Author Archives: Molly Keen

About Molly Keen

Molly Keen is a Visual Artist specalizing in Public Murals.

Public Art in Lakewood, Colorado

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I created six mailboxes for the City of Lakewood, Colorado and the 40 West Arts District. The series is called “Poem Mailboxes” and showcases unique mailboxes created for gardens, birdhouses and the use of upcycled materials.

The works are interactive sculptures that being a sense of slow-paced nostalgia. The focus lays on the participatory form of communication that in this day and age is a lost art form. For some, it is their first time interacting with slow mail and writing poetry outside of the classroom. Anonymous and creative, the concept is that participants read poetry and create poetry at the mailbox. The mailbox encourages the viewer to engage with the world outside of their normal routine in somewhat of a dreamlike escape

Last year I started taking full-time classes at Laney College in their Wood Technology department. At first, I wanted to learn safety within the realm of machining and wood. What I learned was so much more than that, I received a new medium to express myself and a way that I could use my art to reach more people.

The works stand 6 feet tall, created from redwood posts 4″ x 4″s and painted with acrylic paints. There is an oil-based coat on the top, thank you, Andrew, for supporting me with testing various topcoat layers.

 

Thank you, Liz and Kate, from 40 West Arts District, A creative district and destination along the ArtLine. This organization is a nonprofit, state-certified creative district along Lakewood’s historic West Colfax Avenue with the mission of energizing and promoting West Colfax through art experiences, exhibitions, and events that engage the whole family.

Here is a little more about the ArtLine and you can get a better idea of where my mailboxes live.

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‘Starlit’, Keen + Lyft Collaboration

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In June I teamed up with Urban Artworks and Lyft in Seattle to create a team-building mural at the new Lyft driver location off Industrial and Airport road in Seattle. The style of the collaborative work was that similar to paint by numbers. I created an outline and the team filled in the shapes with colors identified by colored dots.

Introducing: ‘Starlit’, 25′ x 11′ consisting of two walls, at the entrance of their building and on the side facing outward which can be seen from Airport Way.

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I was excited to be working with Urban Artworks. I have followed their work in the past couple of years and was excited to collaborate.

Thank you again to Urban Artworks especially Project Lead Paul Nunn. Thank you to all the participants at Lyft, I would not have been able to complete this project without you! I am so glad that you have a reminder of this work every time you visit your place of work.

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“Dogs of Danville” Public Art Installation

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What an incredible experience it was working with the City of Danville, California for the “Dogs of Danville” sculpture installation.

My piece “How we grow” is an acrylic based colorful and whimsical piece that brings the viewer around the dog for a full 360-degree experience with every angle offering a different perspective. I wanted the dog to have movement complete with brightness and a sense of playfulness. One of the most time-intensive parts of the process (besides applying) is how the dog required multiple layers of paint. One can see by viewing the time-lapse that 3-4 coats of paint were needed to make a stable and bright hue that I desired as an outcome. This also was true with the black and white lines across the dog as well. The entire dog took me about 3 days of painting at a good 3-4 hour sessions. My roommates were cheering me on as I was painting in the backyard, complete with guitar playing and sunbathing.

The City put out a call months before asking for requests for applications to paint or add mixed media to the already casted plexiglass dog sculptures. Half of the dogs were standing, and the other half was standing.

The art opening took place on May 9th, 2019 at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery in Danville, CA, where all 15 artists celebrated their works. The installation of the dogs happened after the celebration where they found semi-permanent locations throughout Danville. My piece was the unique and lucky one to stay at the Village Theatre, welcoming guests and patrons of the theatre at the front entrance.

I am so thankful to be included in this show and grateful for the Danville Arts Commission for including me in the show.

Please watch my timelapse and be sure to check out “How We Grow” until September 2019 where they will be auctioned off.

Oakland Mural – “Airmid” the Goddess of healing through Herbalism

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May I introduce “Airmid,“ the violet Serpent standing at 100’ x 18’ – Spray Paint – Oakland, California. Here Airmid, the Celtic Goddess of healing through herbs and transformation, is depicted as a snake. The consciously chosen violet with powers to heal and transmute.

Being an Artist is hard work and hustle, it’s not always pretty and its never just about painting. Nevermore did I need the snake medicine midst painting outside of the 18-year-old Co-Op run “A taste of Denmark Bakery” on the corner of 34th and Telegraph. It was challenging because of confrontation, vandalism, and coming up with a plan as a neighborhood on how to restore the mural. Upon completion, I felt like a whole new Artist.

This was the largest piece that I have ever created, and the second time that I used spray paint. I traveled daily with my bicycle of course and could not have done it without the Xtracycle! That bicycle is the reason why I have not had a car in over 8 years! I loaded up spray paint from the lovely 14th Street Supply Company in Oakland, which by the way, was the best experience I ever had purchasing paint! Quality and affordable cans.

The color scheme I chose is my ideal color palette. I recently started creating my pieces digitally before painting. That way, I can play around with color and start to see different ways that I could expand concepts. For Airmid, she was really about trying a new medium, style, and balancing that with a design that I have always dreamt of creating. I wanted to make the piece simple but also with movement and activation. The snakeskin was enough detail for just getting into spray paint and the slight difference in colors creates an incredible aesthetic that you can get with layer similar colors on top of one another. I learned that technique from a sweet friend in Berlin while creating “Arriving”.

    

Thank you to Edward for your support and encouragement with this piece. For the opportunity and freedom to create what I artistically wanted. Thank you for the introduction to your world and family. Thank you to the neighborhood of 34th street, the multigenerational family members across the street that watched the entire process. They brought me coffee, pastries, and conversation.

Thank you, Hunter Franks, for your grace and confrontation skills that I only dream of creating. You stepped up and supported me in a way that I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to Sari Blum for capturing the final day, your photos are so meaningful to me. Check out her work Y’all Sari is a badass photographer that can shoot just about anything!

Lastly, thank you Nate Bauld for being there the morning I covered up the mural from graffiti. I did not want to do it alone.

Thank you, Maisha, Benji, Lauren, Carolyn, Heather, Ruca, Fenner, Jenna, Ben and all the others who stopped by to support me and say hello. The support means the world to me.

Till the next project. I love you all, thanks for being there for me.

Bicycle Touring Murals

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This past summer I set off for the second time for the Pacific Northwest on a bicycle tour with the incredible, Biketopia Music Collective. We rode our bicycles from Olympia, Washington back to our home in Oakland, CA over the span of 2.5 months.

Our goal? Use our bodies upon our large bicycles to pedal ourselves in an intentional community through cities where we would perform music with pedal-powered music! Pedal power? The same bicycles we use to tour on, we used for the community to pedal our shows! 3-4 hours long, we had different acts and musicians contribute; including murals!

In Seaside, Oregon I created a 1-day mural with participants from the local community center to create a gorgeous mural that was inspired by the garden and all of the love that went into the creation of it.

In Portland, Oregon, I created an incredible large mural that was abstract in style, and colorful in content. This piece was in the Hollywood district just right across the bicycle shop Velo Cult, which is where the bicycle touring group performed. This mural was the first where I had a reveal party with music and friends. I loved to include the community in the reveal as this is an important aspect to the mural and the future life that it will lead.

You can find the 20′ x 15′ foot mural entitled “Sacred Waters” at 42nd and Tillamook in the Hollywood District on the side of Popina Swimwear.

Berlin Mural – “Arriving”

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About The Mural:

Title: “Arriving”

Where: Comepackbackers, Berlin, Germany

Dimensions: 9′ x 20′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint, Indoor, Private Mural

Length of time: 1 week, painting 6-8 hours a day.

Artist: Individual, Molly Keen

 

Background: I was working in Mostar, Bosnia with black and white and with a focus on design and movement. It was heavily based on drawings and I wanted to bring in bright colors and focus on creating life throughout the hallway that many people walk up and down the halls hundreds of times a day. I created the mural beforehand with the owner, and came to an agreement and there I was, off to different paint stores in Berlin deciding what type of paint to purchase for the project. 5 paint stores, and some hardware stores later I found the perfect store, and to one of my favorite parts of traveling and painting murals: buying paint from foreign art stores. The paint is the same, most of the time, and the interactions and different ways to mix paints always intrigue me.

I made a time-lapse of the experience as I believe it’s important to showcase the entire process and one can see how it’s not perfect, and always changing.

I loved my time in Berlin, I ended up staying 2 weeks and made some really beautiful friends. Berlin is definitely one of those places where I would love to get my masters or study further. The art scene is incredible and the people are from all over the world and creative!

My Germany Experience:

I traveled to other places throughout Germany besides Berlin. My Grandparents on both of my father’s side have parents from Germany. My entire life I knew that I would make it there, and towards the end of my travels, I found myself in Stuttgart, Germany on an apple farm.

For 5 years its been a dream of mine to visit the farm, with my old friend Lukas. I met Lukas in South America in Peru after a Vipassana (link) meditation retreat. He was my introduction to bicycle touring as it was to my surprise that he had a bicycle loaded up with back and front panniers and he had ridden from North America en route to Patagonia. I remember thinking about how incredible it would be to travel by bicycle and to create that kind of experience. It foreshadowed a lot of what I would create for myself in the future as far as living and ride on a bicycle. I knew he had an apple farm there and it seemed almost necessary to pay him a visit and meet his family.

After Stuttgart, I took a 6-hour bus to Munich, where, my father’s last name, Aigner comes from! I actually met some people with the last name and it’s more common there of course. Munich I met with some friends from Oakland that currently live there. I spent a couple of days with them and eventually made my way to Berlin and stayed with some friends before confirming the 5th mural of the tour at Comebackpackers Hostel. The hostel was a retro, centrally located a hip spot, sold out every night I was there, with lots of backpackers. I met tons of people and really felt at home. Germany was all I ever dreamed of and more. I felt so inspired, and could definitely see myself living in a city like Berlin to get my Masters in Fine Arts. 

 

 

A Keen Mural in Ericeira, Portugal

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The third mural stop on my 3.5-month journey of creating murals throughout Europe landed me in Ericeira, Portugal: a special village beach town located just 45 minutes outside of Lisbon.

Here, I spent a couple of days walking through cobblestone alleyways with old white buildings with blue and yellow painted accents. I found myself walking every morning along the ocean with so many different beaches to explore in what seemed like every direction. 

 

   

The Mural

I was fortunate to get to work with a local woman, Ana where I stayed in her 3 story family home that she has converted into a hostel. The hostel was not open at that point, so I had the whole place to myself, located just one block from the sea cliffs that poured into the Atlantic. Here, I could see the ocean from my room and hear the sounds of the waves.

Title: Bright Zebra

Dimensions: 40 x 18 x 0, Stairwell

Where: Ericeira, Portugal – Fisherman’s House

Medium: Spray Paint, Montana Colors

Length: February 20-27, 7 days 4-5 hours a day.

Accommodation: A 3-story hostel all to myself!

 

    

I traveled to the Ericeira during the winter time and “off-season”, there was rain, but we also had some beautiful days of sunshine as well. This meant that I had the whole place to myself! 

Here is the kitchen space of the accommodation I had, where Ana would cook me meals every day and come by for a coffee. These walls were often filled with my loud music as I love to paint to music. It is necessary.

I loved using spray paint, I didn’t love the mask but I made it work. I think I went up and down the stairwell a couple hundred times. I have used them before and like how smooth and quick the colors can layer and spread out. The color choices are quite bold and you must be confident with your hands. No holding back.

 

 

Below are images from one of the beaches 45 minutes away from where many surfers will go. There is even a surfing statue over the sea cliff to represent the surfers who always look to the different beaches every morning to see which beach has the best waves.

   

  

  

Featured above is Cabo de Rock, which is the westernmost point of the European part of Portugal. Welcomed with a lighthouse and a tiny trail to explore the cliffside, I felt as if I was in some parts of Big Sur in California. This part of the Portugal Coast reminded me so much of places in California the similarities were striking.

 

Also, 45 minutes outside of Ericeira was the residence of the old royal Portuguese family that lived in a huge castle 450 meters above the town of Sintra. I loved the colors and the surrounding gardens and was so impressed with the views and architecture.

Well, that’s all from me for now! Thanks again Ana for your generosity and always making me delicious vegetarian food! The beaches and the location of Ericeira are unforgettable. If you are ever near Lisbon or Porto, Ericeira is a must see!