One of the Northwest’s most influential artists, Lee Kelly is well-known for his Cor-Ten and stainless steel sculptures, however he began his artistic life as a painter. His modernist sculpture, drawings, paintings and collage often reflect aesthetic influences from the artist's extensive travels. In Observatory at Jaipur, Kelly took inspiration from a 2003 trip to Jaipur, India.
While in Jaipur, Kelly was profoundly effected by fourteen immense astronomical instruments (the largest of which is 90 feet tall) built in the early 18th century. These fixed observational sighting devices were built as one of five observatories to measure the position of the sun, stars and planets. Inspired by the curved and angular forms of these instruments, Kelly created a series of collages after returning to his studio in Oregon City. Having never exhibited these works, Kelly revisited this imagery in 2015, creating new collages, one painting and two wall sculptures to complete the series and exhibition.
Born in 1932 in McCall, Idaho, Lee Kelly graduated from the Museum Art School at the Portland Art Museum (now known as the Pacific Northwest College of Art) in 1959. Kelly’s long and prestigious career and prolific nature have resulted in a significant body of work which can be seen in public and private collections throughout the country, including the Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA), New Orleans Art Museum (New Orleans, LA), Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA), and the City of Sapporo, Japan. As 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. In 2012, one of his most significant works, Memory 99, was installed in Portland’s North Park Blocks, at the new home of PNCA. Kelly has been exhibiting at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery since the early 1980s. In 2010, he was the subject of a major career retrospective at the Portland Art Museum. This exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue.