Best Local Artist St. Louis 2013 - Kit Keith
Kit Keith's life narrative is far from the usual one. The daughter of a traditional sign painter who swept his family away to the circus, Keith can claim having been a trapeze artist as well as a punk rocker, a golf-playing self-taught artist, and an adamant defender of all things antique, handmade and fragilely decrepit. An intermittent St. Louisan since age nineteen (with ritual stints in New York City), Keith is a chronicler of lost local history, collecting worn dolls, tossed-away keepsake cases, canvas tarps and eroding portions of historic advertising. An artist who uses her yard-sale stock to craft intricate works of raw emotional immediacy and graphic boldness, her style is unmistakably her own: poised, raven-haired women with side-glancing eyes and clinched red lips; perversely melancholy slogans like "Save Big Money in Your Spare Time" scrawled in a wispy font; portraits in the shape of stars painted on discarded mattresses. And while Keith has exhibited widely and broadly (her illustrations have graced the pages of The New Yorker, among others), she remains an indie character, a rare find not unlike her favored materials — the kind of humble virtuoso who fits precisely within this city of crumbling brick and elegant rust.