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Cheryl Kelley
Cheryl Kelley, 1968 Camero, 2004
Cheryl Kelley, 1968 Camero, 2004, 84 1/2 x 30 inches, oil on canvas

1971 AMC Hornet, 1968 Chevy Camaro, 1970 Chevrolet Nova. As a child growing up in the 70's, just a mention of these high performance vehicles brings up the memory of many intense formative experiences for me. Other iconic appelations of the time; GTO, Stingray, Barracuda, Chevelle, Shelby Cobra, leave a lasting impression of the  legacy that is the American muscle car dream.

Born at the end of the 60's, I was fortunate to enter the world during the formative years of the American Feminist movement. However, as I grew into my love of the monster machines of the 60's and 70's, so did my awareness that the muscle car was the last bastion of young male dominance. These big engine cars, although seemingly fueled by raw testosterone, were most definitely feminine in form making them the ideal woman for the American teenaged boy. She is fast, flashy, loud and ready to ride. As a teenager, my boyfriends would occasionally permit me to drive their prized possessions, but I was always reminded that these machines were not "girl" cars. This was like a secret society that you needed to have a cock and a bad ass attitude to get into. Being left out, I am now ready to claim equality, on my own terms, in the realm of the American Muscle Car.

In my particular approach to creating art from this subject, there is an element of Pop Art influence that cannot be denied. Mel Ramos, Peter Phillips and James Rosenquist are several that are alluded to, but my intent and approach to the subject sets this work apart from the traditional Pop genre. As the Pop artist was concerned with bringing mundane objects into sharp focus, making us see these familiar objects and subjects extracted from everyday life as high art; I intend to utilize this icon of 20th century speed and power, and preserve that unique moment in time through painting the feeling of motion and energy that light reflected off the curves of the cars body surfaces produces. The use of oil on canvas allows me to bring out the sensuous contour of the auto body, rather than trying to duplicate it's actual surface texture and appearance.

Instead of a photo realistic approach, which would have a colder, more detached feeling as in the work of Ralph Goings or Richard Estes, I have kept the brush strokes in a somewhat more flowing manner to elicit a feeling of motion and speed.  The powerful colors of the paintings triggers an emotional response similar to that of being behind the wheel of one of these awesome vehicles.

The scale of the work alludes to the memory of the sound of the big 8 cylinder engine. These paintings are about first loves. . . a lifelong love of painting coupled with the collective memory and admiration of the American Muscle Car.

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