June Kelly Gallery

Kay WalkingStick
Kay WalkingStick: Works from the 1970s and 1980s

Synaptic Blue, 1982 - Acrylic and wax over double-layered canvas - 56 x 56 inches

Synaptic Blue, 1982
Acrylic and wax over double-layered canvas
56 x 56 inches

June Kelly Gallery is pleased to present Kay WalkingStick: Works from the 1970s – 1980s.  These early paintings by the artist are unique and visionary, formal abstractions reflecting a mixture of artist as philosopher and mystic.  The exhibition will open on November 29, 2918 and will remain on view through January 15, 2019.

These rarely seen paintings mark an important moment in WalkingStick’s career when she completely abandoned the brush and worked the canvas with no other tools, but a knife and razor blade.  Manipulating, multiple times, as many as eight to ten layers of acrylic and cold wax, with her bare hands, WalkingStick achieved real physical presence with the canvas.“  As she applies the forceful surfaces she feels that her personal strength flows into the painting directly through her hands conveying a sense of power and energy,” said art critic, Ida K. Rigby, of ARTWEEK in 1980 in describing the evolvement of WalkingStick’s paintings.

“I want to make paintings that are close to my soul, but also speak to the viewer, paintings that have the feel of history, paintings that have layers of meaning yet paintings that are totally mine.”  Labeling these thoughts, “lofty aspirations,” in her 1978 notes, WalkingStick called her work “grave and gritty abstractions.”

Continuously pushing boundaries sustaining her conviction that art is the balance of the intellectual and the intuitive, WalkingStick wrote in the 1980s that her painting process is a combination of development of the composition which is logical and reductive with application of paint which is ritualistic and emotive.

WalkingStick thinks of painting as a primal language of essences speaking visually of things which cannot be stated otherwise.  Her surfaces evince none of the neutrality or visual passivity allied with the concept of minimalism.  She employs no symbolism as influence for meaning.  Her austere vocabulary, contemporary in concept yet primitive in application is limited to floating arcs, gashes, scattered and broken lines against rough textured surfaces that convey viewpoint without reference to the visible world (Giddy Grey, 1978).

WalkingStick’s paintings often grand in size, seductive in color (Synaptic Blue, 1982) enter the viewer’s psychological space aggressively as tactile objects as they are set off from the wall by deep stretchers around which she extends her gutsy painterly surfaces.  Deeply incised markings resonate a cosmic consciousness within the perception of boundless space.  There is in these works a quiet calm, says WalkingStick, due to the underpinning of geometry - the grid upon which she builds simple paintings with a sensuous rhythm.

WalkingStick says people glean diverse meanings from her early work, ‘If you’re a feminist, an Indian, a western formalist, you will relate to it that way and it’s all there.  Everything done, felt and experienced will eventually come out in painting.’  She is singularly unpossessive and ecumenical about her work”

WalkingStick lives and works in Easton, Pennsylvania.  She holds a BFA from Arcadia University (formerly Beaver College), Glenside, Pennsylvania, and an MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.  In November 2018, she will be inducted into the National Academy of Art and Design, New York City.  In 2011 she was awarded the prestigious Lee Krasner grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. In 2003, she received the Distinguished Artist Award from the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art, Indianapolis, Indiana, and in 1995 she won a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in Painting. WalkingStick is a recipient of the National Honor Award for Achievement in the Arts from the Women’s Caucus for Art, and a Visual Artist Fellowship in Painting from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has been a visiting artist and lecturer at Skowhegan, and also had a residency at the Rockefeller Conference & Study Center, Bellagio, Italy.

WalkingStick’s works have been shown in numerous one-person and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe. She is represented in major public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; the Montclair Art Museum, NJ; the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, MI; the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN; the Hunter Museum, Chattanooga, TN; the Kalamazoo Institute of Art, MI; the Newark Museum, NJ; the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ; the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond; the National Museum of American Indian, Smithsonian, Washington, DC; the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the National Museum of Canada, Ottawa.

WalkingStick’s work was the subject of a large-scale retrospective at the National Museum of the American Indian (November 7, 2015- September 18, 2016) and traveled to the Dayton Art Institute (February 9-May 7, 2017); the Kalamazoo Institute of Art (June 17-September 10, 2017); the Heard Museum (October 13, 2016-January 8, 2017); the Gilcrease Museum (October 5, 2017-January 7, 2018); and the Montclair Art Museum (February 3, 2018-June 17, 2018).


Click on thumbnail for larger image.

Diminished Reversal - 1973-74

Red Painting/Red Person - 1976

Personal Icon A - 1975

Equinox - 1983

Sundance - 1983

Solstice - 1983

  Kay WalkingStick Bio

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