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Shelby Keefe: Through the Seasons
September 11 –  November 17, 2013

Shelby Keefe is a contemporary impressionistic painter, teacher, and performance artist.  Born in Whitewater, WI in 1958, she earned a BFA from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee in 1981.  A landmark in Keefe’s painting career was when she entered her first plein air competition in Cedarburg in 2001.  Her painting,  “Flags Over Cedarburg,” was named the best of show that year and is now in the Cedarburg Art Museum collection.  After retiring from a career in graphic design in 2005, Shelby became a full-time fine artist  with a studio and exhibition space  in Bay View.  Earlier this year, Keefe opened a studio and gallery space entitled Urban Sanctuary in Milwaukee’s Third Ward at 181 N. Broadway Street.  In 2013, Shelby Keefe entered an oil painting executed in Frederick, MD in 2012 in the international Plein Air Salon competition and won the $15,000 grand prize. 

Shelby and her painting of a historical architectural façade are featured as the cover story in the September 2013 Plein Air Magazine.  Shelby Keefe’s works appear in many corporate and private collections.  She enjoys teaching plein air workshops in Wisconsin and beyond.

Artist Statement:  “My subject matter preferences are largely influenced by light. I've always been attracted to subject matter that is enhanced by dramatic lighting. I love painting the effects of light on the sides of buildings and on street scenes and light and shadows dancing across the landscape.  I like to apply the oils freely and liberally over brilliant acrylic underpaintings, creating a juxtaposition of contrasting colors that vibrate and elicit emotional engagement as well as excite the eye.  Having said that, my pieces show all subjects from pastoral landscape to urban landscape to the figure, to the still life.  I use my own photographs as reference as well as painting en plein air.”


“As far as influence, Sister Thomasita Fessler at Cardinal Stritch University was my painting teacher and mentor through my early years as a painter.  I didn't paint like her, but learned to refine my "seeing" and to “speak authentically and expressively" with paint.  She always said, "let the paint do the talking" and this phrase has been my driving force and influence even as an experienced painter.  Drawing ability has been the key to my success as a representational painter, and the way I put the paint on is just a way of "filling in" the line work.  As I expose myself to more "master" painters, I've learned to be less dependent on the drawing and more trusting of the painting process itself.”

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