10 SEPTEMBER - 18 OCTOBER 1998
From September 10 through October 18, 1998, New York-based painter Stephen Keene will make, display, and sell thousands of paintings in the Rice Gallery. Visitors to Stephen Keene's Fresh Art Daily will find the gallery full of brightly colored paintings, near-constant art-making, and a populist spirit. A Yale-trained artist, Keene asserts that “painting should be a part of people’s lives and not separate from the world like a precious object.” The public is invited to visit Keene as he paints/performs every Tuesday through Sunday during regular gallery hours. Paintings will be sold on Sundays for $1 to $15 (limit two per person).
“Stephen’s work makes art accessible to everyone,” said Kimberly Davenport, Director. “It’s fun and engaging but also raises important questions about the roles of art and artists in today’s fast-paced consumer society.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
As a college disc jockey, Keene would randomly select albums by the cover artwork or the band’s name, foretelling the similar whimsical sprit and interest in chance that infuses the way he works today. Keene cites a range of other influences including the avant-garde musician John Cage, conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, action painter Jackson Pollock, folk artist the Rev. Howard Finster, and the lavish interiors of the Doge’s Palace in Venice.
Keene used to spend weeks laboring on paintings, but by 1990 he had developed his current assembly-line, performance-based style. Keene lines up 30 to 40 plywood boards at a time on easel. He chooses an image from magazines, art reproductions and other sources, and then duplicates it across all of the canvases until he has created nearly identical scenes. To each work, Keene adds a phrase, a line randomly selected from such sources as Bartlett’s book of quotations, songs or poems. He then sells the paintings for nominal prices at bars, rock shows, his own garage sales, and the occasional art gallery. Keene compares his paintings to souvenirs, trading cards, or music CDs: “It’s art, it’s cheap, and it changes your life, but the object has no status.” To date he has sold more than 18,000 paintings, most to individuals who have made a Keene painting (or perhaps even 20 Keene paintings) the first in their art collection.
Keene has created album and video set art for various alternative rock groups including Pavement, Apples in Stereo, Molly’s Folly and The Silver Jews. His work has been shown at the Goldie Paley Gallery at the Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, 1997; Threadwaxing Space, New York, 1993-95, and Kunstraum Wien, Austria, 1995. Stephen Keene was born in Washington, D.C. in 1957. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University.