Last night, two central Brooklyn artists unveiled their joint project ‘Paintings of Pictures’ to the Ditmas Park art world at the Farm on Adderley.
It was a lively event, with drinks and food from the Farm paired with gorgeous paintings and photos of Brooklyn streets captured through the eyes of a talented duo.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Kensington photographer Jonas Read in October, after his structural urban landscapes took our Facebook pages by storm. But we’re not the only ones who noticed.
Read’s photos also piqued the interest of Ditmas Park painter Heather Keton, who added her own textured, abstract flair in her ‘Paintings of Pictures’ series, where she zooms in and re-imagines different photos in Read’s collection.
Keton has been painting since childhood, but started her career in writing, bookmaking, and lithography after attending college in Chicago. But in 1999, she traded in her keyboard for paintbrushes and has been devoted to the craft ever since.
“It’s the language that I speak,” Keton said, when we asked her why she’s drawn to painting. “I stopped writing because it started to feel like anything I was saying wasn’t expressing what I was thinking. The only thing that was satisfying was painting.”
Ditmas Park makes a perfect playground for this artist, who has an adjascent-home studio in her garage.
The garage provides ventilation for Keton’s chosen medium — oil paints — and a perfect use of the treasured space (common to Ditmas homeowners) since she doesn’t own a car.
The ‘Paintings of Pictures’ series is a side project, a break from her usual repertoire of massive abstract paintings. But you can definitely see the influence of color, movement, and wild brush strokes in her interpretations of Read’s urban landscapes.
And influence is an inward experience for this artist. “If somebody draws another person long enough, it’ll start to look like themselves because that’s the face they know best,” she said.
Jonas and Keton met through a passion project called Scarlet Fox Letterpress, an artist salon that brings performances by poets, painters, dancers, fire eaters, and more to Brooklyn homes, rooftops, and sometimes even traditional venues. “The salon work that we do is intense. It’s a non-profit, so it’s not a paying job but I consider it my job,” said Keton, who also paints full-time.
Keton approached Jonas last year when she noticed that their color palates were remarkably similar.
They started with seven paintings, and then built demand around a Facebook page displaying the work. There are now 18 paintings and counting.
“I’m drawn to the composition, strong contrast, and wacky colors — like reflective neon on pavement,” Keton said. But there’s no set formula for which ones will inspire her. “[Jonas] will choose the ones he wants me to do, but then I’ll be like, ‘No, I don’t want to do that one!'” she chuckled.
Many kids showed up at last night’s show from Keton’s art classes and nursery school coop, where she teaches a popular self-portrait class.
Keton’s own kids, who are 7 and 9, were admiring their mom’s work.
“We wanted the show to be kid-oriented because I think kids are artists. I wish I was more like a kid in terms of making art,” said Keton.
Seeing the works side by side was moving for everyone, as one young viewer put it, “sometimes the painting feels more real than the photograph.”
The photographs and paintings are on sale (and moving fast) and can be purchased together or separately.
And while the photos can be re-printed, each painting is one of a kind — Keton isn’t making any doubles.
Check out more work in the ‘Paintings of Pictures’ collection here. And check out the stunning portfolios of each artist individually, Jonas Read and Heather Keton — and see for yourself where their styles overlap.
Though of course, nothing is as good as seeing the images in person. Stop by The Farm on Adderley at 1108 Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park to glimpse these beautiful painting & photo pairings before they’re all sold.