Artwork by local artist Michael O’Keefe is now on display at Shawn’s Gate Gallery in Medina.
According to Shawn’s Gate owner Barbara Gray, O’Keefe’s work is so bright and colorful, it’s almost playful.
“He sketches out real people and real events, and then uses brights and primary colors to bring them alive,” she said. “I am excited to show Mike’s work here.”
O’Keefe’s father, Don, made a living as a professional graphics art director for Channel 13 in Rochester, and O’Keefe used to take an interest in art when he would help his father color-in the art used in the advertising and television commercials.
He took several art classes in high school but took even more interest in art while stationed overseas in the Army, where he found the countryside and folklore to be the main source of his inspiration.
O’Keefe’s style began to develop more when he was able to spend more time on it during his college years, and as his family grew from one to four children, he took advantage of the opportunities to draw and paint his children and wife.
Most of the paintings covering the first 20 years of his adulthood were oil on canvas. O’Keefe’s earlier paintings have darker tones, mostly depicting family life. Within the past decade, he put away the darker colors and took a more Fauvist approach to his paintings, which became more colorful, wild and expressive.
After more than 20 years, O’Keefe held his first solo show at his office, inviting many of his friends and co-workers. With new energy, he soon became engaged in creating new pieces of artwork in a different way.
With the support of many new artist friends and admirers, he was able to focus on a new medium for his creativity, wherein he would draw his subjects, as before, but would then paint them on the computer. His transition belatedly followed his father’s movement into the computer realm.