Art Show at Grasshopper Gallery

“Fantastic Creatures of the Highlands” – Featuring work by Kelly McQuain

June 27th – August 14th, 2020

Grasshopper Gallery at Lost River Trading Post
295 E. Main Street
Wardensville, WV 26851
Store: 304-874-3300

Fox birds in one of McQuain’s paintings
Kelly McQuain next to three of his paintings

About the Artist: Kelly McQuain grew up surrounded by the lush mountains of West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. This proved a rich source of inspiration for his artistic imagination and his development of a style influenced by folk art and laden with evocative symbolism.

These works in watercolor and acrylic reflect the artist’s practice of layering paint in different ways.  “Whether on canvas or paper, I generally start a work with abstract layers of color laid down in soft washes,” McQuain states. “Then I tease out different forms based on how the washes speak to me. I try to let old layers peek through as I add new ones, conjuring figures and tiny details. It’s not my goal to transcribe nature in a realistic way. Rather, I try to find the essence of a thing and use dreamlike imagery to convey its spirit.”

Take a virtual tour below!

Video tour of Grasshopper Gallery art show featuring work by Kelly McQuain, Summer 2020.
“Never Stop Dreaming” Kelly McQuain

The result is a body of work rich with enchanting motifs. In some portraits, for instance, tiny robots appear, hinting at humankind’s need to reconcile life with technology and ever-advancing artificial intelligence. In other works, like “Fox Birds Hiding in the Brush”, a mash-up of birds and animals appear. Floral shapes also abound, evoking the exotica of the imagination as well as the wildflowers of McQuain’s youth. While McQuain is adept at painting human and animal forms, he often uses silhouettes to suggest the iconic power of his subjects. “Shape and pattern are as important to me as the richness of my colors,” McQuain notes. “I like images that pop, that have a sense of mystery and playfulness about them, that hint at stories.”

McQuain’s work hangs in many private collections. He recently displayed works at the Barnes Collection and the William Way Center in Philadelphia, the latter of which awarded him a showcase exhibit. His three-dimensional work celebrating the 200th birthday of poet Walt Whitman is currently on display at the Free Library of Philadelphia. McQuain’s portraits of writers appear regularly on the cover of the literary journal, Fjords Review—reflecting another interest of his: poetry. As a writer, McQuain’s poems have appeared in scores of national journals, and his poetry chapbook, Velvet Rodeo, won the Bloom prize. McQuain works as a professor of creative writing in Philadelphia when he’s not visiting family and friends in his home state.

www.KellyMcQuain.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/grasshoppergalleryatlostrivertradingpost/  @grasshoppergalleryatlostrivertradingpost

“Sunshine Flowers” Kelly McQuain

New Work at Cerulean Arts Jury Show

Artist Ying Lee has chosen one of my works for the 8th Annual Juried Exhibition at Cerulean Arts Gallery in Philadelphia, July 1-Aug. 9th. During Covid-19 times, to schedule a visit with the gallery, contact them here. For more information about my artwork, visit Art for Sale.

UPDATE: 6/29/2020 — Juror Ying Lee awarded my painting an Honorable Mention. It’s pictured at the end of the second row in the image below.

Whitman Sampler Talk at Free Library of Philadelphia

UPDATE: Due to COVID-19, my artist’s talk at the Free Library of Philadelphia has been cancelled. I’ll provide updates if something changes in the future. –Kelly

Original post:

So this is happening in April. Come if you can!

 Fri, April 24, 2020 3:00 p.m.Add to your calendar
First Floor Gallery West at Parkway Central Library

Join Voyages by Road and Sea featured artist Kelly McQuain in the West Gallery for an up-close look at his Whitman Sampler. McQuain will share the origin of this unique sculpture and explain the significance of its hidden parts.

https://libwww.freelibrary.org/calendar/event/99307


Detail of Whitman Sampler.

What is the Whitman Sampler?

The Whitman Sampler is a box designed to delight and surprise. It became a way for me to slip inside Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and grapple anew with the good gray poet’s famous life’s work. I think of it as a visual poem, an homage to Whitman’s opus and an educational tool.

Based on an advent calendar, each box of the Sampler opens to reveal excerpts of Whitman’s verse as well as found objects repurposed to reflect and critique his text. My hope is that curious viewers will use the Sampler as a springboard for investigating Whitman’s poetry more fully. Think of it as play, a means to see how Whitman’s myriad ideas echo and resonate against each other in a visual way.

A Walt Whitman Sampler

WhitmanSampler1

 

Nov. 15, 2019

My art project on Walt Whitman, “A Whitman Sampler” is now on display at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s exhibition, Voyages by Road and Sea: Philadelphia Perspectives on Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. The artwork is now installed in the West Gallery at the Parkway Central Library, Free Library of Philadelphia, located on the Ben Franklin Parkway. This project is a collaboration of the Free Library and the Rosenbach Center and features historical context on the authors as well as newly commissioned artwork related to the works of Melville and Whitman.

That’s where I come in. The Library commissioned artwork from me that consists of a box similar to an advent calendar. Each box contains pictures and text that correspond with Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Part puzzle, part Whitman fortune-telling device, the box is designed as an interactive tool to help readers engage with the Great Gray Bard in a new and compelling way. In the spring I will be participating in an event where I take the box out of its display case to show off its possibilities. Time and date to be announced.

Special thanks to the team that created the exhibition: graphic designer Nathanael Roesch, writer/editor Clare Fentress, registrar Jobi Zink, FLP Deputy Director Andrew Nurkin, the Rosenbach’s Alexander Ames, and co-curator Professor Ed Whitley. In the coming year, a series of related events and programs in support of the exhibition will be held. Watch for details!

 

Voyages1

Update: On the back of the sampler there is an illustration of Walt for the 21st century, departing as air, waiting for us along life’s path in the grass beneath our soles/souls:

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Art Opening, Fri. July 12th, 2019 in Philadelphia

The next William Way LGBTQ Community Center art exhibition will be “Queer-Americans: Who We Are” with art from Kelly McQuain, Amy Martin, and the artist known as alkotó. The opening reception will be Friday July 12th, 6-8 pm and the show runs through August 30th at 1315 Spruce Street, Phila. PA 19107. Amy Martin’s paintings and drawings unapologetically declare her Queer femme vision. alkotó creates multi-layer abstract paintings arising out of an inclusive process of discovery and invention. Kelly McQuain presents painted narratives addressing our hopes and despair about our relationships with technology, nature, and each other. McQuain, Martin, and alkotó were awarded this July’s exhibition as well as a cash jury prize last fall for their submissions to the LGBT center’s annual community group show.

More at
https://www.broadstreetreview.com/wnwn/art-and-identity-in-queer-america

City Hall Art Opening, May 15, 2019

Faun in a Field of Flowers [detail] – watercolor

Dear Friends: Free art opening at City Hall this week! I have a piece in the show. Wednesday evening May 15th. Please come if you can after work. Here are the details on the show, called Visual Democracy, with the theme inspired by Walt Whitman as part of Literary Arts Week in Philadelphia.

“Join us in celebrating Literary Arts Week in Philadelphia by recognizing the Rittenhouse Writers Group, Mighty Writers, Philadelphia Young Playwrights and Blue Stoop – Philadelphia organizations supporting local emerging writers. Festivities will include a reception, a poetry reading by a special guest, and the opening of Visual Democracy, an Art in City Hall exhibit that celebrates the connection between the literary and visual arts as part of Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy.”

#Whitmanat200 #Whitman200

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
City Hall Philadelphia

Ceremony
Mayor’s Reception Room, 202
5:30-6:00 p.m.
Reception
Conversation Hall, Room 201
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Visual Democracy Exhibit Opening
Room 116
6:00-7:00 p.m.
This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

#LitArtsPHL

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/literary-arts-week-in-philadelphia-tickets-60065903735?aff=efbeventtix&fbclid=IwAR2ulwwilshzjJMKIjMRizLpYIxGW-1-kPM-DPGuociYJcRiwltCuDv_nTw

This event is part of Whitman at 200  https://www.whitmanat200.org/

Art Update – Jury Prize Win!

12/7/2018 – UPDATE! My painting, “Well, hello there!” won the jury prize at the William Way LGBTQ Center group show. This means that I and two other winners will have a combined show during summer 2019. We each get a wall in the giant parlor that greets visitors to the center, and I plan to fill mine up with new paintings that combine images and text! There is still time to see the piece below in the current group show, which is up until December 28th. There are numerous works for sale at the Center, so why not give someone a little queer art this holiday season? Stop by. Entry is FREE. William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.

FullSizeRender

“Well, hello there!”  by Kelly McQuain, 2018.Watercolor and mixed media.

 

Too Bad for Cats

LifeboatRobot

Did you ever play that game Lifeboat, where you have one lifeboat and you have to decide who gets to jump into it? You know, priest vs. pregnant mother vs. sailor vs. rich banker vs. yadda, yadda, yadda?

There’s a similar thing called the trolley problem in situational ethics. Well, MIT is working on a database to help self-driving cars play their own version of the who-to-save game. It makes one wonder how we’ll program (teach?) all sorts of machines we will come to rely on, and how those machines in turn will have to program (teach?) ethics to that which they create. On and on… Our ethical codes are handed down to us via our myths and stories, philosophies and laws, traditions and taboos. However, the idealism they aspire toward is often left unexercised in everyday practice. Will AI face that same conundrum? In the article on the project at The Economist we learn that, sadly, cats don’t so well in this process. Not sure about kittens.

Hitchcock made a movie called Lifeboat based on a script by John Steinbeck and featuring the lovely Tallaullah Bankhead. Maybe we need a new version of Lifeboat now that we have ruined the planet. A movie featuring the Terminator, C3PO, The Jetsons’ Rosie, a Dalek and the Lost in Space robot. Maybe they should decide if we humans are worthy of shooting into the stars.

 

Lifeboat2

#RobotEthics

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2018/10/27/whom-should-self-driving-cars-protect-in-an-accident

http://moralmachine.mit.edu/

Art Opening Nov. 9, 6-8 pm

Hey, Philly friends–

I have new artwork in a group show at the William Way Center. Come if you can to the opening Friday, Nov. 9th around happy hour. Here are the details:

November 9, 6-8pm: Art Opening – 13th ANNUAL JURIED ART EXHIBITION. William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. You’re invited to the opening reception of the I hope you can make it to see the latest edition of dynamic Queer-American art in Philadelphia. Plenty of food & drinks. Lots of fun. Support the LGBTQ Community Center!

 

 

WllliamWay13

 

Barnes Update! Top 20

#LetsConnectPhilly #Art #PhillyArtDepot

Update! Recently  I wrote about the Let’s Connect! art show at Philadelphia’s famed Barnes Collection. My hipster postman mixed-media painting, “Mind, Heart, Soul” placed among the top 20 artworks out of over 310 paintings at the show. I was especially happy to see my friend Tim Barton also make the cut with his stellar wooden folk box. As a result, this coming year the other artists and I have been asked to work with the Barnes on a series of talks and lectures geared toward the public and fellow artists. It’s a very special piece to me, and I hope it will find a good home with you. (You can read more in this former post that includes my Artist Statement., which talks about how Van Gogh’s work served as inspiration.)

image1

“Mind, Heart, Soul: After Vincent’s The Postman” by Kelly McQuain, 2018

On this blog I’ve mostly posted about my work as a writer, but it’s true I also do a lot of artwork, which I’m hoping to post more about in the future. Below is my current Artist’s Bio, in case you are curious. My artwork ranges from comics and cartoons to watercolors, acrylic and the occasional oil painting. I often mix media and like to embed details and back-stories within my visual work, things that a viewer has to look twice to discover and that leave a person wanting to know more. For instance, if you look close you can tell Mr. Postman is a major Eagles fan, but perhaps not the most attentive deliveryman. I take the occasional commission and book cover project, but most works start from a strong visual idea and spool out from there, with hopes they find a buyer in the future.

About the Artist

Kelly McQuain is an artist and poet who combines words and pictures in poems, essays, book covers, comics, and large-scale canvases. His collection, Velvet Rodeo, won the Bloom Poetry Prize, and his work appears in numerous journals. He has twice held Fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Recent projects include a series of Poetry Portraits that have appeared on the cover of Fjords Review. The painting series was inspired by Barnes artist Charles Demuth, whose watercolor poster portraits of famous contemporaries included the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and William Carlos Williams. When he’s not painting, McQuain teaches creative writing, literature, and film studies at Community College of Philadelphia.

Visit the #BarnesCollection for FREE!

#letsconnectPhilly  Now through IMG_1664June 4, 2018 get free admission to the Barnes in honor of their Let’s Connect Exhibition. I’m one of 310 Philadelphia artists who have work in the show. Participating artists chose a work in the Barnes Collection that inspired them, and then did their own 8″ x 10″ work inspired by the original. (For me, the hardest part was working that small.) The public gets to visit the Barnes for free and vote for four artists who will each get a three-month studio residency at the Barnes over the next year. Admission is free to encourage public participation in voting. If you’ve never been, the permanent collection is amazing–arguably the best assemblage of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the county.  Barnes created the collection to educate artists about form and technique. My painting is titled Mind, Heart, Soul, which alludes to what Albert Barnes sought to cultivate in the students who studied the masterworks he painstakingly displayed for them. The museum is open 11 am – 5 pm Wednesday through Monday. For FREE admission, you must register in advance at

https://barnesfoundation.formstack.com/forms/connect_voter_registration.

If you go, please consider voting for #1295, my version of Van Gogh’s The Postman. Why did I choose The Postman? Here’s the Artist Statement I sent along with my project.

Albert C. Barnes didn’t collect work based on historical or social context; he assembled his works as a testament to the pleasure of form. Barnes’ method, however, poses a dilemma for contemporary artists: in this Age of (overwhelming) Information, is it possible to create work apart from the context from which it rises?

I’m drawn to a painting like Van Gogh’s The Postman not only because of its virtuoso brushwork but also because of its unintentional commentary on so many things: the bearded hipsters of my Philly neighborhood; the fact that few people write letters anymore; the way internet businesses have staved off the Postal Service’s obsolescence; that Philadelphia has offered massive tax incentives to lure Amazon.com’s new headquarters here—a bid that could turn life here on its head.

I like art that talks to me and keeps the conversation moving forward. The Barnes Collection does this, whether its founder intended it to or not. When Albert Barnes paired paintings with old hinges and primitive sculptures, he created a series of “eye rhymes”–visual pairings that call to each other and echo back. In doing so he created a living conversation about art, one that surmounts time. I’m inspired by the collection’s interplay of forms as well as its interplay of ideas. I believe that Barnes’ singular arrangement is a conceptual artwork itself. It teaches me to see the times I’m living through in new ways and to curate my life carefully. Barnes’ collection teaches me to honor the old, reflect my now, and imagine a future. That feels like a fragile message, but it’s one that needs delivering.

–Kelly McQuain, Artist Statement, May 2018

 

MindHeartSoul

image2

Image may contain: indoor

#vangogh @the_barnes @kellymcquain