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Artist Alice Kelsey looks below the surface in new exhibit

For her new exhibit, artist Alice Kelsey focused on a single place — a Centre County pond — and captured it throughout the year. “Spring Rain,” above, is part of the series.
For her new exhibit, artist Alice Kelsey focused on a single place — a Centre County pond — and captured it throughout the year. “Spring Rain,” above, is part of the series. Photo provided

It’s very difficult to put Alice Kelsey into a box.

The same goes for her work, which in the weeks leading up to her show at the Bellefonte Art Museum was still hanging neatly on the walls of the family home in Warriors Mark.

Each of the frames was custom built, furnished by her husband from native Pennsylvanian hardwoods. It’s a relaxed fit, not sloppy but purposeful, allowing enough negative space into the mix to create the impression that work is hovering obediently mid-air for your viewing pleasure.

“It gives a little bit of space so you’re not constraining it,” Kelsey said.

Space is very important to an artist and this one in particular. She walked away from an internal medicine practice just to get her hands on a little more of it, and boy, has that decision paid dividends for the home décor.

Kelsey is coming off what could be loosely termed as her “prolific period.” Everything here, from the living room, to the den, the hallway in between the living room and the den, is a Kelsey original.

If you like ponds, as Kelsey does, this is a very good thing. Most of her work during the past year was inspired by a small body of water lying adjacent to a property owned by a friend.

She’s captured it from every conceivable angle, a tangled collection of tones and perspectives. The results are on display at the Bellefonte Art Museum, and she’s written a book about the series, “Through the Surface — An Exploration of Art-Making Materials” that will be released at the exhibit.

“I’m trying to look beneath it … I care a lot about the whole mood,” Kelsey said.

I’m trying to look beneath it… I care a lot about the whole mood.

Alice Kelsey .

Arriving at that mood is both a function of careful observation and the right tools. Kelsey keeps company with many a different medium — oils, pastels, gouache, acrylic, silverpoint, graphite, ink pen, monotype — anything that looks good up on a wall, really.

Flat surfaces require that kind of attention, even if they’re made of water. When looking at the pond, Kelsey was interested in shadows as much as light, where there was nothing as much as where there was something.

Her appreciation for the interplay between these elements goes beyond the framework of art to flirt with notions of spirituality and emotional connectivity.

“I guess there’s a harmony in that, a richness,” Kelsey said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

IF YOU GO

  • What: “Through the Surface — New Works by Alice Kelsey”
  • When: through May 28
  • Where: Bellefonte Art Museum, 133 N. Allegheny St., Bellefonte
  • Info: www.bellefonte museum.org

Exhibit-related events at the Bellefonte Art Museum

▪ Reception: noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday

▪ Gallery talks: 1-2 p.m. Saturday and 2-3 p.m. May 21

▪ Book signings: 2-3 p.m. Saturday and 2-3 p.m. May 14

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