Local artist Karen Keil Brown is known for striking a balance between earth and sky, realism and abstraction in her work. While taking classes recently at the Art Student League in New York City, she became influenced by the city landscape of grids and squares and has created a new series of paintings that portray a whimsical, transcendent dance between color, shapes and light.
For the month of September, Brown will be featured in the F.W. Gallery at Woolworth Walk. Timed so that visitors can also enjoy the corresponding art walk, an opening reception for the artist will be held on Friday, September 1, from 5–7 p.m.
Brown has worked as a professional artist for more than 30 years and her work is represented in numerous private and corporate collections nationwide. This new series is a departure from her usual tranquil scenes of nature. Instead of a forested mountainside cloaked in a muted depth of mist and shadow, she focuses on drips, shapes and contrasts within an abstract composition.
“In this series of paintings,” she says, “it was a nice change to paint in the grid composition, using a small brush and filling in the shapes like a puzzle, compared to the bigger brush strokes in the big sky oil landscapes.”
Born in New Jersey and raised in Asheville, Brown has been an artist since grade school. Her grandfather, who was a painter and fashion designer in NYC, was a huge inspiration. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UNC-Asheville and, after teaching for ten years in a private school and raising a family, she devoted herself to painting full-time.
Brown’s current studio is at Pink Dog Creative in the River Arts District. She supports the local chapter of Arts for Life and the WNC Design Guide, and is a board member of the Asheville Area Arts Council, a UNCA trustee, an art teacher and a passionate outdoorswoman and nature photographer. She considers her painting as her way of connecting with the land.
“I usually paint in my studio,” she says, “using photos from my outdoor adventures to inspire me but not to dictate the outcome of the work. I like to free up my imagination, which provides many opportunities for happy accidents to influence the final painting. There is a spiritual significance in nature’s forms, a spiritual landscape within a physical one.”
F.W. Gallery at Woolworth Walk is located at 25 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. Gallery Hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 828.254.9234 or visit woolworthwalk.com.