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In the Spotlight - Kate Kelly ‘74

When It Comes to the Arts, She Does It All

Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly

She is an artist, photographer, poet, and actress. She started writing poetry at a very young age, and can’t ever remember a time when she wasn’t making art. You could say that Kate Kelly is a Renaissance Woman. No, actually, you should say it.

Kate, who graduated from Farmingdale State College with a liberal arts degree in 1974, has a portfolio that many in the visual, written and performing arts would envy. Though she has been creating art all her life, she says she hit the tipping point in 1961, when she was just a first grader.

“I remember being most intrigued by a cover story in Life magazine about Pablo Picasso,” says Kate, who lives in Northport. “The aspect of his life that most appealed to me was his sense of freedom, and how over time he explored letting go of the confines of the traditional approach to art, in favor of rediscovering the ‘child’ in him.”

The “child” in Kate has led her to explore many forms of expression too, working in mediums such as painting, sculpture, collage, photography, welding and computers.

“As an artist, I have experimented in many of all the available media to express my love for the visual image,” says Kate, who was designated a New York State Woman of Distinction in 2005. “Each medium presents its own world of possibilities that I explore.

“I work intuitively and generally without having any preconceived notion of where a piece will travel until I arrive at a place where the image feels finished, resolved.”

Color, she says, is very important in her recent work. You can examine that at her next two shows – at a group exhibition - “An Artist’s Vision of Northport: Architectural Form, Line and Detail” – at the Northport Historical Museum, now through January 2, 2015, and December 5 – 28 at a national juried show at the fotofoto gallery in Huntington (where she was one of 30 artists selected from 1,100 entries). Look at her list of previous exhibits and see an artist that is known Island-wide and beyond, having exhibited in galleries from Riverhead to the east to the Bronx to the west.

You might also catch her within that zone reading her poetry, around the Island at open mic nights, and at venues such as the annual Kerouac Festival in Lowell, Mass.; the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan, and at the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library.

“I am always writing something,” she says, and adds that she began taking acting classes – with the Bare Bones Theater Company in Northport – to help her with her public readings.

“Then I caught the acting bug,” she adds, having performed scenes from various plays at Bare Bones throughout the years.

She often reads from her first published book of poems, “Barking at Sunspots,” and “On Maxwell Street,” published in 2003. Her work has appeared in many print and online magazines, and she is the featured poet on “Northport Celebrates Jack,” a tribute to Jack Kerouac that features music by composer David Amram.

When she’s not working – when is that? – she likes relaxing in front of the fireplace with a good book, gardening, cooking and playing with her dog, Joey. And when she is working, she is often thinking of you.

“I hope you can find something in my work that resonates with your own sensibility.”

If you are an art or poetry lover, and admire artists who continually push at the boundaries, chances are you will.