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David F. Kelley at Maser Gallery Exhibition '10

David F. Kelley: Faces and Places By MARILYN J. ROWLAND
Falmouth Enterprise, February 26, 2010

David F. Kelley of Falmouth is a talented and versatile artist who creates fine art in many different styles and media, as his current show at the Maser Gallery demonstrates. The exhibit, "Faces and Places," includes pastel portraits, florals, seascapes and landscapes, watercolor animals, fantasy fish, and mixed-media creations. Several have won awards, and all are worth a look. The show ran from January 31 through March 4, 2010 in Falmouth at the Maser Gallery.

Mr. Kelley's art brightens the small gallery, which is in the Falmouth Cable Television (FCTV) studios at 310A Dillingham Avenue in Falmouth. Colorful landscapes and flowers are balanced by thoughtful pastel portraits, some of Mr. Kelley's family and friends, including his daughter, the subject of "Aileen," and others of models in the Falmouth Artists Guild's Friday life drawing class, people whose character he has had to imagine and bring to life.

David Kelley exhibition, Maser Gallery, Falmouth 2010

"The Luncheon" is Mr. Kelley's interpretation of a costumed woman at a guild fashion show luncheon. Decked out in parts from an auto supply store, in dramatic black and white, she walks by people dining at tables, all in soft focus, similar to the out-of-focus photos he had tried to take at the same event. This painting won first place for pastels at a Cape Cod Art Association show.

"Monks Pond 2," another award-winner (CCAA, second place for pastels) is one of my favorites, with its brooding sky of many colors reflected in the water, a sailboat in the distance, and many-hued shoreline vegetation off to the side.

Paired with this painting at the show is a similar pastel pondscape, "Windy Green Pond," done in clear and colorful strokes, very different in mood because of the bold use of individual strokes. This vivid composition was one of 100 paintings selected from thousands submitted to an illustration competition sponsored by North Light Books. The work was included in its book, "Strokes of Genius 2, the Best of Drawing Light and Shadow."

A dramatic portrait of a cellist is done mainly in sanguine pencil, a reddish-brown pastel pencil, very close to the color of a cello. Both the woman and her cello are rendered in the same natural shades, emphasizing the unity of musician and instrument. It is a study in the role of values, or contrast, in a painting. The woman fades a bit into the background, as the imaginary music plays in the foreground. He captured the shape and perspective of cello and cellist very well.

David Kelley exhibition, Maser Gallery, Falmouth 2010

Equally well-executed, but completely different in mood are Mr. Kelley's watercolors of dolphins and wild geese, informed by his long-term interest in animals, wildlife, and natural history museums. The colors in these two paintings are muted, but both clearly show the movement of the animals, their grace, and the magnificence of nature. Mr. Kelley was not trying for realistic representation, he said, but rather his own interpretation of the animals, and he has succeeded in giving them a life of their own.

Mr. Kelley's vibrantly hued fish are part abstract art, part fantasy illustration, and part geometric design and mixed-media composition. He plays with color and backgrounds, and the results are cheery and bright. One of his fish pieces, "Angel Reef," won a best graphic award from the guild. The fish and the dolphins were inspired by the art and culture of Florida, where he used to have a house, Mr. Kelley said.

David Kelley exhibition, Maser Gallery, Falmouth 2010

Mr. Kelley has had a long career in the arts, working as a graphic and book designer, medical and scientific illustrator, and sports photographer. He has also worked in printmaking and printing production. He drew often as a child, "until sports got in the way." He played baseball at Providence College, where he studied political science. Two weeks after graduation, he headed across town to the Rhode Island School of Art and Design, where he took a summer program and then enrolled as an art student. He started working 24 hours a day on art, "never sleeping," he said.

"For the first time in my life," said Mr. Kelley, "I was doing something that I wanted to do, apart from baseball." The philosophy at RISD was, he said, "We are going to teach you about the past, but you are the future." The focus was on teaching creativity, a completely different approach than he had encountered in his political science and philosophy studies.

The approach has helped him figure out different ways to create art, to break through the barriers and see his subject and interpretation differently: in essence, taking it apart and putting it back together again in new ways.

When he encountered difficult design problems, he would say, "David Kelley can't do this. But what would Picasso do?" By mentally stepping away from the job and imagining how someone else might handle it, he was able to see more options and experiment, "going way out and bringing something back." Using different media and different techniques in fine art was a creative resource for his design work. "It is," he said, "similar to cross-training in athletics, a kind of cross-visualization that builds creativity."

Mr. Kelley became interested in pastels about three years ago. After beginning in oils, he moved on to watercolors, pen and ink, collage, acrylics, and computer graphics. He has always been a drawer, he said, and that is why pastels appeal to him. He enjoys the softness of pastels and being able to move the pigments around with his thumbs.

He is currently focusing on landscapes like "Monks Pond 2" and "Windy Green Pond," moving away from "local" (realistic) colors, he said, and being more creative with his color choices.

He enjoys the response he gets from people who take pleasure in his paintings. "You realize," he said, that "artistic talent is a gift we are given to share." He is happy to share his unique artistic perspective, and looks forward to continued experimentation and development.

For information abour Mr. Kelley, send an email to dfkelley@pair.com. For information about the Maser Gallery, call 508-457-0800.
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