During the first part of his life as an artist, David Keator was celebrated for unique ceramic work: traditional forms such as vessels and pots featuring details of great delicacy, but also furniture pieces. Dorothy Weil, writing in Cincinnati Magazine in June 1986 describes how Keator’s work at that time, “…brings out the elegant side of Art Deco. His tables are crafted of wood, marble, and porcelain, and have formal, classic, straight lines and pretty Deco blues and pinks. Humor and whimsy come out when Keator decides to throw in zigzag legs or create a table and vase in one.”
Keator worked in Louisville for many years, including a stint as Professor of Ceramics at the Louisville School of Art. Later he moved to Florida and, in his last years, turned to painting when arthritis made the intricacy of his ceramics work a challenge. In a statement from 2013, Keator talked about the change in medium: “Paint became my new fascination and ‘creative outlet.’ My paintings are non-representational. They are a search for the impression or expression of objects or subjects in a spontaneously responsive manner.”
Perhaps there is more of a relationship between the work with which Keator made his reputation and the work with he makes his last artistic statements. The sophisticated surface treatments on clay give way to a more abstract but no less sophisticated development of the painted canvas surface. Curvilinear figures and jewel-like geometric shapes echo the Deco qualities Weil refers to 30 years ago. The nature of the work may have changed over time, but the character of it remains consistent to Keator’s overall aesthetic.
A silent auction of David Keator’s paintings will be held at Headliner’s Music Hall in Louisville November 6 from 4:00-6:00pm. All proceeds will go to Louisville Visual Arts and the Louisville Fund for the Arts.
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.