Memphis kayaker and artist, Martha Kelly, has taken her easel to the riverfront to capture the beauty at our front door.
I grew up in Memphis but spent very little time at the river until the last few years, when I took up kayaking. Being out on the river regularly has opened up a whole new world to me. The sky is vast, there is wilderness within easy reach of downtown, and, as with other landscapes, the change of the seasons is fascinating and never ending. So last fall I started going downtown with my easel, painting from the Greenbelt Park on Mud Island, Tom Lee Park, and various places along the riverwalk. I take pastels with me and do studies that form the basis of oil paintings back in the studio.
My previous work has often been of our local landscape around Memphis, showing the beauty of the parks and of greenbelt land that has not yet been paved over for strip malls. I have always hoped my work would make people look again at our land and inspire them to preserve that beauty for future generations. In the same way, I see my river pieces as a reminder to Memphians of the amazing natural resource we have right at the heart of our city. I hope these paintings will make people want to go downtown, take a walk, watch a sunset, and perhaps even work to make our riverfront a better, cleaner, more accessible place.
An exhibition of her “Riverscapes” will run Aug. 17 – Oct. 4 at Christian Brothers University in the foyer of Ross Gallery (lower level of Plough Library). The opening reception is F, Aug. 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.