical
settings. Show remains on view through April 16. Admission $10 adults;
$8.50 seniors and students; $6 children. Advance ticket purchase at
800-766-6048 or online at http://www.tickets.com. Exhibit is
open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to
6 p.m. Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The dazzling collection of over 300 art objects and artifacts from
Russia’s famed State Historical Museum and the State Archive are being
seen for the first time outside the Russian Museum since its recently
completed 10-year renovation.
The exhibition takes the visitor on a unique journey beginning with
the formation of the Russian American Company in 1799 and spanning
a period of 200 years and 6,000 miles. From the Imperial Court of
St. Petersburg through the Russian winter in Siberia to the New World
of Alaska and Northern California and back to Moscow for the
of Alexander II, the exhibit tells an adventurous story of heroism,
romance, and spiritual enlightenment through the experiences of real
people who shaped Russian-American relations in the 18th and 19th
Also "The Modernists," an exhibition of gems from the
collection by Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Harley, Georgia
O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, Helen Torr, and others, to January 23.
"The Regionalists and Precisionists," with works by Thomas
Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, Stuart Davis, Francis Picabia, and
George Ault, to January 30. On extended view: "Dinosaur Turnpike:
Treks through New Jersey’s Piedmont"; "Amber: The Legendary
Resin"; "The Moon: Fact & Fiction."
609-695-0061. "Art from 19th Century to the Present," plus
antiques and interior design. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday,
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
609-895-7307. "Looking at the World: Work by Barry Snyder and
William H. Selesnick." To March 10. Exhibit is open Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Street, New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "The Hungarian Spark in
an exhibit highlighting Hungarian contributions to the arts, sciences,
humanities, commerce, religious and civic life in America. To January
31. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday,
1 to 4 p.m. $3 donation. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11
a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $3 donation.
School of the Arts Galleries, Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick,
ext. 838. Annual Fellowship Exhibition continues to February 11. Also,
a retrospective exhibition of works on paper by Juan Sanchez.
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "The Enduring Figure, 1890s to 1970s:
Sixteen Sculptures from the National Association of Women
Show continues to March 12 when the museum closes for renovation,
through mid-October. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Free.
609-799-6706. "Portraits in Other Objects" by Eric Montoya,
an artist who exhibits in Los Angeles and New York. The show features
oil portraits whose forms are comprised of other narrative elements.
To February 12. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 11
a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The gallery celebrates its fourth year and a new exhibition season
featuring 12 gallery co-op members presenting shows that change
Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Witty three-dimensional constructions by Ted Crane continues through
February. Crane is a member of the Class of 1945 at Princeton and
a self-trained artist; he is publisher of the Begell House. Tuesday
to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
609-683-8092. Featuring color and black-and-white photographs by Harry
Rubel who has been making photographs for 45 years. Also works by
Patrice Sprovieri, Wayne Mathisen, Annelies van Dommelen, and Susan
Setteducato. Also exhibiting Hsu Dan, Tom Chesar, Larry Chestnut,
Calvin Hart, Clem Fiori, Leslie Neumeyer, Leyla Spencer, Janet Landau,
Jacob Landau, Ellyn Gerberding, and Marge Levine. Monday-Friday, 10
a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday to 9; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Road, 609-921-3272. "Out of the Blue," new paintings by the
physically challenged artists working with Artistic Realization
the brainchild of artist Tim Lefens. Begun with students of the
School and Hospital, and now extended to five New Jersey facilities,
the artists use a laser pointer and an able-bodied "tracker"
to apply paint to canvas. The results, writes Susan Abdulezer, are
"canvases from students whose bodies are frozen, but whose minds
are volcanic." To February 26. Gallery hours are Tuesdays to
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
215-340-9800. "Let Children Be Children: Lewis Hine’s Crusade
Against Child Labor," an exhibition of historic photographs from
the early 20th century. To February 27. Website:
Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m. $5 adults; $1.50 students; children free.
Also on view, an exhibition of figurative outdoor sculpture by
artist Barry Johnston, to March 5; and "Recent Gifts: 19th and
20th-Century Photographs from Alexander Novak and Family," to
609-397-2226. Pastel landscapes by Julia Akers Gribbin, to January
609-397-2300. A show of Charles Fazzino’s whimsical, three-dimensional
paper constructions on big subjects that include New York,
sports, and the law. To February 28. Open Wednesday through Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m.
Recent work by James Feehan is featured at the gallery that represents
100 area artists. Gallery hours Monday to Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m.;
Thursday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.
to 7 p.m. To February 15.
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