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Robert James Kelly

 (born 1958)
Robert James Kelly is active/lives in Minnesota, Montana.  Robert Kelly is known for multi-media sculpture, beadwork and painting.

Robert James Kelly

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Robert James Kelly
The following, submitted December 2005, is from the artist.

Robert Kelly was born on June 26th 1958 in Billings Montana.  He was named after his father's brother who died in France during WWII.  A small portrait of a horse that his uncle had done only days before he died became an icon of inspiration for him.

As a small child he moved with his parents to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he grew up and went to Harding High School.  During his junior year, Chuck Hencier, one of the first artists in residence came to his school.  Kelly became one of a handful of students that were allowed to work with Hencier, painter and illustrator.

After two years of graphic design, drawing and illustration experience, Kelly decided to pursue his art studies in college at Minnesota State University Moorhead.  He studied seriously painting well into the morning most days.  During the summer of 1980 he was interviewed by the local news regarding his knowledge of Clyfford Still, an artist he greatly admired.

In 1981 he took a brief position as an art instructor and meet Native American artist Wolf Feather (David Kline Sr.), with whom he apprenticed and eventually became a full partner in the Wolf Feather Group.  The group exhibited in several galleries and also did research and restoration work for several organizations including the Smithsonian Institution.  His first feathered Head Dress, Waterfall, hangs in the Southern Plains Indian Art Museum in Anadarko, OK.

During the eighties Kelly was a member of the artist-in-residence program through the Minnesota State Arts Board, which was an opportunity to give back and inspire a younger generation.  This was a very rewarding time for him.

After separating from the Wolf Feather group, he continued to paint and develop his drawing skills as he looked to create a valid abstract style of his own.  He reunited with his old drawing professor Jack Youngquist for a while during the late eighties and became an exhibiting member of the Minnesota Artists Association through 1989.

During the nineties up until 2005 he has isolated himself from the art world so he could raise his daughter Brianna Rachel Claire, and continue to fortify his abstract vision without the influences of the outside art world.  Currently he is working seriously toward producing a new generation of Abstract Expressionist "Spirit" paintings.  And he is looking forward to visiting the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver Colorado in 2008.


1976-1980: Studied studio art at Moorhead State University, Moorhead Minnesota.

1982-1985: Apprentice to David Kline Sr. (aka - Wolf Feather) whose focus was on the tradition history and forms of Plains Indian Native American art forms. Predominantly: contemporary art pieces based in traditional Headdresses, shields and masks. Although some restoration and creation of traditional pieces was done for the Smithsonian Institution through the Midwest Area Foundation and the Science Museum of Minnesota.

1982-1986: Residencies: As a member of the Artist in Residence program through the Minnesota State Arts Board. Presented art and culture to K-12 students focusing on the use of traditional Native American materials and forms. Using art and artifacts as story telling devices.

1986-1989: Exhibiting member of the Minnesota Artists Association.


1992: Oil painting, commissioned for a corporate collection, Mpls, MN.

1991: Triptych, commissioned for a corporate collection, Mpls, MN.

1990: Mapping #1090 series painting purchassed for private collection, Mpls, MN.

1989: GBW series 3 paintings purchased for private collection, Mpls, MN.

1989: Assisted in the restoration of nine early twentieth century oil paintings, Grand Metropolitian collection, Pillsbury Corporation.

1984: Ojibwe Tribute, mixed media sculpture, comissioned by the 1st Bank of Dulth, MN. Displayed in their lobby.

1984: Southern Plains Indian Museum Anadarko, OK. Purchased one of my feather head-dress creations for their permanent collection.

1983: Wolves and Humans Exhibition, Science Museum of Minnesota, commissioned to complete a traditional mens dance costume, as part of a traveling exhibit to commence July 1984, and then to remain on permanent display at the Wolves and Humans Museum in Ely Minnesota. Funded through the Smithsonian Institute.

1982: Restoration-Blackfeet and Lakota head-dresses, Science Museum of MN, financed by the Midwest Area Foundation, J.J. Hill collection.

1981: Timothy Ray, professor of painting MSU, purchased one of my GBW Series paintings for his private collection.


2005: Feature article. Let's Go Arts & Entertainment Section for the following Newspapers: (Chanhassen Villager, Chaska Herald, Eden Prairie News, Excelsior Bay Times, Jordan Independent Mint, Prior Lake American, Savage Pacer, Shakopee Valley).

2005: The Artists Bluebook, American Artists to March 2005, Author - Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson,

2005: Article RE: Minnetonka Art Center Group Show. Mention and photograph.

2005: Listing at

2005: Minnetonka Art Center. Member

2005: Edina Art Center. Member

2003-2004: Who's Who in American Art, McGowan, Author - McGowan, Alison C (Editor).

2003: Abstract Art, New Mexico Artists Series, Author - Ashman, Stuart; Suzanne Deats.

1999: L.A. Art Show, Fine Art Dealer's Association, Author - Rehs, Howard (President).

1997-1998: Marquis Who's Who, Who's Who in American Art, Author - Marquis Who's Who.

1993-1994: Who's Who in American Art (20th Edition), Author - Bowker R R.

1992: Strathmore's Who's Who.

1990: Minnesota Regional Arts Directory, listing with photograph.

1990: American Artists, an illustrated survey of leading contemporary artists.

1989: MW (Minneapolis Woman) artwork included in photographs of interior design for up-scale homes.

1987: Artist's Society International, Exhibition Catalogue.

1983: Minneapolis Star & Tribune, Special feature with photograph as a member of the Wolf Feather group.

1983 - 1989: Minnesota Artist's Association.

1982: Minnesota Monthly, featuring my mentor David L. Kline Sr. (Wolf Feather group).

1981: Who's Who in American Art.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Robert James Kelly

Born:  1958 - Billings, Montana
Known for:  multi-media sculpture, beadwork and painting