The Sea-Worthy Artwork of Michael Keane

Update to this post: Michael F. Keane, Jr. died unexpectedly on March 28, 2015. The following tribute comes from Quidley & Company Fine Art, a gallery that had been home to the artist and his artwork for many years.

“For the past three decades, Michael brought joy to those who viewed his artwork. His serene and luminous marine paintings portrayed the warmth of summer days spent sailing on Nantucket Sound. Keane had the remarkable ability to transport a viewer: to gaze at one of Michael’s beautiful and obviously lovingly wrought images is to imagine yourself cruising on the open sea–whether on a striped sail Beetle Cat or a majestic J-Class yacht–it’s the next best thing to actually being out there.” 

I hope you enjoy a look at some of Michael’s lovely, peaceful work. His contribution to the art world will never be forgotten. 

Rainbow Run

Part One in an Occasional Series on My Favorite Artists

I love the play of light on sand and sea on Nantucket Island.  It inspires artists here just as the light in the South of France has inspired so many of my favorite artists for centuries; the sunlight shimmers and sparkles in a way that is magical to observe, and I am in awe of those talented painters who can capture it on canvas.

Off Boston Harbor

One of those painters is famed marine artist Michael Keane.  A dear friend for years, and a fine arts painter for over half a century, Michael’s work is eagerly sought after by collectors.  His shows are an established tradition here on Nantucket, where people who love to sail and love the sea appreciate the special affinity he has for painting the world of waves and wind.

The Mighty Twelves

Truly a Renaissance man with so many interests and skills I can’t keep track of them all, Michael’s career as a painter was never pre-ordained.  When it was time for college, although he had painted since childhood, his father insisted he attend a teacher’s college instead of art school, hoping to see his son gainfully employed.  But Michael hated it, and he worked instead at a number of mundane and laborious jobs, including time spent in factories, as an auto mechanic and at a shipyard.

Determined to be an artist, though, he served an eight year apprenticeship with noted landscape painter, Edward Harrigan, and a four year apprenticeship with noted marine artist Marshall W. Joyce.  After that, he studied for four years, and then taught portraiture and figure painting with Clemente Micarelli in his studio.  He majored in Visual Design at UMass and afterward taught painting for 17 years.

Blue Horizon

His break into the art world came with a Best in Show award at a Duxbury, Massachusetts art show.  The painting entered there began a new life for Michael, at a time when he desperately needed it.  In poor health from a rheumatic illness, he was unable to summon the strength to continue his physically demanding day job.

He went to his favorite place on Duxbury Beach, and as he describes it, “Everything was going all wrong.  As I stood there, the sky turned black, and it started to hail and rain.  As I looked across the sea, all of a sudden the light broke through.  It raced across the land in a splash of color.  I knew this was a transcendent moment; I felt I was being told to ‘paint this.’”

The Squall at Gurnet Head

He did quick color notes, which became the inspiration for his painting The Squall at Gurnet Head.  After that, things turned sharply around. Everything he painted flew off the wall.  “It was providential,” he says.  “It all happened when things couldn’t get any lower; it felt like a dream.  Things happened the way they needed to happen, when they needed to happen.”

A Twilight Sail

In explaining his creative process, Michael says he loses all sense of time and space when he works.  “I once did a big painting in less than a week—I felt like I didn’t paint it.  I held the brush, and the brush just went.  As an artist, I’m wide open to what I’m receiving.  It’s a sensitive thing.”

Off Nantucket

People have always been drawn to his work, and although he doesn’t understand all the reasons, he thinks it may be related to the reason that he paints.  “Art should elevate life,” he says.  “That’s the whole point of it.  Fine art should express higher ideals.  We get enough in life to pull us down, art should lift us up.

“Like good music, art lifts you, it changes you, it alters your state of consciousness,” he continues.  “That’s what exhilaration is.”

The Last Trap

Everyone who knows Michael, who loves his work, and who buys his paintings, tells him the same thing.  “They tell me they look at the sky now—they say, ‘you made me look at the sky.’”

I can’t imagine a higher elevation for art, or an artist, than that.

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky.” –Victor Hugo

You can find Michael Keane’s artwork at Quidley and Co. Galleries in Boston and Nantucket, Massachusetts, and at Russell Jinishian Galleries in Fairfield, Connecticut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vindication of Vincent Van Gogh

Self Portrait

Just mention the words “Sunflowers” or “Starry Night,” and the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh effortlessly float into mind.  They are the result of the mastery of one of the most prolific and accomplished painters of all time.   Although his distinctive painting style has made him one of the most celebrated—and most easily recognizable—artists in the world, he sold only one painting during his life, and it wasn’t until after his death that he became famous.

Starry Night

Sadly, his name also conjures the image of the “tortured artist,” a man who suffered from hallucinations and grappled with demons.  His short life was marred by hospital stays for mental illness and physical decline.  After just ten years of painting and producing 900 paintings, Van Gogh took his own life in 1890, at the age of 37.

Self Portrait

 In the 122 years since his death, attempts have been made to understand the underlying causes of his feverish work style, his exhaustion and his suffering.  Diagnoses range from bipolar disorder to epilepsy to sunstroke from spending long hours out of doors while painting.

Sunflowers

One of America’s top Environmental Medicine physicians and a fan of Van Gogh since her teens,  Adrienne Sprouse M.D. has spent years studying the life of Vincent, and believes the answer lies in a different direction:  repeated daily exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Sunflowers

The son of a pastor, Vincent didn’t decide to pursue art until 1880, when he was 27.  He studied in Belgium, then lived briefly in Paris with his brother, Theo. He met Pissarro, Monet and Gaugin.  After moving to the South of France in 1888, Vincent re-charged his original somber-toned palette with bright yellows, greens, and blues, deliberately creating contrasts and using light in new ways. Eventually he moved into his Yellow House, using the ground floor as his studio and his second floor bedroom as a private “gallery,” hanging freshly-painted tableaux around his bed to dry.

Yellow House

Even as Vincent was creating his masterpieces, his health was declining.  He was known among his friends for having a nervous temperament, and he could be a difficult companion.  But near the end of 1888 came his famous breakdown.  In December of that year, in an incident involving Gaugin, Vincent cut off part of his ear.  His closest friends feared the worse, as his mental state deteriorated into madness.

Hospital Ward

What happened next is the subject of the Docu-Drama feature film Passion and Poison-The Vindication of Vincent Van Gogh, based on Dr. Sprouse’s extensive research into Vincent’s work and the cause of his mental and physical decline.

Dr. Sprouse has researched Vincent’s medical condition for more than 30 years, traveling to France, Belgium, England and The Netherlands dozens of times, searching through hundreds of documents and medical records.  She has gained unprecedented access to the asylum where Vincent stayed, has taken thousands of photographs, interviewed countless people, including leading experts, meticulously read all of Vincent’s (more than 800!) letters to his brother Theo and others, combed through ancient texts in French (she is fluent) and even followed the trail to a 19th century physician’s belongings stored in a warehouse in a secluded area of southern France.

After years of exhaustive research, Dr. Sprouse is able to make the provocative statement “I know why Vincent Van Gogh died. He wasn’t crazy.” And she can prove it.  The heroic efforts of this dedicated 21st century physician finally sets the record straight on the illness of one of the most celebrated 19th century artists.

“Passion and Poison: The Vindication of Vincent Van Gogh” not only describes Van Gogh’s illness, but also demonstrates how, today, people are becoming sick from products they never suspected would make them ill.  The public health message…exposure to small levels of common chemicals can cause big health problems.

Join director Frank Zagottis, producer Mario Sprouse, and researcher Adrienne Sprouse for a special fundraising event.  For the first time, a 20 minute preview of the documentary film will be shown on the big screen of The Newtown Road Backyard Cinema. 

Wine, soft drinks and food will be served.  A $25 minimum donation toward the production of the film is suggested.  A fireside discussion with the film makers will follow.

See you there!

Sunday, September 23, 2012 6:30 p.m. at the Newtown Road Backyard Film Festival Cinema.   45-19 Newtown Road, Astoria, Queens NY.

For more information: 718-204-2498 or 917-941-3130

Or please visit the website www.passionandpoison.com for more information and to contribute to this ground-breaking movie.

You can read an earlier post by Dr. Sprouse about ADD here.

 Bedroom

 

 

Living an Artful Life

Twelve Meter Cup Contenders by Michael Keane

Art has always been important to me.  I began my studies in Fine Art, graduated from college with a degree in Art Education, and first embarked on a career as an art teacher.  The homes I design must include space for beautiful and significant pieces of artwork, integral to creating an elegant and welcoming interior.

There is nothing like wandering through a gallery to develop an eye for what you love, and really, that’s what collecting art is all about. I have several galleries I turn to again and again for their solid judgement and ability to curate a collection of breathtaking work with emotional resonance.Two of my favorites are Quidley and Co., and Cavalier Galleries.

Quidley and Co has two locations:  one in Boston, and one in Nantucket at 26 Main Street.  Known for their ability to cater to their clients’ unique tastes, they offer a selection of master artists’ work from the United States and Europe and pride themselves on assisting their customers in acquiring and maintaining a fine collection.

Marine artist Michael Keane’s work is represented by Quidley and Co.  Here are two of his paintings currently offered at the gallery, in addition to the work at the top of this post.

Miacomet by Michael Keane

Great Point Lighthouse by Michael Keane

Forrest Rodts is another artist whose work I admire, available through  Quidley and Co.  His seascapes and illustrations capture the sunsets, seascapes and skies of New England.

Window Shell by Forrest Rodts

Peek-A-Boo by Forrest Rodts

Doug Brega is a contemporary artist who paints in the style of American realism.  His New England portraits and landscapes have a wondrous visual and emotional impact.  Here are a few from his collection at Quidley and Co.:

House in Thomaston by Doug Brega

Monhegan Painters by Doug Brega

Amy on Nantucket by Doug Brega

Another favorite artist there is Sergio Roffo, whose work Madaket Mist appears at the top of this post.  Roffo’s coastal landscapes have a luminous feeling that have earned him numerous awards.

Sunset on the Dunes by Sergio Roffo

Path to Great Point by Sergio Roffo

Another favorite gallery is Cavalier Galleries, with locations in Greenwich, Connecticut and on Nantucket, at 35 Main Street.  Cavalier offers fine painting, sculpture and photography, and a stable of artists whose works range from traditional and representational to modern and contemporary.

Wolf Kahn is a favorite artist found at Cavalier. One of the most important colorists working in America today, the German-born Kahn demonstrates a unique blend of Realism and the formal discipline of Color Field painting.

Mostly Magenta and Gray by Wolf Kahn

Vineyard Pond by Wolf Kahn

Whether you visit Quidley and Co., Cavalier or another gallery in your hometown, there’s no substitute for the serenity, beauty and inspiration you’ll find just inside their doors. I hope you’ll be moved to purchase artwork you love, and join the collectors who support the work of fine artists.  Life, and home, would be a poorer place without them.