Richard Keely and Anna O’Cain: Recent Works.

Exhibition dates: November 19, 2018 through February 14, 2019

Artists’ Reception and Gallery Talk:

Tuesday, November 27
1:30-2:30

Free and open to the public
Gallery hours: M/W 11-4pm, T/TH 12-4pm and by appointment


Artists Biographies

Richard Keely is an artist and educator from Southern California. Originally trained as a painter Richard’s work during the last twenty years has turned towards sculpture, photography and installation. He is often concerned with transforming ordinary objects into visually dense wall pieces that have the potential to evoke an array of experiential possibilities. Richard and his wife Anna O’Cain often collaborate on sculptural installation work.

Anna O’Cain is a studio art instructor in drawing, design and sculpture. She works with hybrid media, experimental processes, and installation. Performance actions taken from daily life, i.e. mending clothes, making pies, sewing felt covers for books in a library, and cataloging stories are elements in her installations work. Found objects used in her work often provide historical sources from which to begin the art making process. Sound, interactivity and electronic technologies are combined with more traditional media in her work. Questions about learning, memory and record keeping (how we know, how we learn, what we remember, and what we forget) are at the center of her research and practice. With one foot in both physical and virtual worlds she is still amazed and excited about the hybridization of traditional and electronic media.

 

Artists Statement

For me the most interesting objects won’t hold still, they flicker, refusing to be pinned down to any kind of specifics. This flicker is what makes me want to experience them again and again.

For the past several years I have been making sculptures that are inspired by and made from inexpensive, ordinary objects from daily life; drinking cups, food storage containers, waist bins etc. My interest in these objects is that they come from a history of collective refinement and are often beautiful near perfect things. But they are also things that are typically ignored, treated as commonplace; not interesting from an aesthetic or cultural perspective. When making the work I sometime use the objects outright but most often I use them as molds to fill with other common materials such as concrete, charcoal, wood glue or dirt. The works are process based and when successful resonate with a familiarity yet cannot be pinned down to specifics; creating a tension between their latent function and their current state.

Richard Keely is an artist and educator from Southern California. Originally trained as a painter Richard’s work during the last twenty years has turned towards sculpture, photography and installation. He is often concerned with transforming ordinary objects into visually dense wall pieces that have the potential to evoke an array of experiential possibilities. Richard and his wife Anna O’Cain often collaborate on sculptural installation work.

Anna O’Cain

I remember reading books under the covers with a flashlight when I was in the third grade, however I don't remember why an eight year old didn't have enough time in the day to read. Stillness and quiet is what I find in late night and early morning hours; this has always been the best time for me to experiment with ideas, read and make things. Sometimes I hear a train whistle while I'm up late, but there isn't a train near Lemon Grove, only the trolley. The whistle is a bit distant; the trolley is close and not running at two or three in the morning. Through simple research I discover there are passenger rail cars in the desert east and north of here, but no whistle can come from these abandoned train sites. My dog thinks I'm crazy and my husband is very patient, but sometimes worried about my nighttime schedule of creative work. Sleep is hard for me.

Simple events, everyday materials and vernacular speech are potent sources from which I make art. How we learn, what we remember, what we forget and how we reconfigure our stories interest me. I collect images, fragments of conversations, children's science books, objects, and stories of daily life to study for my work.

More than likely there is an underlying story connected to growing up in Mississippi in the work that I make. It's not spelled out, nor is it always important to the final shape of the work, but it figures into just about everything. I left the south the year I turned twenty to attend college at Oklahoma University. It was during this time, the early seventies, that my mother

Katherine Hunt began writing ten to twenty-page, double-sided letters to me. With a decisive slant she wrote primarily on both sides of yellow legal pads detailing daily life, personal feelings, family events, as well as her political assessments from Watergate to Iran-Contra. And in every letter she slipped two to five dollars. Years later I re-discovered these letters bound together in a few shoeboxes. An installation titled "Just A Sliver" was developed from these letters. Through her descriptions, opinions and stories I was forever linked to Mississippi.

In 2009 my sister divided up the family photographs, important and not so important papers, letters, journals, and other miscellaneous records between the O'Cain children. Mom was downsizing. Three large boxes arrived in Lemon Grove, but because I felt I knew what was in them I barely cracked one open. The packages were heavy and crammed full so I decided to wait. Four years later I opened the boxes. As I sifted through photographs, read the articles, letters, journals, and telegrams I considered making a rather straightforward photographic portrait of her.

I moved everything into my studio and pretended to be a biographer, but the excitement of this role dissipated while reading her 1966 journal. I found clinical phrasing and objective records of missed phone calls and postponed arrivals as evidence of my absent father and lack of regular financial support. Along side the brief notations and lists indicating the dissolution of my parents' marriage were long descriptive entries about mom's graduate work in speech pathology that year. This was astounding to me. She wrote fervently about her classes, professors, exams and research, and the students with whom she studied at the University of Southern Mississippi. Other documents (letters and telegrams) from dad, both grandfathers, lawyers, businessmen, bankers and one private investigator revealed scenarios attempting to figure out what was up with my father. I took breaks (night and day) quietly walking around in the backyard here in Lemon Grove thinking about her, imagining my father at that time, and speculating on what actually happened.

There on the table were photographs of my family in the fifties and sixties as well as written records of this difficult period. In the mix were photos and articles about her earlier life as a beauty queen from Pascagoula, Mississippi. The idea of usurping the confusion, sadness, and fear spelled out in these documents was not acceptable to me; instead I zoomed in to the piles of things and edges of papers and moved the camera around making blurry abstractions of texts and images. I began to paint numbers on objects in my studio and devised a simple system for photographing a fig tree in order to record its growth. I experienced clumsy drifts backward into places of memory; then set up experiments with which I could make records or label objects with consecutive numbers as a way to taking breaks away from the materials before me in the studio. The initial idea and intrigue evolved as I photographed and explored this wacky mix of documents. In the process of making nighttime I slipped into complex ruminations about my personal history, but also developed process-oriented strategies to disrupt the ruminations, and also create a tribute to my mother, Katherine Wright O'Cain Hunt.