Featured Artists for Sunday, February 26:
Richard Keen and Buzz Masters
Richard Keen was born in 1971 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He spent his formative years in the Midwest and now lives in Topsham, Maine. Keen has taught and worked in the visual arts for ten years while actively exhibiting in commercial, nonprofit and university galleries throughout New England and the Midwest. Keen holds a Masters of Arts Degree from the University of New York at Albany and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. His approach to art is one of proliferation and continual experimentation. The scale of his paintings range from 5 inches square to 4 feet square and are executed in oils, acrylics, and encaustic on paper, canvas and panel. Keen also invests time in drawing and printmaking. His 3-D work utilizes nontraditional materials and marine equipment and have been exhibited in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Throughout his career his work has been accepted in numerous regional,national and international juried exhibitions and has been reviewed in local and regional papers including “Art New England”. Tracey Bashkoff, Associate Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, selected his work for the Biennial “Encaustic Works 2003” at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Richard’s work was also chosen by Lisa Dennison, Director and Chief Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, to be included in the 2002 National Cambridge Art Association’s “National Prize Show” in Cambridge, MA. Other prominent jurors who have selected his artwork for exhibitions include: Phyllis Braff, Art Critic for the New York Times, Anne Rocheleau, Director of the Rhode Island Foundation Gallery, Moira Kelly,Prior Director of the Air Gallery in London, and Bruce Brown, Curator at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.
Statement on Painting
My abstracted seascapes explore the subtle edges and relationships between abstraction and reality. This series of paintings began as a result of my research related to fishing weirs, which were once a fixture along the coast of Maine and had their origins with the Micmac and Passamaquoddy tribes. Today, very few are used and can only be seen Downeast around the Eastport area or around Grand Manan and Deer Island, Canada. Weirs are comprised of a series of wooden stakes driven into the bottom of the ocean, tied together and sheathed with fishing nets. They are generally configured in circular patterns with a gate-like opening facing shore. This design traps herring at high tide as they move along the coastline. At low tide fishermen would enter the weir and seine the herring out.
At times my weir paintings include superimposed elements of the Maine coastal environment such as horizon lines, marine equipment and drawings of boat hulls, all very powerful symbols of the coastal Maine, which speak to its tradition and heritage. Living in Maine and working on the ocean has stimulated a natural synthesis between my artwork and the environment, which is expressed through a deep attachment to a sense of place. I work with many different media including encaustic, acrylic, and oil to capture the sense of energy I find out where water meets sky.
“Area Below Water Series”
My ongoing series of paintings and digital work that began as a result of my experiences as a mooring diver off the coast of Maine, in Casco Bay. Throughout maritime history, ships have been moored using granite blocks, chains, ropes and anchors. On a regular basis I leave the safety of a boat to go beneath the sea to inspect and repair mooring systems.
I am interested in investigating the variations in color while being surrounded by and submerged in the ocean, sometimes at depths of up to 60 feet. The energy of water and how it impacts the mooring chains that I inspect and work on, fuels my imagination and saturates my artwork. My paintings in this series range between 5 and 24 inches square, with several 48” square paintings in progress. My videos and digital images are projected on a much larger scale directly onto walls, floors and ceilings. On a small scale they offer intimate meditations and on a larger scale they provide viewers with the sense of energy I find when I am under water. Through these variations in scale I want to convey what I believe many people both fear and dream of when they think of the ocean… the deep and mysterious power of the sea.
For more information visit www.richardkeenstudio.com
ARTIST BIO 2011
During one winter, while sorting through and cleaning out piles of papers in my studio, I came across an old sketchbook. At the age of nine, I had taken a painting class taught by a friend of my parents and this was the documentation of that time. Looking through the pages I could clearly remember the joy of those classes and my first experience drawing from the live model. To ease any of my embarrassment the teacher had had the models wear bathing suits hence, all of the drawings look like beach scenes.
In finding these few, unskilled drawings of seated and standing figures my interest in representing the shared human experience reawakened. This, and my love of Italian 14th century painting, has challenged me to merge both influences in new imagery. In life, what connects us is always more interesting than what separates us. In art, you can take your unique vision and find the common language. The moments of sitting on the beach can represent the stretching out of time. Watching our children grow up is the common thread to our own aging. The simple New England architecture becomes a metaphor of the changing undercurrent of relationships.
The recycling of our old ideas, pertaining to creating work, is always an exciting experience. In re-doing a youthful image with an older eye, paths taken and choices made can become more clearly defined. As a result of finding that old sketchbook, the past resurfaced becoming the present and new paintings were born.
Buzz Masters is a painter living and working in Deer Isle, Maine. Her focus of community, and how we create it, has led her to help coaching her daughter’s cross country team, taking groups of teenagers to Europe, sitting on the board of Windward Passage sailing program, and serving her island as an EMT-IA. She helped initiate and has remained a member of The Women's Grand Adventure Group since 1979 and recently helped establish Bad Mommies.