Kathleen Keating has been sketching and drawing since she was a small child trying to replicate her father's pony drawings. She got really good at it. Recently, Keating won a second place award in the Equine Dream Art Show, an international art competition in California, for her drawing, Brian's Shadow.
Much of Keating's work is Western in subject, but she has also been twice to study at the Florence Academy of Art. “I learned the traditional academic Italian renaissance style. I guess that means I create my own spaghetti westerns,” she said.
Keating, team leader of the University of New Mexico Fine Arts & Design Library, is well suited for her job. She's a 24-year veteran of the University Libraries who gets art and artists. “We have amazing collections of Latin American art, as well as music and musical scores and a database that provides streaming video of dance. “We have some theatre material, but it crosses over with Zimmerman Library. And Carroll Botts works closely with the School of Architecture and Planning faculty to meet their needs, as well,” she said, noting, “We build our collections through faculty recommendations based upon their expertise.”
“Drawing I students receive an assignment to reproduce an old master drawing. I show them our resources – online at ARTStor or in books. When their work is completed, I am invited to see the finished drawings, which is very rewarding,” she said.
In collaboration with the Art Studio Department the Drawing I instructors K. B. Jones and Natalie Smith will sponsor a library during the spring semester. “Students will do drawings that we can hang in Fine Arts, Parish and Centennial libraries,” she said.
Keating works closely with the University Art Museum. “If they need resources – a book or a DVD – we order it and then it comes back to the library after the exhibition,” she said.
The library becomes a “mini-Blockbuster” on Friday afternoons. “People come in around five o'clock to check out videos for the weekend,” she said.
And although art is a relatively quiet task, Keating said that they are Making Noise in the Library, a project undertaken by Amy Jackson, the library's performance and digital arts librarian. “We've had clarinets, violinists and flamenco dancers and musicians in the library,” she said, noting that they always put up signage to advise patrons of the performances, which last only half an hour. “The people in the library like to take a break from their work to take it all in,” Keating said.
Keating said that she makes an effort to get to gallery openings in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and wants to do more to connect with the broader arts community, “I want to let them know we are here for them,” she said. One connection has been made with Book Arts Group, which provides resources and opportunities for book artists to learn and share the skills of their craft. “We've invited them in to look at our collections and provided information sessions,” Keating said.
She recently came back from a visit to her home state, Wyoming, where she visited three different ranches, caught up with Brian Harvey, a working cowboy, whom she has sketched over the past 30 years. She dreams of going out to Ted Turner's Ladder Ranch to sketch. Her husband George Farr, also a library employee, built her a studio in their home. “When I wasn't using it, he threatened to turn it into a shop. So every day since January 1, 2011, I draw. I haven't missed a day,” she said.