Local artist's work is 'Something to Celebrate'

Fred McCormick

Sometimes Cheryl Keefer takes an easel outside and paints what she sees. Other times the Black Mountain artist works in her space in NorthLight Studio in Asheville's River Arts Districts creating city scenes and urban landscapes.

On Friday, July 7 the award-winning artist can be found at the Asheville Gallery of Art, where her paintings will be featured through the end of the month.

Cheryl Keefer paints in her studio in the River Arts District in Asheville.

"Something to Celebrate," is the name of the show featuring Keefer's work, which opened at the gallery on July 1. A reception to meet the artist will take place from 5:30-8 p.m. July 7.

"Growing up in Alabama I lived out in the country," she said. "On special occasions our parents would take us out to eat in Birmingham, and I was just mesmerized by all the lights and signs. And if it was raining it was even more amazing."

Cheryl Keefer's paintings, like this one of Paris painted from memory, will be on display at the Asheville Gallery of Art through the month of July.

Keefer's plein air painting - a method that takes artists outdoors to paint a subject live - has produced works like "The Monte Vista," which captures the iconic Black Mountain hotel in the changing light and color of the day. It's one of countless pieces she's done in that style since she began painting landscapes on her grandfather's farm as a teenager.

"I remember going out there and painting cows with my watercolors as a young girl," she said. "The first time I did that I just went into the pasture and the cows were several hundred feet away. By the time I set up the cows were all around me."

Since then Keefer has gotten used to being watched while she interprets images in front of her through her art. She moved to Black Mountain a decade ago with her husband Dick after retiring from a career in teaching.

"When we moved here the mountains were so arresting to me," she said. "They provided so much information to paint, and I would go down to Lake Tomahawk and paint. I'd go to Montreat and paint. I'd go up on the (Blue Ridge Parkway) and paint."

Keefer's art started piling up, and she approached the Black Mountain Center for the Arts.

"They said well, we're two years out, but you can fill out an application," she recalls. "They finally called and said 'are you ready for a show?'"

The show wasn't Keefer's first, but it was a proud moment in her art career.

Recently, she has began spending more of her time working in her studio creating impressionist works that draw on city lights for inspiration.

"I started painting street scenes and they were sunny street scenes," she said. "Then I realized if I made them rainy I could paint people with umbrellas and create reflections from the lights."

A mix of landscapes and city scenes from Keefer are what people can expect to see at the Asheville Gallery of Art.

"I'll have around 20 paintings displayed in the gallery as the featured artist," she said. "There will be a few landscapes, but most of them are cityscapes. Some are Asheville scenes, some are other places and some are just generic."