March First Friday
Rodger LaPelle Galleries
by Mary Anna Rodabaugh
Paintings are usually classified by the artist’s style. The human mind strives for order by placing visual elements into a certain categorical box; labeling the object at hand. The end result is a painting or work of art that can be put into a Surrealism box, a Realism box, an Impressionism box, a Photorealism box, or an Abstract box, just to name a few.
Yet some artists, like Brian Keeler, do not fit into one particular box. Instead, these artists adopt features from a variety of styles, thus creating hybrid-styled works of art. Featured at the Rodger LaPelle Galleries at 122 North 3rd Street, Keeler displays a wide range of subjects and styles, in his 64-piece exhibit entitled, Luminous Nature.
United by the common theme of light, Keeler’s paintings include landscapes, allegory, portraits, cityscapes and figurative works. Several of his landscapes were inspired by the idyllic mountainous areas in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“The subject matter in this show is obviously important to me, as I paint the land that I know intimately and connect with in a meaningful way,” Keeler wrote in his artist statement.
Several of his works, such as Nudes in Autumn, tastefully place one or more nude subjects in the middle of a captivating landscape. This type of composition collectively illuminates the natural beauty of both the human body and the earth.
Natural elements such as meadows, bodies of water, mountains and clouds, appear to have hints of a soft Impressionistic brush style. Structural elements such as houses, fences, roads and street signs have a sharp and more realistic brush style.
Like French painter, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Keeler prefers to paint his landscapes “en plein aire,” which is French for “in open air.”
“When I am about to paint, I look at the light quality first. I tend to paint early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll paint outside at sunset and watch the transition into evening,” Keeler said.
The results are magnificent.
Keeler is a master at portraying light, shadow, and reflection. In, Keuka Lake, a swirl of nighttime Cirrus clouds wisp above the dark New York finger lake, as the twinkling town lights of Hammondsport are reflected off of the water.
In Luminous Nocturne, a small group of people are gathered around a large illuminated paper lantern. Eight additional lanterns float in the sky. Keeler creates a gradual fade from dark to dusk in the background.
“These subjects suggest a salubrious event where light is being released into the darkness by a group of revelers. The settings were altered to come up with a theatrical-like setting to suggest a summer evening soiree with a pleasant, if not spiritual, overtone,” Keeler wrote in his artist statement.
For those craving a taste of Philadelphian beauty, Keeler has several works dedicated to that too. One such work, Corner Light with Elvis, depicts the corner of 2nd and Race Streets. In this painting, the famous Mr. Bar Stool furniture store stands in the foreground as the iconic Ben Franklin Bridge can be seen in the background. From the green traffic light to the neighboring building’s shadow cascading down the storefront, Keeler’s attention to detail is impeccable.
Keeler’s sense of individuality is prevalent throughout all of his works. Luminous Nature simply does not need to be categorized, labeled or put into a style box. That is the beauty of this radiant exhibit.
Photography courtesy of Brian Keeler