What does Minnesota painter Richard Abraham have to say about his paintings by Neil Sherman, Stuart Loughridge, and Shelby Keefe? Upper Midwesterners, all.
Acquiring a painting by his friend Neil Sherman that included Abraham’s old car was a no-brainer. “I definitely feel a connection to this painting,” says Abraham. “We were both participating in the Door County plein air event a few years ago, and at that time I had an old Forest Service Jeep that was seafoam green, but had one red door because somebody ran into me and that was the replacement door. You can say it was a unique-looking vehicle. Neil ended up putting my Jeep in his composition, and the red door was the spot of color in the painting. I thought it was cool and I told him that if it didn’t sell at the opening, I wanted it. At the opening, I overheard a little kid talking to his dad, and he said, ‘Hey, look — it’s the Christmas Jeep!’ That became its name. I have a lot of fond memories of that truck.
“Chinatown NY,” by Stuart Loughridge, etching, 6 x 9 in. Collection of Richard Abraham
“Neil has a very deliberate brushstroke, and at first glance his work is deceptively simple. The more you learn about painting, the more you realize how hard that simplicity is to pull off. I’ll tweak little shapes and edges forever, but I feel like Neil can let some of that go. This piece has a great sense of value and atmosphere. In the Midwest you have to learn how to paint greens. He’s really great at that, and I think this piece shows that off really well.”
“Cedarburg General Store,” by Shelby Keefe, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Collection of Richard Abraham
Next is an etching of New York City’s Chinatown by Stuart Loughridge. “I admired this little print about a year before I bought it,” Abraham recalls. “I love the composition and the use of darks. Even in a little 6”-x-8” etching, Stuart has put in so much atmosphere and distance into this little block of Chinatown. Sometimes it’s nice to collect somebody whose work is just completely different. This is completely out of my wheelhouse, and I really admire what he does with figures and the streetscape.”
“3rd St. Grand Marais,” by Richard Abraham, oil on panel, 14 x 18 in. Collection the artist
Last is a piece by Wisconsin painter Shelby Keefe that Abraham bought at the Plein Air Cedarburg event a few years ago. “I have known her for 10 years and I wanted something of hers before she was out of my price range,” Abraham says with a laugh. “It’s been great watching her take off. It’s one of those ‘I knew her when’ sort of deals. The painting has loose brushwork but really accurate drawing, like you would expect from her. You could cover up the signature on the painting and people would ask, ‘Is that a Shelby?’”