October 2019

the storied south


October 5-24



October 5, 6-9 PM


The Storied South exhibition highlights the visual splendor of the region – as seen through the eyes and imagination of three southern artists – Johnny Nelson, Charles Keiger and Ke Francis.  The exhibition is anchored by the large-scale, colorful and fanciful paintings of Johnny Nelson.  In this newest series of work, the artist explores the written works and personal myths of one of the South’s most recognized storytellers – Flannery O’Connor.  Nelson captures the likeness of the writer in playful scenarios that may or may not have been her reality.  This is truly his interpretation of her life through his own distinctive, artistic approach.  Charles Keiger’s paintings explore the blend of southern gothic and magical realism.  The dreamlike imagery holds the viewer’s attention as they create their own unique narrative in their mind.  The cast of characters in Keiger’s works look like they were captured in a specific moment of whimsical exploration.  Keiger uses oil and mixed media on wood and canvas to present a fresh take on how precision in gesture, design, color, and sparse details can reveal the tremendous depth of anxiety and emotion.  Master printmaker, painter and sculptor Ke Francis evokes the tragic effects of disaster, while simultaneously celebrating the resiliency of the human spirit, all within imagery which bears the artist's marks of their creation.  Imagery of tragedy and cataclysms such as tornadoes, animal traps, and wounded soldiers are juxtaposed with ancient symbols of victory and icons of harmony in order to express the interdependency of and delicate balance between pleasure and pain, rejoicing and mourning; and all acting as a stage for individual human will and determination.



Johnny Nelson received a MFA in sculpture in the late 70’s and spent the next thirty-odd years "muddling about" the construction, film and museum business. He began painting oils on canvas on a (relatively) small scale in 2003 after years of painting and designing large backdrops and scenery for stage, theater and film. Presently he maintains a painting studio in Nashville, Tennessee and is an exhibit specialist for the local arts industry.

Charles Keiger is an Atlanta-based artist known for his work representing southern gothic and magical realism. He holds a BFA from the University of South Carolina, and an MFA from the University of Georgia.  Featured in Art & Antiques magazine as an artist emerging on the national scene, Keiger has shown his work in a series of one-man and group shows presented throughout the southeast and New York City. His work has been collected in 200 private and corporate collections, including the MGM Grand Las Vegas, Joel Katz, and Halle Berry.


Ke Francis is a narrative multi-media artist who has an extensive national and international exhibition record. During an active forty-year career he has exhibited with, collaborated with, and curated exhibits with some of the most influential artists of this century, including Sam Francis, William T. Wiley, William Christenberry, Terry Allen, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Wendell Castle, Albert Paley, and Robert Stackhouse. His creative works in book arts, painting, printmaking and sculpture have won grants and awards from the Rockefeller Bellagio Study Center, The Southern Arts Federation, The Susan B. Herron Award (Mississippi Arts Commission), the Beck Foundation, the Polaroid Foundation and the Deep South Humanities Council.