Repurposing his life and the objects around him
Artist David Kellner has begun his second act in life as an emerging artist and so far it’s going well.
You know the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Artist David Kellner lives by the philosophy. He drives by curbs in search of abandoned treasures and uses them to create art.
He also has a way with a welding torch.
Despite his knack for creating sculpture from junk, he doesn’t consider himself an artist yet. He modestly stipulated to us that he’s still learning.
“I have recently applied for the FAFO Emerging Artists Program and have been accepted, so this is a check off the bucket list,” Kellner shared.
The FAFO to which he refers is the Fine Arts For Ocala organization, which was started in 1966. FAFO hosts an annual fine arts festival and supports art education through scholarships and community programs.
For the past couple of years, Kellner, 48, has created mixed media sculptures that have appeared in local galleries. His works have already attracted the admiring gaze of Ocala art-scene luminaries.
Maggie Weakley, who is herself an artist and FAFO’s administrative coordinator, described his metal/acrylic pour sculpture “Summer Breeze,” currently on display at the NOMA Gallery in Ocala, as “pure happiness” in a Facebook post.
With “a bloodline that runs from New York to Florida,” the emerging artist said he is a native of the Sunshine State, born in Citrus County to a family based in Holder, “just a smidge west of Stumpknockers on the River.”
Kellner, who is a member of the Marion Cultural Alliance, spent most of his upbringing in Colorado.
“My family moved a lot, but my growing up years were mostly spent in Lafayette, Colorado. I attended high school and college in Colorado,” he said.
Kellner earned a business management degree from Regis University and an agricultural business degree at Northeastern University. Currently, he manages the TJ Maxx in Gainesville; that is, when he isn’t creating keepsakes with acrylics, metalwork and found objects.
“My family were builders,” he said, adding that they constructed homes in Beverly Hills and Quail Run before they retired.
That drummed-in work ethic and dexterity, coupled with inspiration from a family patriarch, inspired him artistically.
Kellner’s great-grandfather, John Epherin Jeanson, graduated from Cooper Union in New York and designed patches for NASA. He also painted a watercolor portrait of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, that, according to Kellner, hung in the White House.
“I could go on for days about him, and I feel blessed having such a family who has put a stamp on the community, which I strive to do myself through art and helping others,” Kellner offered.
Kellner’s works, so far, have been exhibited at NOMA Gallery and the MCA’s Brick City Center for the Arts. They reflect geographical iconography and other personal elements.
In one metal sculpture, Kellner combines a horseshoe and magnolia with the Celtic cross he created for the exhibition, “Broken Flame: The Celts,” at NOMA earlier this year.
“I feel so honored to be a part of both MCA and NOMA. They have such talented artists to learn from and help me grow,” he said.
“There is so much talent around me, what makes me feel great is when my fellow artist friends love the work I do also. We learn from each other,” he added.
Kellner admits that he has no formal training with welding.
“Just a lot of on-hand learning through my years working on a farm,” he said.
He started his art “adventure” by way of a dare from a friend.
“She said that she would like a metal piece in an art show in Micanopy eight years ago. I said I could do that, but she didn’t think so. Ever since then I try my best to make my ideas come to life and try and accomplish whatever is a challenge or just want to create,” he explained.
What excites Kellner when he creates?
“My biggest excitement is taking found objects, trashed items, or just plain ideas I have and making them into something that people can love,” he offered. “It seems like I never catch up with my dreamed-up ideas or re-created ideas, which I fell keeps me going in this direction, toward what people call ‘an artist.’”