Mr. Keeter Goes to Raleigh

By Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Mar. 20 | Modified: Mar. 20
Mr. Keeter Goes to Raleigh

Area artist Kyle Keeter’s work is on display at the N.C. Artists Exhibition in Raleigh.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Kyle Keeter is a Boone artist, but to see some of his finest work, you might have to travel off the mountain.

Keeter’s acrylic painting, “Southern Icons,” was recently selected for the 2014 N.C. Artists Exhibition in Raleigh, where it’ll be on display at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center through April 24. Out of 475 submissions, only 70 were chosen for the exhibition, which is juried by Dr. Eric Denker, senior lecturer and curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

As promised, “Southern Icons” depicts a Moon Pie sitting beside an empty R.C. Cola bottle, as sunlight beams through a nearby window.

“I’d already done a painting, ‘Southern Still Life,’ featuring a Moon Pie and R.C. Cola and was successful with that, so I thought maybe I’d try something different,” Keeter said.

That something different was light. Inspired by the art of Andrew Wyeth, Keeter employed a technique to demonstrate how light can play with one’s perceptions, namely how it can turn commonplace objects into something iconic and distinctly Southern.

“It was inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Cranberries,’ a still life by a kind of rustic window, with light coming through with a dark background,” said Keeter, who also cites Winslow Homer, Thomas Aikins and Norman Rockwell as influences.

Keeter earned his bachelor of fine arts degree from Appalachian State University in 2001, but also attended the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., as well as the Parsons School of Art and Design in New York.

His inspiration, however, was found during junior high school — overseas, no less. At the time, his father, Larry Keeter, a retired sociology professor at Appalachian State University, was in a faculty exchange at the University of Ireland in Dublin.

Part of that involved family backpacking trips across Europe. With Eurail passes in check, the Keeters traveled from Ireland all the way through Athens, Greece, visiting all the major museums along the way, including the Tate Gallery in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Vatican Museum in Rome.

While in Florence, Keeter was taken by Michelangelo’s “David” and began to sketch it there and then. Tourists began to gather, peering over his shoulder to see the work in progress. The drawing took longer than expected, he recalled, namely because he was somewhat reluctant to depict its more anatomical aspects.

Chalk it up to artistic humility, a trait he even admits to today. Although the N.C. Artists Exhibition didn’t recognize his work with an award this year, Keeter said being one of the 70 selected is recognition enough. “I’m honored to be a part of it,” he said.

Although “Southern Icons” is still in Raleigh, Keeter’s other works can be found throughout the High Country, with pieces on display and for sale at Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis, Iago in Blowing Rock, Ashe Custom Framing & Gallery in West Jefferson and Foothills Framing in Lenoir.

He’s exhibited at the Jones House in Boone, and his work won second place in 2012’s Best of the Blue Ridge juried competition in West Jefferson.

For more information on Keeter and to see some of his artwork, visit

Additional Images

Area artist Kyle Keeter’s work is on display at the N.C. Artists Exhibition in Raleigh.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

'Southern Icons' by Kyle Keeter

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