Our alumni are definitely going places. For the past month, the artwork of two UR alumni, Jack Keil, Class of 1944, and Andy Neilly, Class of 1947, has been on display in Hartnett Gallery in Wilson Commons. The overall theme of the exhibit is travel and transportation.

Keil, a self-described “late in life artist,” began drawing about sports. Some of his football paintings are in the exhibit, including a painting of football through the years at UR, which is permanently on display in the Athletic Department.

An active alumnus, Keil was a member of the track and soccer teams at UR. After joining the Army Air Corps, he moved on to a successful career in advertising, making his mark as the creator of McGruff the crime dog.

Most of Keil’s paintings are of trains. He attempts to convey the power and beauty he finds in this mode of transportation, as he is “addicted to the power of steam locomotives and the barn red of boxcars.” These paintings, drawn with acrylic on wood, are simple, yet colorful and lively. They capture and convey the immensity and power of trains.

The paintings focus on freight trains, tractors and box cars, with which the artists claims to have a “love affair,” but depict a slice of American life with colorful background landscapes.

Neilly’s paintings, which are on display along with his former classmate’s, follow along the same themes. Neilly’s work focuses on travel, with paintings of trains as giant powerhouses of energy tearing through the American heartland.

After graduating from UR in 1945, Neilly worked in publishing at the prominent John Wiley & Sons firm in New York City, retiring in 1995.

Unlike Keil, Neilly uses watercolor. His brilliant depiction of locomotives portrays his “obsession with” trains, presenting them as huge looming forces. Obviously an avid traveler, Neilly chose to depict the many different places he visited through his art. Many of his featured watercolors show scenes of Venice, Notre Dame in Paris, St. Remy and Provence. The artwork vividly shows the gorgeous cathedrals and churches found in these areas.

Scenes from his travels in America are also displayed in the Gallery. Neilly’s paintings show Maine and Napa Valley in bright colors. Neilly also has several portraits on display.

As a memorial to the Sept. 11 tragedy, Keil donated a painting he created in its aftermath. It honors the strength of America to overcome adversity in the name of freedom. Titled “Have Faith,” the painting depicts four versions of the American flag from 1775 to 2001. The work was donated for a raffle, with proceeds going to the American Red Cross NYC Relief Fund.

Their artwork, which has been on display since Meliora Weekend on Oct. 12, has been appreciated by students.

Junior and Hartnett Gallery employee Sheida Jafari commented on the ongoing exhibit.

“It’s so nice to see UR alumni who are still so active in our school,” she says. “The exhibit shows current students how much they can do with their future after college. These two men have had successful careers, have traveled around the America and around the world. Through their artwork, they show students the possibilities that await them,” Jafari said.

Keil and Neilly have been around the world and back, eager to share their interests and experiences with their former school through art.

Avramidis can be reached at gavramidis@campustimes.org.

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