Local Spartan Loves E.L. Art Fair

By: Jason Colthorp Email
By: Jason Colthorp Email

East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, South Bend, Wrigleyville... the list goes on and on. The areas are part of artist Brian McKelvie's "Pubs Of" series that will again be on display at this year's East Lansing Art Fair.

"Pubs Of" has become McKelvie's trademark and the locations keep on growing. The idea was born in 2007 when he was working on Mackinac Island. Basically, he takes all the famous pubs and taverns of a city and puts them together on a fictional street with famous city landmarks adorning the background.

"I use the term (pubs) loosely in my work and stretch it to include coffee shops, restaurants and other gathering places," says McKelvie. "The main thing is they are exclusive and special to each specific town and are not so much a part of the corporate scene."

McKelvie, a St. Johns native, graduated from MSU with a degree in Landscape Architecture. He was getting a little stir crazy at his studio on Mackinac and wanted to get back on the road to experience the places he'd soon be drawing. He went all over the midwest and has drawn a "Pubs of" for every Big 10 city except for Happy Valley (Penn State).

"I put 305,000 miles on my car in the last 7 years selling these scenes," says McKelvie.

He's completed 30 "Pubs of" scenes to date and just finished his first International sampling called "Pubs of Venice." While it may seem like something he'd be able to crank out in a few weeks, McKelvie's dedication to his craft takes him to each place he draws, meeting the owner of every pub included in the scenes and getting to know the city. It extends the whole process by two to three months, even longer in some cases.

"I have been working on 'Pubs of Evanston' over the last year and a half," says McKelvie. "I'm finally finishing it next week."

The Traverse City/M-22 offering also took more than a year, but it is also now available for sale.

McKelvie is green and white at heart and you'll be able to see him at this weekend's EL Art Fair on the campus side with a double-booth to accommodate all his art. It's the start of a busy summer with 40 shows and fairs on his calendar, including stops in Chicago and Ann Arbor.

"It's going to be a crazy few months!"

McKelvie's work is available for viewing at his website www.pubsof.com.

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