November 14, 2011, is the twentieth anniversary of artist Adrian Kellard’s death. This significant date, along with the 30-year anniversary of the identification of HIV as the virus that causes AIDS, was in our consciousness as we planned the exhibition Adrian Kellard: The Learned Art of Compassion.
One way to mark an anniversary is to share memories and stories of the deceased. Recently MOCRA’s Director, Terrence Dempsey, S.J., was joined by Kellard’s dear friend Regina DeLuise and his gallery dealer, Susan Schreiber, to look back at the artist’s life and legacy. All three knew him well, and the ensuing conversation elicited stories both humorous and poignant. This conversation was recorded and is available to the public through the MOCRA Voices podcast. You can stream or download the audio from the MOCRA website, or if you like, subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.
However, in a sense Kellard’s story continues to unfold as new audiences discover his work through the MOCRA exhibition. One of Kellard’s sisters attended the opening in September and brought with her a small journal that served as the guest book for the last exhibition prior to his death, in October 1991. She asked if we might make the book available to our visitors as well.
Glancing through the book, I’m struck by one of the last entries from 1991, written by Jed Devine, who organized that exhibition:
Thank you for the most powerful and beautiful show we have had in this space. You are magnificent.
It is followed on the next page by the first entry from 2011:
This is truly one of the best exhibits MOCRA has done. … Truly REMARKABLE!!!
His work seems to elicit comments from deep places in many visitors. Here are a few excerpts from the past month-and-a-half:
Thank you for loaning me your eyes through your art — you have refreshed me and renewed my faith and spirituality. Your death has been transformed into gift that allows me to draw close and be instructed by your heart.
Wonderfully evocative and sensually intelligent reflections of faith and identity. The dimensions of shape and use of color really make my heart sing and inspire deep reflections.
The works of God have been made manifest in you, Adrian. Thank you for opening your life and faith to the world through such compassion, beauty, and truth.
We invite you to come and see the exhibition, and if you are so moved, to add your own words to this small testament to the impact of one artist whose work is a manifestation of a life lived with remarkable integrity, focus, creativity, and compassion. In the words of another visitor:
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
–David Brinker, Assistant Director