Almost anything goes

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Kelley recycles ‘things’ into art

By Sharon Graves


The News-Democrat

Sometimes referred to as “The Crazy Art Lady,” local artist Connie Kelley invites the public to an art show unlike any other Carroll County has seen.

The Carroll County Public Library, which is hosting the show, also is hosting a reception for Kelley from 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6.

The show features 40 pieces of Kelley’s self-proclaimed “recycle art,” and will be on display in the library’s community room through the end of the month.

Kelley’s art is always interesting; but if you’re looking for meaning, there just may not be any, she said.

“I feel art is freedom to express whatever mood I am in,” Kelley said. “My mind is open when I paint, and I don’t know where the piece is going when I start. I like to use a lot of color, and my mood dictates what color.”

To help her with her moods, she burns candles and plays music while she creates.

Kelley said she’s been “green” long before being ecologically conscious was fashionable. She’s also always considered herself artsy, and says she’ll use anything and everything to paint on or with – furniture, walls, ceilings, abandoned cabinet doors, wallpaper, trees, Q-tips, toothpicks. Sometimes she’ll even use a paintbrush.

“I try not to buy things; I try to use what I have on hand or can find,” Kelley said, adding that she can see potential in anything as a surface to paint on, or to use in a different way.

“Every thing I do is pretty abstract,” she said. “I’m a recycle junk artist. There is no limit to what I’ll use.”

And she’s not kidding.

Her works feature bottle caps, bullets, yarn, melt beads and many other items, which give a piece a three-dimensional appearance.

Her work may take time to view and “digest,” but it does hold your interest and seems to evoke all sorts of images and ideas.

At her reception, Kelley also will feature a “speed-art demonstration” – a film in fast-forward, showing the creative process for piece a on display.

A life-long Carroll Countian,  Kelley has five siblings and three sons. She works at the Butler-Turpin State Historic House in General Butler State Resort Park, and credits manager Evelyn Welch with believing in her art.

She also credits Brad Wells for his inspiration in getting her back to art, following the death of both of her parents and a difficult divorce.

“Evelyn, Brad and a relative, Kim Mahoney, have helped me be who I am,” she said. “This is really where I want to be.”

Kelley will also be showing her art at the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville during “The Good Folk Fest,” Nov. 21-23. She’ll be in Booth 60.