Words and works of Contemporary Artist Keith M Ramsey

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Steampunk Photo Shoot @ the FOUNDPUNK Studio!

It was the most amazing and energetic event at the studio to date with around ten photographers from The Richmond Photography MU Group paying a visit to the Farm on a beautiful Saturday morning in August.

The event, including lights, cameras and at least one GoPro, started with Khalima Sikorskyand Gene Domingo asking to do a Steampunk themed photo shoot using my space. I was honored I was the one they asked (because I knew I had the goods to pull it off!)

This event has made me feel an overwhelming sense of pride because of the strikingly beautiful imagery that has been produced by an incredible group of professional photographers and an awesome bunch of people to work with.

As far as the work, it has been designed and created under the personal code and ethic of being honest in the work, these photos present FOUNDPUNK beyond what I could have ever dreamed. Although, there was the staging of the backgrounds for the shoot, I love that this is my place in the world where I create.

Thank you so much Khalima and Gene for bringing that energy on a beautiful Saturday in August and making it happen. You guys are always welcome at the farm.

View more photos from the shoot on the FOUNDPUNK Facebook page…
And, oh yeah, “LIKE” the page!
Thanx for viewing….
k!
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#48 PULLEY CIGAR BOX HOLDER

After toying with this piece for a few weeks and not being able to finish it because I couldn’t weld it together, I was finally able to complete it. Using an antique pulley, a cigar box, piping and other random items, it has become a visually interesting and very well balanced table top holder.

Mapping out the design, although I wasn’t sure it would balance.

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…was going to add another wheel for weight, but it became too visually busy, I didn’t like it so it had to be toned down.

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…no second wheel, but adding a second vertical element to stabilize it might have worked, but it was still too complex and ended up taking away from the over-all design.

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…I liked the vintage look and color of the cigar box, but didn’t really like the quality of the wood.

 

 

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…the parts prepped and ready to weld.

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…two identical cigar boxes. The light color box is the original look, the darker box was burned with a MAP torch to get the color/texture I wanted.

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…ready for final assembly.

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…the completed piece.

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Thanx for viewing.
k!


FOUNDPUNK! on FACEBOOK!

To see the latest works to come out of the studio, check out progress photos of projects and
get info on shows and sales, feel free to check out the FOUNDPUNK page on FACEBOOK!

https://www.facebook.com/artistkeithmramsey/timeline

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Thanx for viewing…
RAMSEY


FOUNDPUNK @ ARTWORKS RICHMOND, VA

In a time filled with digital technology and cyber-based relationships, I aspire to create art that reintroduces people to an alternative world of modernity called FoundPunk.

FoundPunk is an art form influenced by Steampunk, for which it embodies an era when inventions were designed and created by the human hand. It transforms mundane elements and random unrelated parts into aesthetically designed, practical works of art.

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FoundPunk employs a collision of various antique pieces repurposed into new objects fashioned with the Victorian and Industrial age aesthetics. These pieces are salvaged from various places ranging from auto junkyards to antique shops. Rusty weather-beaten metals, venerable glassware, worn vintage woods and burlap coffee sacks are collected and reconstructed into art. Excluding synthetic materials or mass production practices from the creative process is essential to maintaining the authenticity of each work of art.

In the beginning, this series was heavily influenced by the Steampunk art movement because of its courageous spirit to draw from imagination and literature to create tangible art. But eventually my artwork shifted slightly away from Steampunk. While Steampunk aesthetics remains, the works became less focused on the core elements that define the movement. The use of materials became more thoughtful in application. If something failed to make visual or practical sense, it wouldn’t be completed. The finished work was never forced to fit within the Steampunk art movement. Instead, I allowed the creative process to become fluid. As I began sanding or disassembling a piece, its texture, design and detail dictates the formation of the artwork.

This process became FoundPunk.

FoundPunk is based on a personal rebellion against today’s consumer-driven culture and brings awareness to how mass production stifles an individual’s creative spirit. It feeds the need to unplug from technology and persuades the viewer to become less digital and more physical. It is celebrates the inventor in all of us by encouraging re-imagination of the style and use of objects.

RAMSEY

 


Bullsh*t…and other observations.

I have to admit. I’ve gotten out of the habit of taking in art shows at any of the local galleries in Richmond. It’s not a commentary on the galleries, it’s just one of those things that don’t cross my mind…until it does.

When I see something that really sparks an interest and has the potential to inspire me within the work that I do, I jump at the chance to go see it.

So last week while searching the First Friday Art Walk (RVA) website I saw an exhibit that made me curious. While reading a description of a show boasting phrases like “….tests the structural limits of materials….” and “…engaging entropic forces such as tension and corrosion…” I was hooked. My first thought was “…whatever I’m doing on Saturday, it’s going to include a trip downtown to see this art!”

On some sub-intellectual level, I understood the artist’s vision working with rusting, worn and dented material. It was as if the artist (I’ll refer to him as “JeWil”) was inviting me to see how found object style of work and material is being accepted in gallery system that seems somewhat closed to me.

To my surprise…no, that’s not the word.

Dissatisfaction.

That’s the word.

…I walked into the gallery with my mind and my eyes wide open to experiencing “….conventional understandings of where art begins and ends.” I mentioned to the gallery member behind the counter that the show seemed “anemic.”

The “art,” being sparsely placed around the huge white-walled interior of the gallery with a massive piece of steel and wood straddling the entrance to the main space, was underwhelming to put it mildly.

The first piece the viewer encountered was impressive in size, but in the same vain, it was just as impressive as the construction project I pass going to work on a daily basis. Chalk writing on the side of the steel beams looked as though it was written by the steel yard that reserved the materials for the artist’s project.

I realize it, because I recognize similar chalk writing on the steel I-beams used to construct the hotel being built by my job.

While critiquing each piece on view as I walked through the gallery, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that some artist get away with persuading gallery owners and the academic crowd with fanciful phrases and long rambling sentences that seem to convince the viewer, as well as themselves, of how the creative process is abstract and simple but the meaning is oh, so complex.

An artist can pile a vast amount of thrift-store bought t-shirts to create some deep or elusive meaning and the viewer may accept the meaning as it is told to them. But, they shouldn’t be surprised if someone calls bullsh*t when they notice that the mound of t-shirts that is so pivotal to the meaning of your work is only a shirt or two deep and the rest is wooden construction.

If you’re going to do it, do it all the way or f*ck off!

As for the show by “JeWil,” the fact that one of the only few colors that he chose to include in his work was the industry standard yellow color for the canister of MAP gas. The blue of the almost new motor being used to spin a piece of marble statue on a chrome shaft, seemed less a creative color choice and more that the artist had not tried to make the work have a harmony. Deciding to phone it in and come up with an excuse, or concept, for why the parts of the work look store bought.

The one piece I did enjoy was a huge, heavy metal table that was bent, jagged and rusty. It was the only work that made the effort to fulfill the expectations I had when walking into the gallery, that is until I found out the gallery was responsible for applying peroxide to make it rust.

To that, I said that the gallery members were now collaborators on that piece.

And that is what pushed me to compose the observation you are currently reading.

Concepts vs. Passion

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conceptual art— noun:
Art in which the idea behind a particular work, and the means of producing it, are more important than the finished work.  _(Collins) World English Dictionary

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From about the 1960’s, conceptual art was viewed as anti-establishment art, through its use of unconventional materials and aesthetics that challenged the notion of traditionally accepted forms of art, like painting, sculpture or photography.

But, these days it seems the moniker of “conceptual” is used as an excuse to not completely execute their art.

I’ve seen my share of pieces of paper thumb-tacked onto a wall of a gallery, unframed and unprofessionally hung.

Contemporary conceptual art, please “finish your f*ckin’ thought” before exhibiting it in front of the viewing public in galleries and museums.

Your work shouldn’t carry its merits by a translation on paper, the merits of its importance should be in its execution. Conceptual art is a sketch to an idea played out in the environment of a gallery or museum. It’s equal to a writer handing someone  scribbles on a piece of paper and saying to the reader verbally “…well, this is what I meant to say,” then proceeding to explain the thought that should have been written down in the first place.

If you’re not there to explain it, then don’t get upset when the audience can’t understand it.

Some people look at artists who criticize the academic art establishment and the gallery system as “angry and jealous failures” seemingly in defense of artists that play politics, did a stint at a grad school ending with a MFA or got lucky enough to be connected with the right people at the right time.

Time to end the piety about names, titles and political connections with institutions and it’s about time to start calling “bullsh*t.”

It’s true, art is subjective, but it seems like the acceptability of conceptual art is becoming more about how elaborate the written statement of the piece can be and less about the actual execution, the process or the willingness to communicate with the viewer, creating a work that is narcissistic in its existence.

While working in the studio, artist constantly push themselves to create work that communicate not only with the viewer, but with themselves as well. Creating and destroying elements within the art in order to produce a better, insightful and more honest work is what the artist owes to the people who choose to stop and have a conversation with the work.

Having a passion in the art can be understood through the completed piece and doesn’t rely on a lots of big and small words, rambling sentences and literary dreamscapes of what the artist meant to say.

The viewing public deserves honesty and not lofty bullsh*t that takes their time and intelligence for granted.

I’ll continue to work with integrity and honesty with every piece I attempt.
Because, art is a record of my life on view…and what a life it is.

Thanx for viewing.
k!


What’s the “what’s next” for 2014!

“Avoid the reeking herd! Shun the polluted flock! Live like that stoic bird, the eagle of the rock!”
_Elinor Hoyt Wyliestudio

With the new year comes a somewhat deep level soul searching, self-questioning and a lot of experimentation and hard work.

Last year was decidedly a transitional year, with the passing of my mom (Joyce Holmes Ramsey), my long time relationship becoming a long distance relationship, the completion of the studio at the “farm” and the, all important, evolution of the artwork.

Ahhh…the evolution of the artwork.

The artwork being created in the studio/workshop has become a practice in balancing between the aesthetic line that transverses steampunk and industrial, both of which are equally strong, meaningful and practical in its essence.
Seamlessly incorporating into the home environment as a piece of art that can be used
without much thought and appreciated for its unique visual statement.

The goal when all of this interest in steampunk started in 2011 was to find a voice in the work and a consistency of style and quality. I knew it would take a while for an aesthetic principle to form and become the normal approach to the art.

It has become the norm to look for materials that are worn, dirty and dented. Finding parts that work together to create a fascinating shape or form. Constantly searching for antiques that can reclaim its usefulness as something other than what the original purpose would have been. And, most of all, make work as interesting as possible without forcing it to be interesting.

The transitional year of 2013 is over, never to be forgotten, and understood
as the year things were bound to change.

This year will be a banner year for the creative spirit, the artwork and the artist. Time to explore and be seen. To venture unto paths that have never been traveled. It will be exciting, terrifying and wonderfully rewarding.

And I will try to be there every step of the way.

Thanx for viewing.
RAMSEY


In the GRID as a Renaissance Man

A few months ago I said openly, and assuredly, that one of my goals was to be in one of Richmond’s most notable social and cultural magazines.

To be truthful, I was somewhat in awe of the people that were featured in these publications. They seem to be the talented, the professional, the successful and, lets face it, there’s something cool about having your photo and story in a magazine for everyone in town to read. Unless its about a drug arrest, political corruption or holding up a convenience store.DSC_3191

The only drug I’m into is Alkaseltzer Cold Plus when I’m sick, I’m not an a**hole politician and I don’t spend time casing 7-elevens while driving around Richmond.

I didn’t expect for the universe to hear me talk to myself out loud and decide to give me a shot. But, It seems the “Year of Transition” has transformed my artistic ambitions into a very true reality.

The latest edition of GRID magazine came out in the last week and as I was enjoying an evening at my favorite coffee shop with my best friend and my god-daughter, I proceeded to thumb thru the pages. I had gotten hints from people that I was going to be in it for the “Pipe Dream #4″ Mural. (see the post below this one) I was stunned to turn to page #28 and see the photo of me in full-art mode on a scissor lift included in a full page article!

Written by fellow Southsider Richard Hayes of hillsandheights.org the article is titled “Southside Renaissance Man: A Mash-up Of Talent”. This is the first time I’ve been referred too as an “Renaissance Man” in a print magazine… Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve been called anything in a print magazine.

Although, there was a mistake made by giving me credit for the Crossroads Coffee truck (that was done by my friend and fellow artist Ted Sandersen), everything else offered a good insight of who I am and what I do as an artist. It was a huge pleasure to read.

Not only was the focus on the mural, Richard also pointed out the dancing I enjoy doing and, most importantly, the fact that I’m a serious steampunk artist!

The steampunk art inclusion is important because that has become the majority of what I’m creating in the studio.

My dad has always said “you don’t really know what kind of person you are until other people tell you.” This is one hell-of-a-way to find out what people think about me as an artist and a person.

I don’t know what 2014 is going to hold for me and my art, but if these past few months are any indication, sh*t is about to get big n 2014.

And if its going to be big, I’m sure its going to be covered in hard work, found objects and a good amount of paint!

RAMSEY in GRID Magazine

Thanx for viewing.
k!


Hitting the Big Time with a “Pipe Dream”.

Before last week the focus in the studio was on the two Danish Lounge Chairs purchased with the purpose of adding some steampunk style to them. The other thought that floated through my mind was if producing a painting would be possible this month.

Little did I know…

When I got the text from Ham? (Hamilton Glass) seeing if I wanted to participate in painting a mural at the RVA Street Art Festival.

I hesitated.

The thought of creating a painting on such a scale shocked me, plus, I thought I was going to participate by helping Ham(?) with his mural so to my surprise when I showed up he immediately took me Ed Trask. We discussed the location for the work and if one of the out of town muralist weren’t to show up, maybe I’ll be able to take it.

So on Wednesday, I took it.

“Before the storm..”

The two bay doors are made of 3 different materials, two of which worked well with the paint, the material (white) at the top was covered in soot from the buses and the paint rode on top of it instead of soaking into it, making blending color more difficult.

As far as the imagery, as soon as I got the “go ahead” I knew it would be the same imagery hanging in my yard and on the guitar case on display at Art180. It was time to make its presence known in its biggest way yet.

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“Changing times…”
After baking with the sun on Wednesday I thought it would be a good idea to beat the heat by getting out there early…real early. 4:30 am early.

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After working 9 hours, part of it in the blazing sun, it was time to cool down for a couple of hours. What I didn’t know was later that evening, a storm would keep me from coming back out to work @ 7 pm. So I took the opportunity to catch some more sleep and try again on Friday morning at 8:00 am.

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“Too cold & too tired…”
Saturday, getting up at 4:30 am, and not ready for the cold, I only lasted till 6am then went back home for some more sleep and some warmer clothes.

Obtaining a lift, thanks to Matt Lively, and now able to reach the top of the mural,
work began at 8 am ending at 6:30 pm.

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“The Big finish… A long way to go and a short time to get there.”

Back at it Sunday at 6 am to finish the largest piece of art I’ve ever created.

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“Reaching the goal…”

At just before 6 pm I signed “Pipe Dream #4″, completing the largest painting I’ve ever created (measuring approx 16ft high by 34ft long) and in the shortest amount of time I’ve ever had to complete a work.

I was tired and exhilarated because of the opportunity, the experiences and the support from fellow artist and the viewing public. Thanx to Ham(?) for the vote of confidence,  Ed for being willing to give me a shot, Matt for hooking me up with the lift when I needed it, Sir James Thornhill for throwing my stuff in the garage before the storm hit.

And a big thanx to Erin, Jessica and Mike at PUNCH for understanding how important this was and allowing me to take off from work to get it done.

You guys are the best!

What’s next?

I don’t know, but whatever it is, its only going to go up from here.
The studio is active, the work is flowing and a creative life is really, really good.

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Thanx for viewing.

k!


In Good Company…

This month a project I was honored to participate in, opened in Jackson Ward in downtown Richmond, VA (the RVA) and I was in good company showing with some of RVA’s most notable artist. Artist like RVA’s mural powerhouse Ed Trask, Skull-a-Day artist and publisher Noah Scalin and widely recognized abstract artist Heide Trepanier, had work on display as well as a number of other artist, filling the gallery with energy and life. Along with the adult artist there were works by “young people” that made for a great showing on opening night. 

I was proud when I was asked to participate, but me being as a.d.d. as I can be sometimes I kept forgetting to pick up the guitar case lid. Luckily, one of the directors came to my job for a meeting and left the lid at my desk. Image

Above is the imagery I drew inspiration from which I had begun working on earlier this summer and I thought it  would be perfect for this project because of the bold contrast between the monochromatic images of machinery and the colorful organic shapes it seemingly produced.

Although I had no immediate purpose for this imagery to become more than a combination of different styles of abstract art, when asked for an artist statement, my natural inclination was to be (f*#kin’) political…although I really tried to stray away from it, but because most of my art gravitates that direction, why would I think this would be any different?

So the statement became:

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“Imagine if our most influential industries found ways to make profit by helping the environment instead of harming it.”

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The guitar case will be a benchmark moment in which I can say my style has shifted and, from the comments on the piece from those that were there, it is a positive new exploration in the elements I’m beginning to use. 

And with the new studio in full operation, there is more and more exploring to do!

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Thanx for viewing…
k!


Aside

Steampunk Found Object Furniture!

Recently I’ve been thumbing through the latest Restoration Hardware catalog, getting inspiration for new work. In the vain of the latest body of work (making art that has a practical use), I decided to see what I can do on a larger scale.

This is the latest and largest piece to be created in the new studio. Built from an antique 1946 PHILCO 46-1203 Radio Cabinet purchased in the 90’s, a junked table base found behind a laundry mat and vintage sheet music from the Benny Goodman Orch. and Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, this is the first of many furniture pieces I hope to build! Stay tuned!

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Thanx for viewing…
k!


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