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Gallery Artist: Kelly jo shows

about the artist

KJ Shows was born in Seabrook, Texas in 1965.

In 1983 Shows enrolled at the Art Institute of Houston to study Visual Communications. After graduating in 1985 she worked for a silkscreen company in Houston, Texas. After four years Shows relocated to Sacramento, CA and worked for Anne Bruce Inc. Advertising as their Assistant Art Director. Shows was drawn to the creative environment and contemporary art scene in San Francisco so in 1989 she relocated there and worked for David Neuman Enterprises as a silk screener.

In 1990 Shows took a job with American Airlines as a Ramper so she would have flexible hours allowing her to devote more time to her painting. The job with American also had the added benefit of allowing her to travel the world to experience different cultures and draw inspiration from international art shows and galleries. During her time living in San Francisco, Shows participated in a number of group and solo exhibits, immersing herself in the cities art scene.

In 2001 Shows moved to Kennebunk, ME, located just over an hour north of Boston. Her new environment, home studio space and proximity to Boston invigorated her creative exploration. Shows began devoting more time to painting and participating in solo and group exhibits across the country. In 2012 Shows retired from American Airlines and now pursues her art full time.


artist's statement

Art has the power to start conversations and form connections. In 2008 I began working on a series of oil paintings that has done just that and it has profoundly impacted my life both personally and professionally.

The series began unexpectedly when I decided to paint an old pair of PF Flyer sneakers that were lying on my studio floor. I wore them nearly every day and their worn soles and weathered edges visually told a story of my life. I became intrigued with the concept of capturing the story and character of other artists in an unconventional way and shortly there after my “Portrait of an Artist” series was born.

hoes speak volumes about who we are. After time they develop a character all their own and yet they personally connect to the owner. Every thread and worn sole contains a story. They are simultaneously a still life and a portrait. By exploring a different approach to capturing a portrait I hope to encourage the viewer to pause a bit longer and contemplate the subject without being influenced by the artists true physical appearance.

This series is also about paying homage to contemporary artists worldwide and being able to connect with them personally. Creating art is my greatest purpose but spending countless hours in my studio can be very isolating. This series gives me the opportunity to connect with other artists across the world, which invigorates my creative process and inspires me. I personally contact each artists, introduce them to the philosophy of the series and I ask them to send me a pair of their shoes that best represents them. The number of positive responses that I’ve received so far has pleasantly surprised me. To date I have painted over 100 portraits of both world renowned and obscure contemporary artists who’s work I admire. The artists include Jamie Wyeth, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer, Mark Hogancamp, Ann Hamilton, Judy Chicago and Billy Childish. The list keeps growing and every portrait forges a new creative connection.

The growing number of correspondence, ephemera and photos that I’ve collected has become an additional part of the series. I look forward to going to the mailbox every day to see who has responded and the personal notes are sometimes works of art themselves. I plan on putting together a book chronicling the portraits & the personal correspondence with the contributing artists as a way for people to disc over these great artists on their own. This series has become a true passion of mine and I plan on making it a life long series.