The Elizabeth Leach Gallery is pleased to present Doubtful Sound, an exhibition celebrating 50 years of work
by Northwest artist, Lee Kelly.
Primarily known for his large-scale sculpture in stainless and cor-ten steel, the exhibition Doubtful Sound, will
feature Lee Kelly’s paintings from the 1950’s and 1960’s, many which have not been seen since that time.
Kelly’s paintings from the 50’s and 60’s are created in a strong abstract expressionist style, with distinct
forms emerging from the passionate and colorful application of paint. When Kelly switched his emphasis to
sculpture in the early 60’s the resulting three-dimensional work demonstrates a definite relationship to his
paintings from that same period. The sculptures are powerful and organic, much like the paintings. Some
display an application of paint on their surface demonstrating the connection between Kelly’s two-
dimensional and three-dimensional work during these formative years.
The exhibition, Doubtful Sound, includes early paintings and sculpture, as well as current stainless and
painted steel wall relief sculpture, inspired by Kelly’s most recent trip to New Zealand. It is interesting to see
how this most recent work echoes some of the organic forms of the early work. In fact the title of Kelly’s
exhibition, Doubtful Sound, reflects this idea of an echo.
Lee Kelly is one of the most recognized artists in the Northwest. His modernist sculptures are a central focus
at regional institutions such as Reed College, Marylhurst University, Oregon State University, Catlin Gabel
School, the Oregon Health and Sciences University, and the Washington Park Rose Garden.
Born in 1932 in McCall, Idaho, Lee Kelly began his artistic life as a painter. A graduate of Roosevelt High
School in Portland, Kelly studied architecture at what is now Portland State University before joining the Air
Force Reserves and working as a draftsperson during the Korean War. After four and half years in service,
Kelly returned to Portland and enrolled in the Museum Art School at the Portland Art Museum, which later
became the Pacific Northwest College of Art.