Stan Kelly – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #137

November 2023

For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features visual artist Stan Kelly. Over the years, he has worked in multiple mediums: everything from pencil, charcoal, pastel, oil paints, acrylic paints, stained glass, clay, wood, ink, gouache, as well as found objects ranging from computer parts to chains and rocks. He added, “I’ve also been heavily invested in photography for many years and using a computer to manipulate my images.”

Kelly was born and raised in Winnipeg, but spent 10 years in Calgary. Despite his time in Alberta, he stayed connected to Manitoba. Since the early 60’s, he has owned a cabin at Pinawa Bay on the shores of the Lee River, after a subdivision opened up there. In 2006, upon returning to Manitoba, the original cabin was torn down, and Kelly and his wife had their present home built on the same location.

Kelly’s wife, Cathy Gregg, is the new WRAC administrator and also a visual artist, featured in June’s artist profile. Recently, Kelly and Gregg registered their business name “Pinawa Bay Fine Folk and Photo Art” and secured a domain name. His daughter is in the process of establishing their website where they intend to feature their work.

No one thing acts as a catalyst for Kelly’s art. From small objects to large, from Nature to the artificial constructs of humans, there are endless influences in his imagery. He said, “As well as nature inspiring my artistic vision, the ability to plumb the depths of abstract and surrealistic thought are key inspirations. I am currently, and have been for some time, resurrecting historical images and reinvigorating them with a new take on what’s come before.”

Kelly’s earliest recollection of getting hooked on art came from a kindergarten experience. When he was giving his crayons a workout, depicting the sun in the middle of a drawing, his teacher informed him the sun couldn’t be placed in the middle of the scene.

He said, “Apparently, the sun had to be in the corner of the page! Even at that age I thought to myself -‘When do you ever see the sun in the corner of the sky?’ Thus began a love of art that, to this day, requires a questioning of opinions.”

In 1988, Kelly earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Manitoba. It took him a while, since he worked full time and was a single parent raising two children. He said, “By the time I’d finished my program, fellow students asked me if I was the professor. When presenting my student card number, people asked me if I had missed a number. My standard response was ‘No, I’m just a slow learner!’”

Aside from preparing and presenting an introduction to Surrealism for a grade school class many years ago, he hasn’t done any instructing. Although he has exhibited in a few shows, it seemed he couldn’t keep his art around for long; he’d complete a piece and then sell it. Lately, he is more focused on accruing a supply of finished works and not marketing them right away.

Also, when asked about public accolades, he said, “I don’t create works for awards, prizes, or any other rewards.”

After studying fine art and listening to endless comments about its essence, Kelly has learned to reject negative comments about what constitutes “Art.” He said, “From an artist’s viewpoint, art should be whatever you enjoy producing. Whether others like or reject what you’re doing, that is moot. If a person has a fire within, they can produce art, in whatever form it might take.”

Kelly finds the wide range of visual arts that impact people interesting, but not surprising. He said, “I’m always impressed when someone who is not blunted by the over-saturation of images in our society steps up with insightful observations about a particular art work.”

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