kelly's recent watercolor work is all about the television sitcoms she grew up watching as a kid. if you are of a certain age [and i am], many of her depictions immediately cause a swell of nostalgia... afternoons, evenings, after school slots filled with plot lines, characters that became surrogate friends, or enemies, or objects of desire or admiration.
as anyone who has used watercolor knows. it's a fickle medium. capable of producing effects like no other, but with a HIGH potential mess up threshold. in fact when talking to kelly she mentioned that sometimes she needs 5 hours straight to complete a work [or at least get it to a place where she can leave it], because anything less will generate a failure.
kelly always divulges that she uses a light box to paint on top of screen/image stills from the shows. i find this part of her process intriguing. it allows her to be very free with the medium, and as "accurate" as she chooses. it solves logistical problems - no pencil to erase, no struggling with proportions. i'm always amazed at how she is able to both create a likeness an distort it.
part of what haunts me about her work is that it hovers in this space of almost realism. just as the characters and plot lines of the shows hover in my memory. the materiality and the fact that she removes the characters from any background forces me into an even more sentimental space.
i love, too, that kelly often chooses scenes or characters that speak to personal issues that are meaningful to her and thus meaningful to an audience - feminism, family love/dynamics, loneliness, social constraints, motherhood all come to mind. the fact that some of these shows can be both so behind and so ahead of their times is an interesting socio political point to contemplate.
for this exhibition kelly chose to hang her palette pieces. these are created simultaneously to the figurative work, and clearly evoke and contain the same colorways at the "final" pieces. abstract in nature they often record her attempts to get a color "just right", or a practice run of generating a pool of paint to operate "just so". since i'm a closet wanna be abstract expressionist, they appeal to that sensibility in spades.
she remarks that she loves the freedom and immediacy in them. i concur. they are beautiful as color stories. they are so much freer and open than the figurative work. when they hang side by side a completely other narrative develops. the figurative work can not be made with out them, yet they can clearly exist separately. i'm intrigued by this notion of "pre-work", not the "real" work becoming a thing in and of itself. i also love how they inform one another.
isn't the light and the brick wall in in•ter•face so lovely???
i was so excited to see the hanging system that was developed for these. they are mounted on foam core and "floating" on the wall. this creates the idea of a frame without having to place the work behind a frame. of course watercolors are more fugitive and fragile than other mediums and these would need to be framed for long term viewing - but i was so happy to be able to see the work up close. to sense the tactility of the paper; to view up close the means by which water alters the density and path of the pigment.
in a new twist kelly actually put some of her palette markings ON this good times piece. this was definitely one of my favorites in the show. first because of the scale. watercolors taken out of their plein air, tight, small tradition always make me giddy. the way kelly rendered the clothing in this one makes my heart swoon. [that plaid ! OMG. i actually saw other versions of this piece in her studio and every time i had the deepest desire to steal it.]. the tenderness in this scene is also just so genuine. there is nothing sticky sweet or over the top about it. and the addition of the abstract marks - the joining of two practices that had to this point mostly been kept separate is very exciting. she mentioned that it was partially an aesthetic choice - the piece just needed more... but i also think it's a development that could serve her well in her next body of work.
sadly last weekend was your last chance to see the show, so i can't encourage you to go get some artisnal donuts or ice cream in the temescal alley an check it out. but you can for sure look at kelly's website. or if you are headed to the sunset you can support irving street projects [yes ! where i completed the keepsake project] and go to an amazing event - kelly's studio is also there.