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The Falmouth Enterprise, December, 2006

Artist of the Month
By Ellen M. Lennon

Where do I begin? I asked myself this question after I interviewed David Kelley, the Falmouth Artists Guild's artist of the month for September. Here is a man with so many titles, art media, and levels of work experiences in both the left and right brain that it is hard to choose a beginning statement. After reviewing his extensive, updated biography and his portfolio of diversified artworks, I decided to begin with his early years. As a child growing up in New Haven, Connecticut, Mr. Kelley loved drawing and remembers his teachers and friends from grade school commenting on his work.

Aside from art, his other love in high school and at Providence College, from which he graduated, was baseball; he played all four years at each school. While still in high school, at the age of 17, he was offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals to play in the minor leagues, but felt it was a longshot and opted to stay in school and go on to college instead. Providence College was a small Catholic men's college at the time and has subsequently become a major player in sports and education for both men and women. It was a pleasant, yet very important experience, but not always easy mastering the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas!

Except for late spring snowstorms, playing college baseball in New England was fun-- visiting colleges from Bates in Maine to Yale in New Haven, with the University of Connecticut, Boston University, and Harvard in between. His last at-bat in his final game concluded with a base hit against Boston College. From then on, his total concentration was on becoming an artist.

Two weeks after graduating from Providence College, he entered the Rhode Island School of Design to finally begin his formal art studies in graphic design and painting. After 16 years of parochial education in Catholic schools, he found this to be a totally different and very creative experience to which he easily adapted. He absorbed everything he could, worked hard at discovering his abilities and skills, but his opportunity was unfortunately cut short after two years by a draft notice to begin his military service.

The US Army took advantage of his art training by assigning him as an illustrator in the Quartermaster Training Command at Fort Lee, Virginia. This allowed him to continue his art studies, develop his skills, gain experience, and to work with several artists who became top professionals in their fields. Following two years of military service he moved to Hartford for four years with his wife and children to begin his career with several entry jobs and finally his first job as a designer. He also occasionally served as a substitute teacher in the Hartford school system.

For the next decade Mr. Kelley worked in educational publishing in Boston for Houghton Mifflin Company as a book designer and assistant art director where he designed dozens of college level textbooks before venturing into the lower levels. One of these was the design of a pilot science program for imaginative teaching of science in schools, grades K-12, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Following this came an exciting, creative job with Ginn and Company as a project leader/head designer developing and implementing the design of a new reading program called Reading 360. This series influenced the style of kindergarten through grade 12 reading programs in the industry and won major awards from the Society of Illustrators in New York and the American Institute Graphic Arts. During that period he served as chairman of the New England Book Show for two years and president of the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset for three years.

This was a very creative period for him as it was a most revolutionary time, considering the civil rights and women's movements, the Ecumenical Council in Rome, Viet Nam, Beatles music, and the new excitement in art following years of abstract expressionism. The dynamics were in the air and it influenced his art as his work found its way into exhibitions and galleries in and around Boston. At about this time he entered the Massachusetts Council for the Arts' "Young Talent Show" juried competition of over 2,000 entries and was one of the 125 selected to exhibit at Boston's JFK Museum and at several other museums around the state. Creating and experimenting at home at night with various media became the basis for his successful design work in publishing during the day. He continued this approach throughout his design career. This method helps develop the thinking behind solutions to real problems at a later date.

For the next 16 years he established a consulting business specializing in book design, illustration, sports photography, graphics, and project management for various clients in publishing, sports fitness clubs, and high-tech firms around Boston and elsewhere. This period marked his design return to the sports world. Open tennis was beginning and the Women's Tennis Association was recently created by Billie Jean King.

One of his first clients was the new Boston Harbor Tennis Club, which evolved into many levels of creative work from murals and brochures to event photography. One very interesting assignment was to to photograph all the major league and world-class sports in the Boston area to decorate the recently remodeled Boston Athletic Club. It also got him playing lots of tennis, which he still does today. This tennis association led to other creative work for the Women's Tennis Association and the New England Tennis Association, along with other sports like skiing and yacht racing.

For several years, he worked with Carol Newsom, a tour photographer for the Women's Tennis Association, on a great number of projects for players, the WTA, the New England Tennis Association and in producing a mixed-media slide show on "Life on the Women's Professional Tennis Tour." This project was presented at a dinner party in Studio 54 in New York as part of the annual Women's Tennis Association "Tour Championships" held in Madison Square Garden. This slide show was created for the International Management Group of Cleveland, who are agents for many of the top professionals in all sports.

When the Macintosh computer came along, it totally changed the world of graphic design, illustration, and publishing. It provided new opportunities for those who embraced it and doom for those who did not. It is the perfect tool for designing and developing brochures, software manuals, ads, newsletters, books and covers, and the scientific and medical illustration that Mr. Kelley continues to do. He also assisted Brown University scientists and educators in developing a multi-media proposal for the purpose of creating a total reference tool for teaching all aspects of the human body, from surface to sub-atomic levels.

From 1996 through 2000, he served on the board of the Falmouth Artists Guild and as its president for two years. Since then he began edging his way back into the fine arts. He took an eight-week landscape seminar at the Cataumet Arts Center given by Andrea York, Hillary Osborn, and Doug Rugh. Last year he began attending the informal Friday figure-drawing group at the Falmouth Artists Guild organized by Marguerite Miller, and more recently added the Wednesday portrait class presented by Dan Hanagan. "Both classes are great learning experiences with people at all levels of development being supportive and inspirational," Mr. Kelley said. He highly recommends these classes to those working their way back to art.

A few months ago Mr. Kelley decided to try pastels and almost immediately realized that they are the medium for him. He has since completed several landscapes and portraits and has seen his work rise to a new level, as a couple of recent awards in Duxbury and the Cape Cod Art Association will attest.

During all of this conversation in his interview, I asked how he was able to switch from left and right brain activities in between positions for different firms. Soft-spoken Mr. Kelley replied, "You just do it! When you are under the gun with a deadline to get work completed, you don't have the luxury of wasting time on the 'what ifs,' you just get the job done."

Mr. Kelley is an active member of the South Shore Art Center, Cape Cod Art Association, Falmouth Artists Guild, and the Falmouth Cultural Council. He is a former member of the Copley Society of Boston and the National Drawing Association. Mr. Kelley has exhibited his paintings and won awards at juried national shows across the US. Adding to this never-ending list of activities, he also sells real estate with Real Estate Associates in Falmouth. He can be contacted at dfkelley@pair.com.

Mr. Kelley's words of wisdom for those just picking up a brush are "Keep creating!" He explained that each person needs to progress by himself. "If you are a performer, you use the stage; if you are an artist, you use the canvas. You must use the gifts given to you by the Maker. Just do it!"

For more information and to see David Kelley's work, please visit www.davidkelleydesign.com. for his design website and www.davidkelleyoriginals.com for his fine arts work.

To contact. send an email to: dfkelley@pair.com
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