A selection of work by artist and longtime Blacksburg resident Joe Kelley showcasing his unconventional aesthetic inspired by many sources, including the folk culture of Southwest Virginia and his experience working with contemporary artists, will be featured as part of a suite of summer exhibitions presented by the Moss Arts Center.

The exhibition is currently on view and a reception will be held Thursday, Aug. 4, from 6-8 p.m. in the Moss Arts Center Grand Lobby, 190 Alumni Mall. Kelley will give an artist talk the same evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Ruth C. Horton Gallery. The events are free and open to the public.

Included in the exhibition are 11 sculptures made with carved wood and parts from a broken turn-of-the-century piano found abandoned on a roadside. Also featured is a multipart panel installation, “The Natural History of the Undescribed Birds” (1993-2016), showcasing more thanr 600 of Kelley’s signature small-scale bird paintings that range from 4-by-4 inches to 8-by-10 inches in size.

“Like his sculptures, Kelley’s paintings are created by transforming humble materials into works of art that resonate with an immediate and endearing impact,” said Margo Crutchfield, curator at large for the Moss Arts Center. “Seemingly simple and intuitively rendered, these works reveal the artist’s exploration of the infinitely variable possibilities of color within a consistent compositional format, while simultaneously capturing an uncanny sense of emotion and character.”

Kelley’s exhibition, which was curated by Crutchfield, is on view through Aug. 24.

Kelley received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Virginia Tech in 1991. A key influence in his development as an artist was his association with prominent artist Ray Kass, professor emeritus of art in Virginia Tech’s School of Visual Art. Kelley worked for 10 years with Kass, who introduced him to a wide range of artists, museums, and galleries.  

Kelley’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions in many regional venues, including Virginia Western Community College and the Community High School Gallery in Roanoke, Virginia; the Alexander Black House and XYZ Gallery in Blacksburg, Virginia; Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia; the Jacksonville Center in Floyd, Virginia; and the Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Virginia.

Also on view are selections from Blacksburg sketch artist and painter Steven White, known as “Sketchy Steven,” in the Moss Arts Center’s Francis T. Eck Exhibition Corridor through Aug. 14. In 2015, White challenged himself to paint one portrait a day using reference images from his sketchbooks and Sktchy, a photo-sharing app. This installation is curated by Meggin Hicklin, exhibitions program manager for the Moss Arts Center, and chronicles White’s struggles, revelations, and artistic development throughout the project, titled “100 Portraits.”

White received his bachelor’s degree in communication from Virginia Tech in 1992 and works as a web developer in Virginia Tech’s Office of University Relations.

The center’s galleries’ regular hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The galleries and all related events are free and open to the public.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email kmcallis@vt.edu during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.

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