Philly’s Freedom Art Show

Two of my paintings are featured in a new show at the Philadelphia National Liberty Museum. See the details below.

On view October 16, 2020 – February 13, 2021
10:00AM – 7:00PM
(Special priority access for seniors and immunocompromised individuals from 10-11AM each day.) Click here for location and details.

Diverse Voices. One City.

How do we define “liberty”? What does it mean to be “free”? These are questions and concepts that we have grappled with at the National Liberty Museum for more than 20 years and ones we posed to a group of talented artists from across Philadelphia in our newest exhibition, Philly’s Freedom.

Through more than 75 works of art, Philly’s Freedom invites you on a journey to explore what freedom means to 50+ artists as they use stories, reflections, and images to inspire us to see freedom and liberty as an ongoing human quest we all share.

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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.

A Walt Whitman Sampler

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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!

 

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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

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.

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

 

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!

 

 

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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.)

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“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

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#vangogh @the_barnes @kellymcquain

Conference and Reading: Kicking off Poetry Month!

Happy poetry month! I’m doing two events to kick off the celebration. the first is a panel at the Rosemont College LitLife conference. Click here for details. Tim Seibles, a wonderful Philly poet who now teaches in Virginia (where he is the poet laureate for the state!) is just one of the amazing poets at the conference. I met Tim a few years ago when he read for us at the college where I work. What a great guy! I’ll be doing a panel on creating images with the wonderful poet Dawn Manning. Look for us there on April 1st.

And, speaking of my college, Community College of Philadelphia, our Poets & Writers Festival comes to a conclusion this coming Monday with a free event below. Check it out!

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Monday, April 3, 2017

6 – 8 p.m.
Klein Cube, Room P2-03

The Community College of Philadelphia Spring Faculty Showcase of Writers

Join College’s distinguished faculty members as they read from their latest poetry and prose in what has become an annual tradition. Refreshments will be served! Click here for more info!

 

The line-up includes: Jonathan Pappas; Amy Birge; Lauren Genovesi; Julie Odell; Kelly McQuain; Brian Goedde. Hosted by Jeffrey Markovitz.

Nice Mention in The Oberlin Review

A while back I posted about the book cover I drew for Kazim Ali’s Uncle Sharif’s Life in Music. Today I saw an interview with Kazim in which he gives a nice shout-out about the cover. The book is a fun, experimental mixture of stories both innocent and adult. Read the interview here.

Uncle_Sharif's_Life_in_Music_Front_Cover

Current projects, which are keeping me from posting much these days, include a short satirical comic about Trump’s election, some new poems, and a series of paintings I hope to blog about soon.

If you are looking for small press items or handmade goods, check out the Small Press Faire in Philadelphia coming up Dec. 3rd. I’ll be there, unofficially. Info here.

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