March 28, 2017

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Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.


There’s a White Cat on Main Street

A New Art Studio Brings Vibrant Color to Downtown.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. When I walked up to the front door of the White Cat studio at 232 W. Main St. in downtown Frankfort, the first thing I saw was a white cat looking out the front door window. Her name is Lola and studio owner Jacqueline Keough got her from a shelter in Hazard last October. 

It turns out Lola is not the white cat for which the studio is named. That story goes back to Keough's high school days. "I found a white cat in the snow in the church parking lot. My parents knew right away it was coming home with us."

Though born in New Mexico, Keough was a Frankfort resident by the middle of the third grade and graduated from Franklin County High School in 2003. From there she went on to the UK where she earned a Bachelors degree in art, painting, and ceramics.

The beginning of Keogh’s business came about in serendipitous fashion just one year later. Her husband Bradley had opened up a veterinary practice in Versailles. When selecting paint for the walls he accidentally picked out a much brighter yellow that he intended. That's when he enlisted Jacqueline to help create a look for the rest of the clinic.

"I ended up painting all of our pets and we hung the pictures up in the exam rooms. People ended up liking them. They started saying, 'Can you paint my cat? Can you paint my dog?' "

About half her work is now done on commission. She had twenty-five commissions this past Christmas.  I didn’t finish until 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve!”

Keough describes her distinctive style as "color blocking." She was inspired by Hans Hoffman an abstract painter who used very bright colors.

Looking around her Main Street studio today one sees many brightly rendered paintings, mostly of animals. There’s a wide variety in colors, sizes, and subjects. In addition to lots of dogs and cats, one sees horses, fish, birds, and goats just to name a few.

 "Leopard Spotted Geckos" was her reply when I asked her what her most unusual commission assignment has been.  She tells a great story about having done four individual goat portraits for a friend who has fifteen goats. My personal favorite of her animal paintings was actually a festively painted crab.

Paintings range in price from $60 for the smallest up to about $250. Commissions run a little extra.

Keough rented the downtown space when her work threatened to take over the family home. "I was teaching classes in my dining room. Then I pulled in the kitchen table. I took over the garage and the sitting room. When I got this space we got four rooms back!"

The studio includes a sitting area with a table, chairs, and a sofa.  A long narrow table in the middle of the room provides workspace. There’s shelving for supplies and a sink with cabinets in one corner. Of course paintings line much of the wall space. There is also a display case with jewelry available for sale.

Keough teaches classes for both children and adults in the studio, as well as hosting painting parties for all ages. She also gives private art lessons. She has card making, paper crafting, and knitting and crochet classes as well.

At the back of the studio is an outdoor patio where Keough is planning to do a couple of murals.  When the weather warms up some of the classes will move outside.

To see a schedule of classes visit the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/whitecatstudiofrankfort/?ref=nf

One of the things that struck me as quite unique are Keough's business cards. Each one features an original painting and there’s a wide variety. "Because they're all different, people like to walk out with eight, " Keough said with a smile, adding, "I need to order some more!”

While Lola was enjoying me scratching her on the head I noticed I didn't see a painting of a white cat anywhere in the studio. "There will be," Keough assured me.

Original art. Just another one of the things that makes downtown Frankfort special.


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