Thursday, March 20, 2014

Affordable Art: Steve Keene

image from here
Adding a bit of color to a blank wall while on a very tight budget can be difficult. A few common options are to hang a bicycle as if it were art, search through flea markets for affordable finds, hang pretty but empty frames, or create something else oneself. But finding affordable original art is also possible.

When we were faced with a large white space in a new apartment a few years ago, my wife found an artist named Steve Keene who mass-produces his work at a very reasonable price. But more than being affordable art, his process is what intrigues me.

Many artists mass-produce work, but usually it is through selling prints of originals, or hiring other artists to create work in the style of the artist. Ghost-painting, if you will. Instead of using either of these options, Steve Keene paints his pieces in an assembly-line fashion, painting dozens of versions of the same painting all at the same time by doing the same brushstrokes on each of his wooden canvases before adding the next element. See a bit of his process and his thinking behind it here. It's neat to watch him add just one small line of, say, a tree at a time to each of the canvases.

He also has a very interesting way of selling his work -- based in Brooklyn, Steve Keene opens his studio weekly to the public for viewing and sales, as many artists do, but for those who would like to purchase without the trip to the studio, he also sells "5 paintings that kind of range from medium to large" for $30. The online purchaser doesn't know what will be shipped out -- it will be whatever he is working on at the time of the order. Thanks to the unknown of what one will get, it's kind of nerve wreaking and kind of exciting to order online.

Ours are from 2009, when we got seven paintings for $30 online. We picked our favorite six for our wall that needed a focal point, and hung them together as one piece. I like that they are very colorful and have a bit of an outsider art feel to them.

Check out more about Steve Keene and SKSK Brooklyn here and here.

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