One of the things I looked forward to the most when I was little, was visiting my grandmother. She lives in Annapolis Maryland, and one of the things she would always do with me and my siblings would be visiting the book store. In the Annapolis Barnes and Noble, there’s this glorious mural I fell totally in love with when I was little. It’s Gary Kelley’s Author Mural, usually found in most of the B&N cafes.
The mural is what got me into researching the classic authors and trying out some of their work, however if there was one thing I adored about it even to this day, it’s the atmosphere captured in the work itself. When I was younger, and didn’t quite know who these people were, I always thought it looked like they were having a wonderful time. There was a certain warmth in the scene that made me wish I could jump into it and meet everyone.
After searching for more of Kelley’s work, I discovered that a majority of his paintings harbored the same welcoming, lively feeling. Not only that, but they all had that same smooth, American Modernism style of painting. This style has always been a favorite of mine, as a majority of the books I read growing up carried illustrations in that same style. It has always been a familiar look, and one I always associate with the pleasantness of childhood, and several good memories. I always catch myself glancing over at the cafe whenever I go to Barnes and Noble , hoping to see the familiar faces of the classic authors in that alluring style.
As for some information on Kelley, he was born in 1945 in Iowa, and also attended school there. He earned in B.A in art in the University of Northern Iowa, and focused his early career on graphic design. His work has been featured in several galleries internationally, and he has won 23 medals from the Society of Illustrators as well as the distinguished Hamilton King Award. He was added to the New York Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame in 2007.
Kelley has illustrated a number of books as well, including the Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving, 1820), Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Edgar Allen Poe, 1849), and many others as well. He has worked with the NBA and NFL, Rolling Stone, and even with Playboy.
You can read more about Gary Kelley and his work on his website here:
Kelley, G. (2008). Dark Fiddler: The Life and Legend of Nicolo Paganini. [Pastel].
Kelley, G. (1996). Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe. [Pastel]
Kelley G. The Flow, [Oil on canvas]
Kelley G. Jimi Hendrix Blues [Oil on Canvas]
Kelley G. Springtime in Paris [Oil on Canvas]
Kelley G. Authors Mural [Oil, Mural]