RAM Talks Art: Keith Grace: Rockford Art Museum’s ‘super hero’ Artist-in-Residence


By Carrie Breitbach

Customer Service Coordinator, Rockford Art Museum

I am a huge fan of Keith Grace. Not only is he a great artist, but his personal style is off the charts. He is like a “Where’s Waldo” character. You can definitely pick him out of a crowd. Bright blond highlights, colorful shirts, wild print pants and always topping it off with a hip hat or leather jacket. This, in my mind, is what an artist should look like. He also happens to be one of the friendliest folks I’ve ever met. His combination of fun personality and awesome wardrobe made him a perfect candidate for our Artist-in-Residence program.

Artist-in-Residence is a program that we offer at Rockford Art Museum (RAM) during each run of a feature exhibition. It starts with a tour of the exhibition, followed by an art project taught by a local artist. This program is offered to any public, private or home school group.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Keith to get a one-on-one interview to dissect this eclectic character and find out more about what inspires him.

CB: Let’s just get a couple of the old doozies out of the way. Any superstitions?

Keith: I am terrified of clowns and avoid them at all costs. Does that count?

CB: I was thinking more like you have to walk around each painting 20 times before you show it, but I still enjoy hearing that clowns scare you. What’s your sign?

Keith: Slippery When Wet. My zodiac sign is Cancer. And, yes, I can be crabby.

CB: When did you start creating collage pieces, and what was the inspiration?

Keith: I started using collage in my work as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines. My paintings today are an evolution of my illustration work.

CB: I see that you have a soft spot for our furry friends, what’s up with that?

Keith: People are passionate/crazy about their pets (i.e., Carrie B.). I think cats and dogs are magical and make interesting subjects.

CB: Which do you prefer, cats or dogs?

Keith: You can’t ask me that! It would be fiscally irresponsible to alienate my dog or cat customers. Rarely are they the same.

CB: Do you do custom work?

Keith: Yes, as long as I have artistic freedom.

CB: Could you do something with, say, this face (picture of Maebe)?

Keith: See, I told you Carrie was crazy about her dog! Yes, she has an adorable face.

CB: Love your style. What’s the craziest outfit you’ve ever sported?

Keith: Suit and tie. Feels like a costume on me.

CB: How about your hair? Ever gone blue or purple?

Keith: Not yet. Just my natural blond. I would love silver but don’t have the patience for the process.

CB: So what new ventures do you have on the horizon?

Keith: I’m actually going to experiment with sculpture next. 3-D versions of my paintings. I can’t wait to begin.

Come check out Keith’s show Newstories in the Art Annex now through Dec. 6.

I wish I had more time with Keith, but he had to whip on his cape, hop on his motorcycle and go fight some villains. As you can see, he’s kind of a super hero to us here at the museum.

For more information about Keith Grace, you can visit his Web sites at www.grace-design.com and www.hipdogcoolcat.com. If you’d like more information about the RAM Artist-in-Residence program, please contact Stacey Sauer at (815) 972-2874 or ssauer@rockfordartmuseum.org.

From the November 11-17, 2009 issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!