Overbrook Gallery Exhibit Reflects on Surreal, Recent History

Woman in Three-piece by Keith Downie

“Paintings from the Pandemic” is at MCC’s Overbrook Gallery until March 3

“Paintings from the Pandemic” runs January 23 through March 3

A new exhibit at the Overbrook Gallery, Paintings from the Pandemic, showcases mixed media paintings by local artist Keith Downie. The one-person exhibit will be highlighted during a 45 p.m. reception on Tuesday, February 28 and features a lecture by DownieThere is no cost to attend the reception or visit the gallery.   

“About a year before the arrival of COVID-19, I started work on a set of paintings that incorporated a ground of faux-painted wood planks with a casually chosen art object centered on those wood slats,” explains Downie.  “For whatever reason, the odd pairing of the grainy planks, painted in alternating colors, and the tightly rendered artifact floating on top made visual sense to me. The harsh directionality of the planks and the stasis of the hovering object produced an interesting formal tension.” 

Downie, who is recently retired as an adjunct art instructor at Muskegon Community College (MCC), has exhibited at a variety of galleries since 2003. Downie’s artist statement for the current exhibit describes how he began to affix real “art objects” to larger panels in an “intuitive, even random” manner.  “Sometimes it happens very quickly; other times the wood-slat ground stands against the studio wall for weeks or months before the right components appear.”  

Downie explains, “I will long associate the happenstance characteristic of these paintings with the chaotic and surreal quality of the COVID/Trump years in which they began.” 

“Paintings from the Pandemic” will remain installed in Overbrook Gallery through March 3. The gallery is located on the main campus of Muskegon Community College and is a component of MCC’s Arts and Humanities Department. Gallery hours are 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.  

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