LEE KELLY - Winter Garden at Muktinath


June 1 - July 15, 2017

Lee Kelly is a revered sculptor and painter of the Pacific Northwest best known for his massive Cor-Ten and stainless steel sculptures. Winter Garden at Muktinath, a large freestanding stainless steel sculpture, anchors the exhibition and will be shown alongside hand-painted wall sculptures inspired by Kelly's travels. 

Muktinath is located in the Himalayas of Nepal, where Buddhists and Hindus believe the five sacred elements of fire, water, sky, earth and air are found together. Kelly’s artworks synthesize components of east and west, expanding upon the formal language of modernism and continually pursuing themes that are rooted in the ancient.

The hand-painted wall works included in the exhibition feature elaborate surface treatments of enamel, paint, and graphite adorned with gold and silver leafing. These medium-sized works invite the viewer to experience volume, mass and texture on an intimate scale and exemplify Kelly’s virtuosity across forms. Each one of Kelly's latest artworks convey a presence that feels both earthbound and transcendent.

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, PNCA) 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.