Contemporary artists Scott Kelley and Walton Ford have much in common. Scott Kelley was born in 1960, Walton Ford in 1963. Kelley was born in Binghamton, New York, Ford was born in Larchmont, New York. They both had traditional art educations, Kelley at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and at Cooper Union in New York, Ford at the Rhode Island School of Design.
They were both influenced by German painter, Albrecht Durer:
Back in New York, I begin thinking about my influences, and trying to sort out how to best work through them. Albrecht Durer, with whom I have had a lifelong fascination with, used to have terrible nightmares, and wrote letters describing them, including one about a rain of blood. I had the best of both worlds with a series of paintings based upon those letters, making what appeared to be abstractions out of actual documents. – Scott Kelley
And my general mode of working is that I deal with how animals live in the human imagination, the kind of cultural history of animals, and as you know, the stuff I draw really heavily on is from 19th-century traditions of Natural History art, and earlier as well. I mean, it all starts with Dürer’s Young Hare in 1502, this sort of humanist tradition of looking very carefully at whatever is put in front of me by nature—so I look through the cultural lens and say, “Ok, well, what was the world that Dürer’s rabbit lived in?” I make that front and center—it takes over like a computer virus in my work, and it becomes the thing that the painting is about. So it looks initially like a work of traditional Natural History art. It looks like an exhibition of watercolor from the Victorian era, but in reality it is a sort of hypnagogic comment on our relationship with the natural world. – Walton Ford
Both artists are concerned with the protection and preservation of the natural world. Where they differ is in the way they present that world in their paintings.
Scott Kelley paints what’s in front of him. His compassion for his subjects is apparent in his carefully rendered and repeated studies of birds, flora and fauna.
Walton Ford paints the natural world as it has been influenced by the harshness of nature and the follies of humans.
Scott Kelley lives and works in Maine, though he visits Florida often to observe the birds, alligators and flora that he captures so well in his works. He is sometimes accompanied by his son, Abbott.
Walton Ford was recently interviewed on the PBS News Hour feature Brief but Spectacular, where he explained his approach to his works:
Works by Scott Kelley and Walton Ford at the Surovek Gallery
The Surovek Gallery is the sole representative of Scott Kelley’s works in Florida.
Jason Rosenfeld. Walton Ford with Jason Rosenfeld. The Brooklyn Rail. November 2017.