We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Kelton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’m not actually sure I had that much of a choice… ;} My mother’s a painter, sculptor and photographer; her aunt a world renowned photographer; her father a painter; my father was a painter, architect and photographer; his father was an engineer and photographer; HIS father was an architect, sculptor, painter and engineer! So it’s a little embarrassing, this wealth and breadth of unending artistic lineage. Busts of my great-grandfather on hotels in Prague, pictures of the central train station he designed on every manhole cover… I did get admitted into the University of Toronto’s acclaimed Architecture program like my father before me, but there was a recession in the 90’s and the going joke was, “What does an architect say to their client?” “Would you like fries with that?” Since nothing was being built, I decided on Film School instead seeing as during the Great Depression people still needed to believe in some kind of escape and films seemed to do pretty well. When I went to my high school, Etobicoke School of the Arts, (one vaguely modeled after the tv show FAME,) they taught us that there WERE artists making a living at what they were doing… so why not us? But ever since I came to north America I think I had an innate problem with the prevalent concept of the ‘starving artist,’ only because, originating in Prague, I’d been taught Czechs practically elevated their artists to the levels of aristocracy – a playwright even became their first president after the revolution! So nature or nurture, coming from a long line of artists and being raised by them, it was probably just plain old destiny.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Headdresses and crowns deify my subjects. I try to uplift the unsung sheroes & heroes, patriarchy smashers, warrior survivors, silence breakers, philosophers, truth-tellers, whistle blowers and thought giants I come across in my journeys. I paint portraits cloaked in the garb of statues Ladislav Šaloun sculpted onto the train station that my great-grandfather, Josef Fanta, designed for Prague in 1901 – 1909. Apotheosis through a reclaimed, reapplied Art Nouveau. The work presents a tactility against the digitized space. Here, the mantle of the artist is above brand influencer, above internet commentator, above mere marketability. In their gaze is a warning, “Art is immortal. Come for me, why don’t you?” Sampling my own lineage, I attempt to transform a historical body of work, itself a thing of lasting beauty; exchanging granite for graphite, plaster for paint. In Photoshop, I first combine the desaturated faces I’ve found, sourced or shot of my chosen subjects, with the black and white photos from my family and friends, of the statues in situ. Then I use graphite, inks and acrylic paints and glazes to create the works on panel or canvas, thereby hopefully uplifting and elevating my battle-weary subjects to the highest reach of architectural strata. But it’s never easy. Nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. Overcoming challenges is just about enjoying the path apparently, and patience has never been my virtue. Maybe one day. I’ll let you know. ;}
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, in the “before times” there were so many options and galleries but there are a few I’ll mention now, because they continue to innovate by moving online to foster inclusion for all. https://shoeboxprojects.com/ Shoebox Projects is a non-profit curatorial community working to support underrepresented artists. Powered by the Shoebox Pr, (a visual artist management, coaching, support and PR company striving to fulfill their mission to cultivate community and empower artists to build a sustainable art practice,) and Art and Cake LA, (an online art magazine with a focus on contemporary art in Los Angeles,) it’s an experimental art space at the Brewery Artist Complex in DTLA. http://www.durdenandray.com/ Durden & Ray is an artist/curator collective creating exhibition opportunities at their downtown Los Angeles gallery and in concert with galleries across the globe. https://cactusgalleryla.com/ Cactus Gallery is a vibrant Latina owned and operated gallery. Since March 2005, their space has been an eclectic mix of contemporary art and folk art. Since March 1, 2019, Cactus Gallery began hosting its wonderful exhibits online and in their private space just in time to push through this non-stop insanity that has barraged us ever since. For now though, let’s also just drive out of the city to Lake Perris (https://www.parks.ca.gov/?
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Two remarkable forces of nature have kept me afloat during this unprecedented age we are currently living through, and their faith in me will resonate forever. The women who put together “2020: Our Vision, Our Voices” are both extraordinary, undeniable talents in the creative world: Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman and Alix Sloan, co-curators of this incredible group show featuring works from me, Deirdre and seven other female artists from a variety of backgrounds and at different stages of their lives, exploring issues of marginalization from our unique perspectives. Deirdre is a magnificent surrealist painter who uses an unparalleled modified oil and egg tempera Old Masters technique to devise works of magical, feminist realism that palpably, inexplicably glow from within. Her brilliant work can be found at www.sullivanbeeman.com Author, gallerist and consultant Alix Sloan, of https://sloanfineart.com, runs not only the gallery but a full-service arts consulting agency, planning and executing arts-related events, collaborating on offsite exhibitions and curatorial projects, consulting for artists, collectors and businesses. Her book, “Launching Your Art Career: A Practical Guide for Artists,” is an invaluable resource that reflects her twenty plus years of experience in the arts as a curator, consultant, private dealer and gallerist. “2020: Our Vision. Our Voices.” was chosen from hundreds of proposals for exhibition at the acclaimed Annenberg Community Beach House, a non-profit, city-run, organization in Santa Monica, California. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, their Photo Annex facility has been permanently closed. Sloan and Sullivan-Beeman decided the show must go on virtually however and built this: https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.
“Your Rescue Squad” 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ Acrylics, Inks, Graphite on Wood. Prices available upon request. Contact email@example.com for more information. “Her Sanity Is Insanity” 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ Acrylics, Inks, Graphite on Wood. Prices available upon request. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. “Army Of Me” 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ Acrylics, Inks, Graphite on Wood. Prices available upon request. Contact email@example.com for more information. “That Just Made The Bullies Worse” 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ Acrylics, Inks, Graphite on Wood. Prices available upon request. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. “Exhausted” 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ Acrylics, Inks, Graphite on Wood. Prices available upon request. Contact email@example.com for more information. “Self-Sufficience Please” 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ Acrylics, Inks, Graphite on Wood. Prices available upon request. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Both selfies, photo credit: Kate Kelton