Jillian Kelly is owner of Retro-tique and contributing  artist in the exhibit Rebel-Rebel: A Blurring of Gender Lines, organized by the The Artist Collective of West Virginia in association with the Monongalia Arts Center, Les Femmes Folles: Women in Art, Retro-tique, & Alien Gold, opening March 3 at the Monongalia Arts Center.

She shares with Zackquill about realizing she was an artist, why this exhibit is important to Morgantown, how her shop works to promote the local arts and more…

Z: How did you end up in West Virginia?

JK: I was born and raised in Morgantown. I lived in Orlando for 7 years but moved back right before I turned 30. I’m not sure if I could ever leave again.

Z: How did you come to be an artist?

I used to watch Bob Ross and paint along with my watercolors when I was 5. He’s always been a huge inspiration to me and he always said anyone could paint if they really wanted to. I’ve always loved making and creating things and my mind never stops thinking of new projects. Art and music were the only classes I ever really enjoyed in school and when I wasn’t stuck in a boring class, I was making something. My parents were always very supportive and would buy me books and pay for classes. I’ve never been very good at drawing or painting so I didn’t consider myself a real artist. It took me until my mid 20s to realize that I was, in fact, an artist. I had so badly wanted to be one my whole life but didn’t realize I was born one. I decided then that I would make a career doing what I loved most, creating.

Z: How did this exhibition come about? Why is this important for the Morgantown community?


JK: My good friend John Michael Barone came to me with the exhibit. We’ve worked together on other art shows but nothing quite like this one. I think this exhibition is important because it will really get people thinking and hopefully it will help open some minds. It’s about the blurring of gender lines, what’s considered female, what’s considered male.

There’s a lot of diversity in Morgantown, which is great. And as times change and people are more accepting of other’s individuality, I’d like to think Morgantown will become an even better little town to call home.

Z: How do you think the environment is for the arts in Morgantown? How do you think it could improve?

taxidermy/baby doll mixed media art by Jillian Kelly

JK: All of our art exhibits have been successful and the turnout for the shows openings have been great. There is a lot of talent in Morgantown and the community seems to really enjoy local art. There’s a lot of support for art in this town.
I’d love to see more grants towards the arts and more places to display artist’s work. I think it would be fantastic if more media outlets promoted more artists and events.

I’m trying to personally help the local art and music community myself by featuring local bands and artists in my shop Retro-tique. It’s a vintage record shop and retro boutique with so many other things mixed in. I love carrying local handmade items and local band merch. I’m a big supporter of small, local business and it’s wonderful to see the community is also very supportive.

Z: What is your favorite thing about being an artist/creative/curator in Morgantown?

JK: Working with all the other artists, businesses, and people involved. I’m a people person and I love working with others. I love sharing ideas and creating with a team.

Z: Any advice for young artists in the area?

JK: Go for it! Don’t hold yourself back and don’t be too critical of your work or yourself. If you have to work multiple jobs to pay the bills because your art isn’t bringing in enough, do it. Don’t give up on what you love doing. Have fun. Be you. Keep creating. It’s worth it.

Z: What would people be surprised to know about you?

JK: Many people are surprised to hear that I have an 18yr old daughter who’s going to WVU for art. Her father is an amazing painter and musician. He definitely passed his talents on to her. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s an amazing human being.

Z: Anything to add?

JK: I’m always looking for more local artists and bands to feature in my shop so if anyone is interested, they should stop by and talk to me. 🙂

REBEL REBEL – A blurring of gender lines exhibition will be held at the Monongalia Arts Center from 3/3/17-4/7/17, with an opening reception from 6-10pm on 3/3/17.

The Artist Collective of West Virginia in association with the Monongalia Arts Center, Les Femmes Folles: Women in Art, Retro-tique, & Alien Gold are proud to present a exhibition based on the blurring of gender lines and the artist’s reaction to feminine vs masculine roles and/or the melding and reversal of these roles.

Sally Deskins is an artist, writer and curator based in Morgantown.

Leave a Reply