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An art-filled life


Gerard J. Kelly never dreamt where art would take him as he wandered the halls at Marystown Central High School in the late 1970s. Mr. Kelly, a native of Mooring Cove, has a lot on his plate these days.

BY PAUL HERRIDGE

The Southern Gazette

The sculpture technician in the Division of Fine Arts at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, he left last week for a seven-week visit to Peru.

It’s a trip that is both family related – Mr. Kelly married his Peruvian fiancée in March – but also offers a chance to make artistic connections. He has an eye towards hosting an exhibit of his work there in the next year or two.

Mr. Kelly has held exhibits as far away as Istanbul, Turkey, and his artwork is on display in collections around the world, including that of Sydney Unobskey, a member of the Board of Director’s for San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.

“It’s pretty awesome. It’s what you go for. It’s a goal that you have all your life so the more of that kind of stuff that you can get to happen the better.”

Mr. Kelly studied art with Teacher Ron Fredette at Marystown Central High and was encouraged by him to get into the field. Through the school, it was arranged for him to participate in some workshops at St. Michael’s Printshop with Dan Wright in 1979.

Mr. Wright thought Mr. Kelly should enroll in the Visual Arts Program that had just been started at the then Bay St. George Community College, now a campus of College of the North Atlantic.

He did in 1980 and hasn’t looked back.

After finishing his diploma, Mr. Kelly went on to complete a bachelor of fine arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and just recently received his masters from the University of Alberta. He also has a diploma in woodworking technology from College of the North Atlantic.

A son of John and Helen Kelly, he also has two sisters.

He acknowledged his love for art goes back almost as far as he can remember. As with many aspiring artists Mr. Kelly said his father, who passed away in 2000, was not initially thrilled with his career choice but became a big supporter later in life.

“I’ve always been drawing since I was a little kid. I can remember as far back as being just a small guy, five or six years old, Dad doing drawings of schooners and boats, and stuff like that, and I’d take his little drawings and go off in a corner somewhere and be quiet for a few hours.”

At NSCAD, Mr. Kelly majored in sculpture, and while he still draws and paints from time to time, it’s the main focus for much of his work these days.

His technical background in the branch is broad and varies from bronze casting to stone carving, metal work, shell work and woodwork.

“I’m influenced by a lot of things. My inspiration comes from mythology, anthropology, archeology and my own personal experiences in life and culture.”

A couple of years ago, he toured an exhibit at Arts and Culture Centres across Newfoundland and Labrador entitled ‘Self-Realized’.

Mr. Kelly explained, in sculptural terms, to realize something means to bring it from concept to reality.

“I made different objects that were representative of different aspects of my life, such as a large smoking pipe that I carved from Italian marble six-feet long.

“It was a replica of a smoking pipe that Jim Kelly, who used to cut our hair when we were children, used to smoke all the time. He gave it to me when I visited him one Christmas when I was home, as a keepsake.”

He also carved a shoe last that his grandfather had owned for the exhibit.

Recently, Mr. Kelly was once again a finalist in the 2013 Canadian Kingsbrae Garden National Sculpture Competition.

The last time he was a finalist, Mr. Unobskey was in attendance and purchased his work for his garden in San Francisco. Mr. Unobsky has expressed interest in commissioning him to create a piece for his collection and the duo have made plans to meet in Maine in August.

In September, Mr. Kelly will present a video piece – another area he works in – at Lumiere Cape Breton, an annual ‘art-at-night’ festival in downtown Sydney.

During the month, he will also give an artist talk at his Bay St. George alma mater, the final year for the visual arts program at the campus due to the recent government cuts.

He also has a solo exhibit lined up at the Arts and Culture Centre in Corner Brook for November, entitled ‘Ebb and Flow’, which will feature stone carvings, painting, photography and drawings.

Mr. Kelly fittingly uses a lyric to describe the fulfillment a life creating art has given him.

“I enjoy my work. It’s like that old song, ‘Live the life you love and love the life you live’. I get to do that.”

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

BY PAUL HERRIDGE

The Southern Gazette

The sculpture technician in the Division of Fine Arts at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, he left last week for a seven-week visit to Peru.

It’s a trip that is both family related – Mr. Kelly married his Peruvian fiancée in March – but also offers a chance to make artistic connections. He has an eye towards hosting an exhibit of his work there in the next year or two.

Mr. Kelly has held exhibits as far away as Istanbul, Turkey, and his artwork is on display in collections around the world, including that of Sydney Unobskey, a member of the Board of Director’s for San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.

“It’s pretty awesome. It’s what you go for. It’s a goal that you have all your life so the more of that kind of stuff that you can get to happen the better.”

Mr. Kelly studied art with Teacher Ron Fredette at Marystown Central High and was encouraged by him to get into the field. Through the school, it was arranged for him to participate in some workshops at St. Michael’s Printshop with Dan Wright in 1979.

Mr. Wright thought Mr. Kelly should enroll in the Visual Arts Program that had just been started at the then Bay St. George Community College, now a campus of College of the North Atlantic.

He did in 1980 and hasn’t looked back.

After finishing his diploma, Mr. Kelly went on to complete a bachelor of fine arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and just recently received his masters from the University of Alberta. He also has a diploma in woodworking technology from College of the North Atlantic.

A son of John and Helen Kelly, he also has two sisters.

He acknowledged his love for art goes back almost as far as he can remember. As with many aspiring artists Mr. Kelly said his father, who passed away in 2000, was not initially thrilled with his career choice but became a big supporter later in life.

“I’ve always been drawing since I was a little kid. I can remember as far back as being just a small guy, five or six years old, Dad doing drawings of schooners and boats, and stuff like that, and I’d take his little drawings and go off in a corner somewhere and be quiet for a few hours.”

At NSCAD, Mr. Kelly majored in sculpture, and while he still draws and paints from time to time, it’s the main focus for much of his work these days.

His technical background in the branch is broad and varies from bronze casting to stone carving, metal work, shell work and woodwork.

“I’m influenced by a lot of things. My inspiration comes from mythology, anthropology, archeology and my own personal experiences in life and culture.”

A couple of years ago, he toured an exhibit at Arts and Culture Centres across Newfoundland and Labrador entitled ‘Self-Realized’.

Mr. Kelly explained, in sculptural terms, to realize something means to bring it from concept to reality.

“I made different objects that were representative of different aspects of my life, such as a large smoking pipe that I carved from Italian marble six-feet long.

“It was a replica of a smoking pipe that Jim Kelly, who used to cut our hair when we were children, used to smoke all the time. He gave it to me when I visited him one Christmas when I was home, as a keepsake.”

He also carved a shoe last that his grandfather had owned for the exhibit.

Recently, Mr. Kelly was once again a finalist in the 2013 Canadian Kingsbrae Garden National Sculpture Competition.

The last time he was a finalist, Mr. Unobskey was in attendance and purchased his work for his garden in San Francisco. Mr. Unobsky has expressed interest in commissioning him to create a piece for his collection and the duo have made plans to meet in Maine in August.

In September, Mr. Kelly will present a video piece – another area he works in – at Lumiere Cape Breton, an annual ‘art-at-night’ festival in downtown Sydney.

During the month, he will also give an artist talk at his Bay St. George alma mater, the final year for the visual arts program at the campus due to the recent government cuts.

He also has a solo exhibit lined up at the Arts and Culture Centre in Corner Brook for November, entitled ‘Ebb and Flow’, which will feature stone carvings, painting, photography and drawings.

Mr. Kelly fittingly uses a lyric to describe the fulfillment a life creating art has given him.

“I enjoy my work. It’s like that old song, ‘Live the life you love and love the life you live’. I get to do that.”

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

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