The Pasadena Village opened its doors to the public on Thursday evening to an exhibit featuring mixed media, oil, and watercolor pieces by 87 year-old artist Loretta Keller.
The rotating gallery of art by Village members includes portraits and abstract works, highlighting Keller’s wide range compiled throughout a span of 25 years.
Keller realized her passion for art at a young age while growing up in New York City. From crayons to oil paints, she has since evolved into a multi-faceted creator.
“Loretta Keller is quite an exceptional woman,” said Peggy Buchanan, executive director of Pasadena Village. “She always thought she should be an artist but her mother thought else wise, because she didn’t want her to ‘starve or bring home any illegitimate babies.’”
Today, her work is featured in several private collections throughout California and the East Coast.
“I was fascinated always by color and the juxtaposition of different colors, and the emotion they evoked,” Keller said. “I figured if they evoked emotions in me, they must evoke emotions in everybody.”
Keller moved to Los Angeles in 1967 and studied at the Pasadena Art School, which is now the Norton Simon Museum. She later enrolled in the masters degree art program at Cal State University Los Angeles. In the 1970’s, Keller’s art was displayed at the Riverside Art Museum, which led to Riverside College’s head of the art department implementing her work as a part of the school’s curriculum.
She has been awarded for her work, winning first place in “Fiesta de Artes,” a national competition in 1973. Keller was also honored in 2003 by having a part in “Who’s Who in America.”
“I can’t tell you much about why I studied art, I just did. Even as a child, it was something that I felt I very much wanted to do,” Keller said. “The Pasadena Library had a good selection of art books and I think I must have studied all of them.”
Keller also studied the art of sculpting and used polyester resin in her work, captivated by the concept of translucent sculptures. She eventually decided to give sculpting up due to the toxins in the material. After discovering the dangers of resin, Keller went on to work in the news industry.
She has experience in multiple fields as a former writer of 7 years for the Los Angeles Times and an editor of 12 years for the Pasadena Star-News. In response to a question from an attendee asking how she had become involved with writing for newspapers, Keller talked about her trip with her husband to the Soviet Union. During their stay, she kept a diary that she later sent to Star-News upon their return to Pasadena.
“About two weeks later, I got a call from the editor at the Star-News and she said, ‘Loretta, we have had so many good reports on your article that we want you to come here and we’ll teach you journalism.’ I feel very, very grateful for that,” said Keller.
Now retired, Keller has returned to her roots in painting, continuing her contributions to the art community.