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Renowned local artist exhibits on Main Street

Ashley McCallum, Co Editor-in-Chief

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In a career that has taken her around the country, local artist Shelby Keefe has found her way back home at the Cultural Art Center (CAC) during its decade celebration on Main Street.

Keefe’s show “On the Road Again,” will be on display at the CAC beginning Feb. 11 and will feature many of Keefe’s paintings from her nation-wide travelling. The show will focus mainly on her primary style, plein air paintings, a style of art derived from the French term meaning “open air” where artists travel to new areas and spend a week painting landscapes of that community, normally ending the week with a show and competition.

Keefe grew up in the countryside between Whitewater and Janesville and attended Whitewater High School. As she travels the country competing in plein air painting competitions, Keefe finds solace in spending time with her craft outside.

“I love and appreciate the outdoors and that never left me, even when I moved to Milwaukee,” Keefe said. “Being outside makes me very very happy and I can feel kinda blissed out at times. Coming from the country, being outside makes me feel at home when I’m away.”

This year’s show is not the first time Keefe has been featured at the CAC, with another show featured in 2009 on her CV.

“Watching Shelby Keefe [when she was here in 2009], that was so much fun to watch her do that,” Marjorie Stoneman, CAC volunteer said. “Out of nothing she just painted this beautiful piece which, of course, is why she is a nationally known artist.”

Keefe believes a combination of a supportive community and artistic family in her youth helped cultivate her current career as a fine artist. Her grandmother was a local artist and she believes Whitewater is a great community for cultivating an appreciation for creativity and the arts.

“Whitewater’s always been so friendly and supportive of me being an artist, even when I was in high school,” Keefe said. “I was asked to work on art things like ‘let’s get Shelby to design the poster, she can help with the float or the newsletter.’ That’s what made me the most happy was doing anything art related.”

After a 26 year career in graphic design after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cardinal Stritch UNiversity in Milwaukee, Keefe moved into freelancing and eventually fine arts, commissioning paintings primarily in Milwaukee.

Keefe attributes a positive attitude and ambition to becoming a successful fine artist. She believe that positivity and hard-work in the arts is often more important than talent.

“My best advice for young people is stay positive,” Keefe said. Talk about the things you want to do and the things you desire and not about the things you don’t want to do and you can’t stand. Your attitude and your ambition are more important than anything you want to do to make a living, especially if you’re an artist because people do tend to think you can’t make a living as an artist but you can if you try to keep your mental attitude positive.”

Keefe’s show “On the Road Again” will show at the CAC from Feb. 11 to March 19. The CAC is open to the public Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Keefe will also be teaching a painting technique workshop at the CAC on Feb. 12 from 1 to 4 p.m. Prior registration is required.

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Renowned local artist exhibits on Main Street