Sunday, April 29, 2018

An Abundant Life - Painting A Story

The first time I met Keith Kimmel (known as the art of kEith), I was at a studio event at the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation which is also known as ESKFF. It was the first time that I met Eileen Kaminsky, and when I told her that I wrote a blog that included posts about artists and designers, she took the time to introduce me to the artists who were there. The event was a celebration for the work of one of the artists who had been involved with the collaborative projects that Eileen coordinates with Gary Lichtenstein through her Foundation and Gary Lichtenstein Editions, and Eileen knew Keith through the work that he had done in a residency he had previously had with Gary. Keith invited me to an open studio event he was having in a few weeks, and as at the time I was arranging a time to meet with Jean-Antoine Norbert in his studio at Mana, I planned to meet both of them on the same day. When I arrived at Jean-Antoine's and told him I was planning to go to visit Keith in his open studio afterward, when we were finished talking Jean-Antoine walked me over to say hello because they were in the same area. It was a quiet night at Mana, not one of the larger open studio days, and so we had a chance to talk before more people arrived. I suggested to Keith that we meet again at another time for a blog post when he could tell me more of his story, and he looked at me with the very frank and honest look that is an integral part of him and said as he gestured to the paintings in the room, "This is the story." I am a story teller, and I love to tell stories and to listen to the stories of others, and so it took me a moment to fully take in that for Keith, the story was all around him, in his work, in his space and in his visionary art. Many times even the visual artists I write about have stories to tell and we can spend hours talking, but in the case of Keith Kimmel, though we did share some time together and talked about a good amount of different things, the story really is in his extraordinary work.

If I were to try to analyze what it is that makes his work so vital and unique, I might be able to come up with a story to tell, but as Keith said himself, the story is really in the work itself, and as with anything worth listening to, if we just look and listen to it, we can learn a great deal. I do know from our discussion that evening and at other times that he has written a novel and he is also a musician, and when I was following up with him about this piece he told me that he had written two novels. He also told me that he is no longer at Mana, and that he is in the process of creating a new space in another location. Though I am very happy for him that he is discovering a new space and place in his creative life, I also know that with this move if we had not met when when we did, we might not have met at all. In reading through his website, I found out that he had shown his work for a number of years in Fort Collins, Colorado, a very fun fact for me because I think Fort Collins is one of the best places in the world. I had visited many times with a friend, and it was only just as Keith began to show his work in coffee houses there that my own life changed and so our paths did not cross. But there is a perfect time and place for everything to happen, and somehow, for some perfect reason, our meeting was set to be at Mana, first in the ESKFF studio space and then a few weeks later in his own former studio space, a place where when I walked into it, I found myself in another world.

Keith Kimmel (known as the art of kEith)
In His Former Studio
At Mana Contemporary
888 Newark Street
Jersey City, New Jersey


Jannie Susan

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