Figures: Public/Private (Exhibition Closing Statement)

I would like to thank everyone for joining us this afternoon for the closing of Patrice’s and Keith’s show, Figures: Public/Private. I’d like to especially thank both Patrice and David for having allowed Keith the opportunity to share some of his recent work with all of us and with the students here.

I wish now to say a few words about Keith. First off, I believe what we see before us today is a powerful integration of my brother’s work and that of another artist. I believe both the public and the private are equally represented and invoked here.

I think Keith would have been both secretly pleased and slightly embarrassed by such a crowd tonight. He was never really comfortable with being the guest of honor, or sharing that privilege with another. Believe me, I know: we shared many birthdays together.

For those of you who over the years did generously extend to Keith the comfort (and support) of lasting friendship, I am forever in your debt.

I now know that the death of a close one changes a person fundamentally and I can say (with an absolute honesty I have never known before) that I have lost the single most important person in my entire life. When I think of Keith now what seems most amazing about him was his ability to endure indifference and the falseness of certain dubious friendships by always emerging a better, more generous, more forgiving and more loving of an individual. This, I believe, was the prime quality that was my brother. In my mind, this quality, coupled with Keith’s determination to always remain a painter, is what defines him as a person.

Back in May of 1989, right after his MFA thesis show closed, Keith received a kind letter from Ron Williams, a professor of Philosophy at CSU. I wish to quote briefly from this letter because I believe that even back then Ron had already recognized what was always vital (and potent) in Keith’s work. Ron wrote, “You’ve succeeded very well in this ambitious task of exploring our bewitched perception by bringing together form, figure, inner and outer experience, and approaches as diverse as Buddhist poetry and Marcuse. It’s something of a miracle that all that emerges so beautifully counterpoised and integrated on your canvases. You seem to me to have comparatively rare ability to be at home in both the world of ideas and the realm of color and form.”

As I now look about the room at the paintings hanging here, I see no reason to doubt such an appraisal. I can’t think of any possession (or keepsake) that brings me a greater sense of pride—besides the work itself—than the knowledge that Keith’s commitment to his profession as painter remained constant throughout his life. More than once my brother did say to me (and many of you also heard this, I’m sure) but he’d say with justifiable pride: “You know, bro, at least I’m still painting. At least I can say THAT!”

What is the most courageous of artistic acts? I’d argue it is an artist’s willingness to continue to make art even when the world remains mostly insipidly indifferent. And to continue to do so with such spirit and determination, as did Keith, despite so many heartbreaks and disappointments over the years, defines the very essence that was—and will always be in my mind—my brother.

I thank you all for sharing this brief moment of tribute with me.

February 29, 2008
Kevin Foskin

Closing Reception
The Peter L Youngers Fine Arts Gallery
Northeastern Junior College
Sterling, Colorado 80751

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