“Planning a Way Station” (2010)
The still life is often a vehicle for allegory in my work. I had just moved back to the DC area, after having lived in Indiana for grad school. This was a new studio space, and I was starting to do a lot of teaching. I teach at local colleges, and do quite a bit of driving around the DC metro region. The painting studio began to feel like this hub for travel. I included objects like a Washington street atlas (still very important, as I didn’t yet have a smart phone), because I was getting lost all the time! I also included my small, portable watercolor kit into this painting, to reference how I needed to think about art materials that could travel easily.
Initially, I don’t think I realized I was making a painting about travel. I started the painting as a study of the corner of my studio. Later, I started to think about how the objects had a kind of lightness, how they were so much less sedentary in their arrangement than they might have been in my previous studio. By chance, I included a sketch (lower right) of a design blueprint for something I was working on, and I started to think about how I was still in the process of designing the layout of my studio.
“Map of Atlantic States” (2011)
For a long time I had been very enamored with some of the Gideon Bok paintings of record sleeves laying on the floor, as well as Vincent Desiderio’s “Cockaigne.” It’s small crime that, even though the Hirshhorn has had that Desiderio work in its permanent collection for years now, I have yet to see it on display (maybe we need to write a petition?). Rather than placing objects on a tabletop, the floor allows the objects to exist in a much larger and deeper space. In the case of the works by Bok and Desiderio, these objects really help establish a sense of scale, as everyone has a pretty good idea how large a book or record sleeve is in real life.
I wanted to try something an arrangement of a few books on the floor (artists monographs, maps, old sketchbooks). I like the way that these books can be both an abstraction, highly simplified images that are essentially thumbnails, and yet also a kind of Easter egg for some viewers. It is like listening to a dance or hip hop track that has cleverly inserted a sample from an obscure song few people know. The books allow me to include the element of collage, without losing the sense of light or form.
I included a map of the Northeast U.S. (this is where the title comes from), a book with two Balthus landscapes, a book with two Lucien Freud figures, a sketchbook, and a magnifying lens that will unfortunately never allow the viewer to really get a closer look at these images.
Brian Kelley was born in Fairfax, VA. He has an MFA in Painting from Indiana University and a BA from the College of William and Mary. He has exhibited nationally and lectured at several schools, including George Washington University, the College of William and Mary, George Mason University, Prince George’s Community College, Anne Arundel Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, and the Washington Studio School. Recent exhibition venues include First Street Gallery (NYC), William and Mary’s Andrews Gallery (VA), Muscarelle Museum of Art (VA), Linda Matney Gallery (VA), Charles H. Taylor Arts Center (VA), DCAC Gallery (DC), Porch Projects (DC), Brentwood Arts Exchange (MD), Capitol Arts Network (MD), and HUB-BUB Showroom Gallery (SC). His portfolio includes painting, drawing, printmaking, and digital work. He was briefly a member of ASTM and has made his own paints and inks for both himself and other artists. Brian Kelley also has been a broadcast DJ for WCWM (VA) and WIUX (IN).
Brian Kelley lives in Fairfax, VA.