Artist Spotlight: Richard Keen

Our gallery Director Allyson Boli sat down with Richard Keen to learn more about his creative process. Not only is Richard both a talented painter and sculptor, but he also has three studio dogs! Read our interview below to learn more about him:

Allyson Boli: What was your initial spark to be an artist?  

Richard Keen: I can remember drawing and tracing a lot as a child. Throughout school, I also gravitated to art and music classes and fortunately went to a public high school that had a solid art program with four art faculty who were very supportive.  After high school, when it came time to decide between moving to LA to become a “Rock and Roll Star” versus going to college for art, something inside me must have known I would be a better visual artist – that plus a heavy parental urging to go to college.   

AB: What is your creative process like? Do you begin with an end result envisioned?

RK: My creative process generally starts with turning on music and looking around at what I did last. I often have at least 10-15 pieces happening at once and paints mixed up ready to go so that I can jump right in and get messy. Most of my work starts with putting down some light ground colors with acrylics to block out some simple shapes. Then, I start building up lines, shapes, colors and textures with my oils. Sometimes I have a sense of a basic direction that I want a painting to head in, or I try to capture elements of other paintings that I’ve completed, but I don’t typically have a vision for an end result. 

AB: So it sounds like you’re working on multiple pieces at once, how does that play into your overall process?

RK: Yes, I find that working on similar but different bodies of work at the same time keeps my work moving in interesting directions. I often find that one painting, or group of paintings, informs the other and helps me with color choices, textures and generally keeps me from getting stuck in a rut. 

AB: What inspired your sculptural and shaped paintings? 

RK: My current sculptural and shaped paintings come from within my “Form Singularity” paintings and through finding shapes that resonate with me. I’ve been exploring three-dimensional work as far back as I can remember, but I think that I would have to say that making shaped paintings could be directly attributed to my appreciation for Elizabeth Murray’s work. I can also say that walking through a boatyard in the off season, and seeing how boat hulls get sanded and repainted also stimulated my urge to make shaped work. I think I saw a rudder laying on the ground half sanded by the yard crew… that was a moment of inspiration for me too.

AB: What made you move toward the more minimal style of the Form Singularity series?  

RK: I’ve leaned towards simplifying, reducing, and minimizing the amount of information that I put onto the canvas all along my path as an artist. As far back as high school, I remember working with simplified shapes and amplified colors. My “Form Singularity” Series is, in a sense, my natural state of being, while my other series act as bridges for viewers to cross over into the way I see the world.   

AB: Are there any artists that inform your work?  

RK: Oh yes… I love so many fantastic artists. I mentioned Elizabeth Murray earlier, who I was lucky enough to meet a couple times. I’m a fan of Richard Diebenkorn, Clyfford Still, Helen Frankenthaler and so many of the late greats. A few contemporary artists that I admire greatly are Julie Mehretu, Cadence Giersbach, Chris Ofili, Gary Hume and David Tremlett.  

AB: What are you currently working on? 

RK: I’m currently working on new “Form Singularity” paintings, new “Island Geometry and Sea Geometry” paintings, and several new sculptures while balancing out the demands of a couple upcoming three-person shows here in Maine. I’m also working on a Public Art Project through Maine’s Percent for Art Program. The multi-panel mural is an 8’ x 8’ abstraction made up of 6 geometric panels linked closely to my “Island Geometry” and will be installed in June of 2020.

View Richard Keen’s work in our exhibition Almost Exactly on view through June 16, 2019.

Artist Richard Keen in front of his work at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery: Form Singularity No. 165, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 72 x 64 in., 2019

Artist Richard Keen in front of his work at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery: Form Singularity No. 165, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 72 x 64 in., 2019

Opinion: Top 3 Art Podcasts

A few weeks ago, local art advisor Hadley Powell posed the question on her Instagram, “what podcasts are you listening to?” Incidentally, she had also recently told me about the podcast Collect Wisely which has quickly become my favorite podcast about art. Hadley’s question made me think further about the arts focused podcasts I am listening to right now and why, so I thought I’d share:

1.     Collect Wisely

Host: Gallerist Sean Kelly
Who should listen: Anyone interested in the arts (so, essentially everyone!)

Image courtesy of @seankellyny Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BihpqlTny6n/

The podcast’s mission says it all: “in which we sit down with people who care deeply about art and discuss their passion for collecting. This is an initiative we’ve wanted to do for quite some time. In which we question the nature of collecting and connoisseurship in the 21st Century, and through doing so hope to inspire a new generation of collectors and individuals committed to making a vital and meaningful investment in our common cultural future.”

Each episode features an interview with a different art collector, with the featured guests ranging in age, heritage, gender, sometimes couple, Sean Kelly does a wonderful job of welcoming all to the art word. It is a refreshing reminder that some of today’s top art collectors started out buying $500 prints through multiple payments in their younger years. The Podcast serves as a unique opportunity to hear the stories of these art supporters directly, and that building an art collection can happen in many different ways that are only specific to each person. Thank you Hadley for the great recommendation! 

My favorite episode to date: Episode 8 with Jill and Peter Kraus

2.     Armchair Expert

Hosts: Actor Dax Shepard and his friend Monica Padman
Who should listen: This podcast is for everyone, but I would especially recommend listening if you are early in your career in the arts (artists, gallerists, consultants, etc!)

Each episode is an interview with a different celebrity in the entertainment industry. Dax and Monica navigate a casual conversation with their guest, ranging from starting their career, family life, mental health awareness, current projects, personal relationships…to many other topics I can’t mention here because our blog is G rated! The most important takeaway from each episode: being in an arts related field takes hard work, a lot of perseverance, and it will likely be a very long road to success – and that’s okay. I also quickly noticed a pattern in the success stories: those who kept an open mind and were willing to trying new opportunities outside of their comfort zone are most likely to succeed. It’s also a great reminder that many big name celebrities had very un-glamorous beginnings (think: unpaid extra in a scene where it is pouring rain, in Maine, in the winter). You will walk away from each episode most likely laughing hysterically, and also remembering that you never know where an opportunity will lead.

 My favorite episode to date: Episode 29 with Mila Kunis

Image courtesy of @armchairexppod Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvt1ZwRFOX8/

3.     I Like Your Work: Conversations with Artists, Curators & Collectors

Host: Artist Erika B Hess
Who should listen: Artists, curators, gallerists, art consultants, and anyone who supports the arts

Image courtesy of @ilikeyourworkpodcast Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BvEhL9ZDUKa/

This podcast is dedicated to interviewing creative people who are both involved in a creative lifestyle and also in building community. Erika has a way with making her guests at ease and in their element, which makes the podcasts fun, interesting, and a great way to learn more about the behind the scenes that happens in the art world. If you go to her website, she does online features of artists in her Studio Visit section of her blog. This October I am looking forward to exhibiting the work of an artist at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery who I discovered on her website (so again, you never know what opportunity leads to something else!)

One spoiler: I was featured on episode 28, but I was listening to this podcast even before Erika asked me to be on it and already loved it!

Favorite episode to date: Episode 27 with artist Amy Lincoln


There are dozens of other amazing podcasts related to the arts, this list is just the top three I am listening to right now. Enjoy!

- Abigail Ogilvy

Artist Spotlight: Daisy St. Sauveur

One of our favorite things about contemporary art is getting to know the artist behind the work. While the work itself tells a story, the artist’s background further paints the picture of where they came from and how they got to where they are today. We sat down with our artist Daisy St. Sauveur to learn everything about her - from growing up in New England to navigating her artistic career:

Abigail Ogilvy: Tell us a little more about your background.

Daisy St. Sauveur: I grew up in Cohasset, Massachusetts- it's a tiny ocean town in the South Shore. My mom is a graphic designer/painter, and my dad works in music. I knew I wanted to be an artist my whole life, but until 2015 I thought I would study illustration (I was obsessed with anime and cartoons growing up!). I ended up declaring as a printmaking major at MassArt and I've been studying it ever since.  

AO: So what was your initial spark to be an artist?  

DSTS: Since my mom is an artist, I was lucky enough to be introduced to art at a very young age. We would see all kinds of artists- from Miyazaki to Thiebaud- I was introduced to many different styles at a young age. Making art was the one thing I could focus on when I was growing up (I probably went through five sketchbooks a year!). There was definitely a period of time in middle school when I was fascinated with anime, and I think that interest inspired a lot of the shapes and colors I currently use.

AO: How did you choose your medium? 

DSTS: While I was a freshman at MassArt, I wandered into a student printmaking show one rainy morning. The work was so fresh and interesting, it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Being the impulsive person I am, I decided on the spot that I would study printmaking instead of illustration. Print allows me to work in a layered, collage-like way, and I can easily make variables and play with the piece until I'm satisfied. 

I've also started painting a lot more- primarily acrylic. Painting has taught me patience, I can't be as impulsive with it, but I've learned a lot about creating unique shapes and spaces.

AO: What is your creative process like? When you begin a new work do you have a vision of the end result?  

DSTS: I always have a vague idea of what I want a piece to look like but I never know for sure. I'll start with a sketch and then realize 'You know what? I'm bored I'm gonna scribble on this.' Or I'll cut it up, collage it, paint over it, etc. I love to push my artwork as far as I can. I try to make things as chaotic as possible while staying along the lines of the original composition. Whenever I mess up, I'll paint a big square or scribble over it- kind of like white out. I always like the pieces I "mess up" better than the ones that go exactly as planned.

AO: We love that organic chaos in your work! With that in mind, what themes do you pursue? 

DSTS: Recently I've been interested in branding and advertising. The idea of interruption seems to be a common theme in my work lately. I love working with pop culture, social media, and the visual relationship between architectural and organic forms. As a young artist, my experience is a little different from those who grew up in the 90s. The 2000s fascinate me, and I take a lot of my subjects from that era.  

AO: What are you currently working on?  

DSTS: Right now I'm working on a series of screenprints that have advertisement-like interruptions. One of the pieces I'm most excited about features a pink and yellow jungle-like pattern with a vintage Sandals Resort ad in the middle of it. I really want to explore that frustrating feeling of interruption and obstruction. I'm constantly being bombarded by commercials- from Youtube and Instagram to the radio, billboards, or even airplanes. What would it be like if fine art had advertisements too?

AO: Are there any artists that inform your work?

DSTS: There are so many artists I love, but my favorites are Jonathan Lasker, Henri Matisse, Nona Hershey, Cy Twombly, Takashi Murakami, Ricardo Bofill, David LaChapelle, and Leroy Neiman.

Check out Daisy St. Sauveur’s work at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery on view through June 16, 2019!

Daisy St. Sauveur, Side C, Etching with screenprint, 22 x 18 in. (framed), 2018

Daisy St. Sauveur, Side B, Etching, 22 x 18 in. (framed), 2018

Press Release: Almost Exactly

Cassandra C. Jones • Richard Keen • Daisy St. Sauveur
May 3 – June 16, 2019

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to present Almost Exactly, an exhibition featuring new artwork by Cassandra C. Jones, Richard Keen, and Daisy St. Sauveur. The exhibition requires the viewer to actively engage with the artwork, recognize its subjects and representation, and perceive the contradictions inherent in all three artists’ themes and methods. Cassandra C. Jones is a remix artist who works with prints, digital art, collage, and video to tell contemporary stories, challenging perception and understanding of everyday imagery. In this exhibition, Jones will debut a new series of prints alongside a wallpaper installation. The gallery is pleased to introduce two new artists in this show, Daisy St. Sauveur and Richard Keen. St. Sauveur creates loud and vibrant prints and paintings, breathing life into the outdated media of printmaking that is often overlooked by younger generations. Keen utilizes minimalism and abstraction in his paintings, removing unnecessary details and simplifying the world and his subjects into their most basic forms.

All three artists approach their art using a continuous exploratory path through which they are regularly decontextualizing, deconstructing, and reconstructing. They break down their images either by reducing them to minimalist detail, discarding the image’s previous identity, or stripping them of context altogether – inherently creating a new identity or meaning for the image at hand. The resulting form is created in a way that is specific to each artist’s process and technique.

Cassandra C. Jones (left), Richard Keen (center), Daisy St. Sauveur (right)

The included artworks play with the dichotomy between the perceived and the portrayed image. Jones, St. Sauveur, and Keen all use symbols, shapes, and objects that are readily recognizable, but they have depicted and applied them in such a way that requires the viewers to actively assess and study the work. The artists offer an perspective that is ripe for the viewer to analyze based on their own knowledge and experiences.

Cassandra C. Jones remixes photos into a composition completely disparate from their component image, ultimately becoming prismatic reflections of contemporary pop culture. In her new body of work, Forever Temporary, she uses a single image of a beach ball to create a variety of cactus species. In 2017, a massive wildfire swept through the small desert town of Ojai, CA, where Jones’ lives. It consumed over 500 homes on the very first night and raged for over a month. All the modern-day conveniences, and synthetics of our time, turned to acidic embers, bad gases, and nano-plastics. They rose up into the air, into the atmosphere and then they gently floated down, onto our landscape, as the softest and smallest of relics. When the rains finally came so did a super bloom of color; flowers and succulents, cactus and perennials blanket the terrain. Just like the smog that makes the sunsets more beautiful; it is so vibrant yet still spoiled. The beach ball represents the ordinary disposable possessions in our lives. It is pretty, shiny, and fun, much like new technologies, beauty products, food packaging, synthetic clothes; and like all of those things it is short-lived and replaceable. In whatever way our creations of this caliber are disposed of or destroyed, recycled or reused, the human-made ingredients that go into them are becoming part of our natural world, creating shifting waters, altered landscapes, and new gardens that are forever and temporary all at once. 

Daisy St. Sauveur

Daisy St. Sauveur works in screenprint and etching to decontextualize a traditional medium into our technology-based society that is keen on receiving immediate gratification. She utilizes bright colors, abstraction, and recognizable symbols based on American pop culture and the 2000s. As an artist born into the first year of Generation Z, she wants her art to be extreme, intense, and memorable. St. Sauveur’s logo is representative of things that come and go quickly; the “ST” symbol engulfed by the recognizable Beanie Babies™ logo is a reminder of fads that come and go with haste. A collection of hundreds of items, tossed out with the introduction of the next trend in sight. However, the things that define Daisy’s generation—rap music, bright colors, technology, and partying—are, in fact, not fads but instead important concepts that continue to evolve in life today. St. Sauveur’s artwork poses the question: As we near a new decade of the 2020s, how do we continue to intertwine the old with the new?

Richard Keen simplifies the world and his subjects into their most basic forms: line, shape, color, and texture. The primary factor in his art is the merger between abstraction and realism. Keen’s Form Singularity series is rooted in a minimalist, reductive approach to painting. His imagery is ocean-based, with horizons and water, and contain many of the structural elements of boats – a rudder, an oar, the hull of a ship. In choosing his subjects, Keen focuses on both natural and man-made surroundings for inspiration. Rooted in both the past and present, he considers the history of Maine when creating his paintings. While the works are meant to reference objects and scenes, by removing the details almost entirely Keen urges the viewer to step away and then get close in order to understand the work’s meaning.

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Cassandra C. Jones lives and works in Ojai, CA. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts and received her BFA from California College of Arts with a concentration in Photography/Glass. Jones has been awarded artist residencies in Germany, the Czech Republic, Canada, and across the United States, and her work has been exhibited both throughout the United States and in Europe. Select recent exhibitions include Digital Worlds: New Media from the Museum’s Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TX (2018), The Awakening, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Boston MA (2017), and Ritual and Desire, Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS (2017). She has received several awards and residencies, including the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, Drake Hotel Artist Residency, Invitational, Toronto, Canada (2006), and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment awarded by the Virginia Center of Creative Arts (2004).

Richard Keen is a contemporary abstract artist who works in a variety of media, including painting, murals, and sculpture. He has shown in numerous New England solo and group exhibitions at the University of Maine Museum of Art, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Elizabeth Moss Gallery, The Painting Center, New York, Gallery 49, Simon Gallery, and Barrett Art Center, among others. Keen has been featured in Art New England, Boston Voyager Magazine, Portland Herald Press, and Maine Home and Design.

Daisy St. Sauveur is a printmaker and painter working in Boston, MA. She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, MA. From screenprint to etching, St. Sauveur combines different methods of printmaking with drawing and painting to work in a way that is layered, colorful, and collage-like. Her work has been featured locally at the Piano Craft Gallery, the South Shore Art Center, and most recently at the MassArt Annual Auction.