• People: Charlsie Kelly and the Art of Life

    Artist Profile by Robert Lewis

    Pacific Grove artist Charlsie Kelly is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy time. Kelly’s straightforward approach to life, her deep creativity, and mischievous take on the world, shines through in her demeanor and in her work: watercolors, oils, acrylics, sculpture, jewelry and even clothing. Kelly was one of the founders of Gallery 417 on Cannery Row, and Kelly’s Grand Avenue Artworks, formerly in the basement level of the Pacific Grove Art Center building, was, until recently, a creative hub of artistic activities such as exhibits, demonstrations, artist receptions, and art classes for children and adults.

    Though Artworks is now closed, Kelly has opened a working studio just one door down Grand Avenue in the same complex where you can find Crackpot Studios and Bijouterie. She has taken over part of the space once used by artist David Rojas and his Red Mill Gallery, transforming the space. One stands in her studio awestruck at all the work and the palpable creative prowess that emanates from this woman and from her work.

    She apologizes for “the mess”, but it’s not a mess so much as a very complicated assembly of artistic pieces, paintings, mobiles, art supplies, photos, jewelry, shelves of books, canvases, and art supplies. Everywhere you look, there is another bright, colorful, whimsical expression of Kelly’s unstoppable creative output. A large canvas of a big pink heart stands on an easel, a work in progress, typical of her positive perspective. A drafting table holds the latest sketches of her planned work. You get the sense that if the art supplies could talk they would be saying “Here she comes! Here she comes!” the studio is so full of life. However, the studio is not a mess. There is a very solid structure and order underlying all of this seeming clutter. In some mysterious way, it is all balanced and in its place, much like Kelly herself.

    Kelly’s new studio is yet another beginning that, from the outside, looks like a life of beginnings. Surviving the death of two husbands and five bouts of cancer, Kelly has a real sense of proportion about life. “You just don’t sweat the small stuff.” she says, shrugging her shoulders and smiling generously, projecting a happy, “get over it” attitude. She is sitting in her studio, surrounded by the wonderland of her art past, present, and in progress, talking enthusiastically about her upcoming adventures.

    One of those adventures is her planned trip to Costa Rica, where she is Artist-in-Residence at the Hemingway Inn, a boutique hotel in San Jose. Kelly has made a few of these trips to San Jose, Costa Rica, to spend time at the Inn painting murals and decorating rooms with her prolific talent. She typically spends several weeks there, finishing art projects for her host and painting on location.

    During this time in residence, Kelly will be living for about two months on the outskirts of San Jose, where she has taken a small house in an international artist community. Her time spent in Costa Rica has been rich with experience and human relationships. Living in the hotel for that time, she becomes close with staff, socializing, becoming friends. Kelly stories of these times conjure colorful images of big dinners, warm people, swaying music, and laughter. “They’re family.” she states.

    Certainly, Costa Rica and Pacific Grove are an interesting contrast, each with its own difference in people and place. One place lends perspective to the other. In the time spent in Costa Rica, painting, living day by day, relaxing into a slower pace, Kelly finds a renewal in her own perspective, and new beginnings when she returns to Pacific Grove.

    Charlsie Kelly’s work is exhibited in Costa Rica at Gallery Teoteca, but can be seen locally at Pacific Grove Florist, Sand and Glass on Cannery Row, and, by appointment, in her studio on Grand Avenue in Pacific Grove. See charlsiekelly.com for lots of photos and contact information.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on March 5, 2009

    Topics: Uncategorized


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