In one large, exceptionally rich piece (untitled as far as I could tell), a woman stands in a leaf-strewn yard, her eyes either closed or downcast, backed by bare tree branches and a white picket fence. Slightly to her left and in front of her stands a small blond boy wearing a white T-shirt and baggy red pants held up by suspenders, clutching what looks to be a rake in one hand, the other hand held tightly clenched by his side. The boy stands with his back to us, and our inability to see his face is both maddening and mesmerizing. The narrative possibilities of this ambiguous image are potentially inexhaustible, making it as sinister and seductive as something out of a David Lynch movie.
Kost jokingly suggests that another excellent Kelly work, Waiting Place, is the artist's attempt to do a landscape in the style of Florida's famous Highwaymen painters. Perhaps, although the picture is decidedly odder and edgier, even though it features nothing more than a rickety-looking, pale-blue wooden chair sitting at the edge of a dirt road in a lush, subtropical countryside. Kelly has an uncanny knack for imbuing everything he paints with an aura of ineffable mystery.
Keil's treatment of his subjects' eyes is de Kooning-esque.
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RaZoo trafficks in the work of many other artists. Some, such as established South Florida outsider artist Purvis Young, seem to coast on their reputations, while others, such as the late Rev. Howard Finster of record-sleeve notoriety, have had their aesthetic significance eclipsed by astronomical prices. For good measure, Kost also throws in some African masks and other ceremonial wooden artifacts.
An easy-to-miss sign near the top of the stairs to the gallery explains that in New Orleans, the word razoo, which is called out to claim all the marbles in a game before anyone else, can also be used as a verb, as in "to get there before someone else does." That's what Kost aims to do with the artists he champions and what he hopes visitors to his "anti-gallery," as he calls it, will do with the art they find there.