Keith Newhouse’s demons cackle at LaPelle


Keith Newhouse, Tornado, 27 x 21 inches

The “jittery gibberisher” who yacks in pen and ink all over Keith Newhouse’s collaged drawings at Rodger LaPelle Galleries is part artist and part demon, living in a world of terrors, large and small.

The phrase, which appears more than once in Newhouse’s drawings, seems to be a self-description of an artist who cannot stop writing words, which serve as decorative elements contained in outlined spaces or wander all around the page.

I haven’t been in LaPelle for a long time, but these drawings–there are 59 of them!!!–chock full of semi-readable prose, demons, beady-eyed animals and tangled flow-chart landscapes, immediately endeared themselves to me at first glance, and then kept right on interesting me at the fourth and fifth prolonged look.

Keith Newhouse, Two-Headed Running Man, 20 x 16 inches. Those are fingerprints in the daisy chain path.

Newhouse, who showed at LaPelle in the ’80s and ’90s, is a Drexel art professor in his mid-60s, but clearly the times have caught up with him and his outsider-y style, which echoes such masters of word-encrusted, incantatory art like Jacob el-Hanani, William Hawkins and Mark Lombardi (to cover the spectrum) at the same time that he offers the high-decorativeness of Felipe Jesus Consalvos or a Martin Ramirez.

Keith Newhouse, Snake Demon Man, 22 x 28 inches
Keith Newhouse, Snake Demon Man, 22 x 28 inches

Talismanic power aside, the work is also quite beautiful, the colors luminous. So Newhouse has his cake and gets to eat it too. He’s inside and he’s outside all at once. The compositions vary from maze-like maps to flat landscapes and demon portraits bursting with pressure-cooker thought bubbles. Check it out!


keith newhouse, rodger lapelle gallery



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