If you’re used to me posting something about reading and writing, you may be wondering why my guest interview today is with the visual artist Betsy Kellas. The reason? I think there’s a strong link between painting, sculpture, art installations, and written art, poetry and prose. Both use the line intensively though differently. Both intensely explore our everyday reality. And both use layering to create their effects and to add texture to a work. Here, then, is my interview with Betsy, but I urge you to visit her website and view the range of her artmaking: betsykellas.com
Painting caption: The Good mother. The Boy
Betsy Kellas is a painter, printmaker, mixed-media sculptor, and art educator who lives and works in Richmond, California. She maintains an active studio practice in both painting and printmaking and is a founding member of Just Enough Collective, a mixed-media sculpture studio and workshop also located in Richmond. Her work explores the visual and psychological impact of highly abstract images. She finds inspiration in Buddhist thought and other people’s pictures, most recently the Nouveau Realiste paintings of Alburto Burri and the line paintings of Pierrette Bloch. Her work is influenced by her early training as a printmaker and by abstract expressionism and Dada. Ms. Kellas’ work is exhibited internationally and is held in private, corporate, and public collections. She is currently represented by Gallery Route One in Point Reyes Station, California, and Remarque/New Grounds Print Workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Betsy has been a member of Arts of Point Richmond for many years. She is the current Editor of the AOPR newsletter.
Caption for painting: Meditation
What medium(s) are your favorite to work in?
I was trained as a printmaker and still work in that medium. I also paint and am currently collaborating with the installation artist Penelope Anstruther on ceramic sculptures.
What were your early influences and who are your current ones?
In the 1960’s, when I was in high school, I had an opportunity to see a retrospective of the work of Kurt Schwitters, the German Dadaist. That exhibition hit me like a “SNAP-OUT-OF-IT” slap in the face, and opened me to an entirely new and expansive understanding of art. Until then I thought visual art had to be representational and based on drawing – a skill I was developing, but never particularly enjoyed. Schwitters’ beautifully composed collages, often made with odd bits of detritus, introduced me to the power of non-representational imagery and the limitless media available for visual expression. My current influences include Pierrette Bloch, Alburto Burri, Antonio Tapies, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke, Leonardo Drew…the list goes on and on.
Caption for sculpture: Kellas/Anstruther_Landscape with Caves_2019
What are you drawn to in other artists’ work?
Truth, beauty, and craft. When those come together…WOW. You see it and feel it immediately. It’s precognitive. It pitches you out of yourself.
Published writers have to spend an increasing amount of time promoting their work. Is that true for you as a visual artist?
Creating a public/media presence is absurdly time consuming. It requires a great deal of research as well as time spent responding to calls and approaching galleries, institutions, and collectors. Just keeping my website current is daunting, and don’t get me started about social media. And all that has to be done when I’m not working. My studio practice has to come first.
What feeds your creative process? Who or what is your muse?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, but the muse only shows up when I work. If I’m not working, I just make a bunch of good ideas. When I work, I make art.
You can learn more about Betsy’s practice and see examples of her work at betsykellas.com
Caption: Interior Ghost