about the artist

Born in 1958, Keith Bland’s journey began in small-town Texas, the oldest son of a high school football coach. At 13, he moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended junior high and high school. He studied business and finance in college, and real estate, preservation and architectural history in graduate school.  He began his professional career in the American corporate world. In 1990, at the age of 31, personally unfulfilled with the world so eloquently described in Michael Lewis' novel, Liar's Poker, Keith resigned his executive position with a Wall Street investment firm in New York City to focus solely on painting, which has always been his life's passion.

Keith opened his first painting studio in a small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and studied nights at The Art Students League of New York.  The living costs of the City forced a move within a year, and Keith chose to move to the small but vibrant arts community of Oxford, Mississippi.  It was in Oxford where he began to establish his reputation as a contemporary portrait artist, specializing in large format 3-feet-square faces of children. In the spring of 1994, Keith followed the brilliant light and color to Key West, Florida. The natural visual environment of the Florida Keys, specifically the ever changing luminescence of the sky and sea surrounding the Keys, became a major influence on his art. Since 1994, Keith has explored the visual effect of water and fluidity on the human figure and face. His series of self-portraits, titled Reflection, emerged in 2005.  The Reflection paintings resonate with Keith's continued elemental exploration of the human face and of water’s transforming quality: visually, realistically, and symbolically. The Reflection series represents a visual narrative of his journey to self-acceptance.

Throughout Keith’s life, his creative impulses have primarily been inspired from the colors and forms of our natural environment. In his work, he attempts to unite the viewer with the sublime found in our visual world.  In addition to his Key West studio, he opened a second painting studio in New York City in 2002.  By the end of 2003, drawn to the apple's brilliant color, clean sculptural quality and visible core, his began his fruit still life paintings. In early 2005, the still life paintings evolved into the surrealistic “Fallen Fruit” series featuring mangoes or key limes suspended (or falling) and juxtaposed on a natural background of sky (and oftentimes horizon). The evolution of his lifelong fascination with the energy, color, and the radiant light of the sky continued with his series, SACRED SPACE dawn dusk.  The paintings and photographs from SACRED SPACE dawn dusk were featured in major solo exhibitions at The Studios of Key West (tskw.org) in March of 2011, and the Memphis Botanic Garden in April, 2011, and spent the summer of 2011 in the galleries of Askew, Hargraves, Harcourt and Associates (A2H) in Lakeland, Tennessee.  In addition to the paintings and photographs, a coffee table book titled SACRED SPACE dawn dusk, Postcards from the Key West Sky was published as part of the exhibitions.

The focus on the energy and color of the sacred twilight sky has shifted back to the human face.  "Riffs on Immortality, Portraits of Sculpted Faces from the Stone Age to the Present"  features portraits of the faces of iconic sculpture from varying cultures from around the world, created by artists from as far back as 25,000 B.C., and orginally designed to be "immortal".  Keith is working collaboratively for the first time with poet Maureen Tracy Venti, who is also committed to the "Riffs on Immortality" theme.

Born in Texas.
Relocated with family to Memphis, Tennessee.
Received BBA degree, with a major in Finance, Baylor University, Texas
Received Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) degree, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, New York City, concentration in American Architectural History and Preservation
Studied at The Art Students League of New York and began career as professional painter.
Opened painting studio in Oxford, Mississippi.
Relocated painting studio to Key West, Florida.
Began dividing time between studios in Key West and New York City.


Continued focus from 1990 to the present on commissioned contemporary portraits of the faces of children, in oil, typically on 3-foot-square canvases.  Portraits hang in well over 100 collections throughout the United States.

Painted a full-length portrait of Ernest Hemingway to honor Hemingway's 100th birthday in 1999.  The portrait was unveiled during Hemingway Days in Key West in July, 1999, and hangs over the fireplace in the main dining room of the Hemingway House in Key West.  The home and portrait are featured in the 2010 coffee table book Great Houses of the South by Laurie Ossman, photographed by Steven Brooke (Rizzoli).

Honored by the Key West Art and Historical Society in 1997,
by receiving special recognition for work submitted to the South Florida regional artists' exhibition.

Completed four oil paintings and murals in 1992 for sets of a Disney-produced movie. The work currently hangs at Universal Studios in Orlando.

1991-1992 painting "Labor Day Morning, Oxford, Mississippi"
selected by the Oxford Tourism Council for it's 1992 Oxford publicity poster.

Set out on a one-year sojourn in January, 2010, to explore the color and form of the dawn and dusk sky in Key West.  His resulting photographs and large-scale paintings are featured in his  "SACRED SPACE dawn dusk", exhibits, and in his new coffee table book, SACRED SPACE dawn dusk Postcards from the Key West Sky.

In September, 2011, the latest series titled "Riffs on Immortality" began.  The work features 24 inch x 18 inch expressionistic portrait busts inspired by the faces of statues of immortals from many world cultures, reinterpreted in oil on canvas.  Keith says, "the portraits were commissioned by the immortals themselves, some up to 2500 year old."


July 1991
The Basement Gallery Oxford, MS
Sept 1991
Askew, Nixon, Ferguson, & Wolfe Memphis, TN
Mar 1992
Harvest Cafe Oxford, MS
July 1992
Eaton Gallery Memphis
Sept 1992
The Wine Press Dallas, TX
Mar 1995
Southside Gallery Oxford, MS
Dec 1995
Images, East Martello Museum Key West, FL
Aug 1997
Images, East Martello Museum Key West
Sept 1997
La Te Da Key West
Oct 1997
Images, East Martello Museum Key West
Feb 2004
Harrison Gallery Key West
Feb 2004
Southside Gallery Oxford, MS
Jun 2004
J.P. Morgan Chase Bank New York City
Jun 2004
Key West International Airport Key West
Jul 2004
Gourmet Garage SoHo New York
Sept 2004
Jay Etkin Gallery Memphis
April 2005
Tribeca Open Artist Studio Tour (TOAST) New York
May 2006
Tribeca Open Artist Studio Tour (TOAST) New York
Feb/Mar 2007
Gavroche New York
May 2008/09
Long Island City Open Studios New York
March 2011
The Studios of Key West (tskw.org) Key West
April 2011

July-Aug 2011

July-Aug 2013

Memphis Botanic Garden

Askew Hargraves Harcourt & Associates

The Studios of Key West (tskw.org)



Key West