Delicate and lovely are not words usually or immediately associated with surrealist art but an exception is made for the comparatively obscure artist Leon Kelly (1901-1982). Although born and raised in Philadelphia, Kelly spent most of his life painting on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island. With beach town names like Loveladies and Harvey Cedars as inspiration, he could make a dead fish appear romantic (“Naturaleza Muerta, Una Caballa“) and a listless “Girl Throwing a Paper” enchanting.
Another Philadelphian Dr. Albert Kligman (1916-2010), the dermatologist who developed the acne medication Retin-A, collected Kelly’s surrealist work and his early cubist work of the early 1960s. Today, Dr. Kligman’s alma mater Penn State is drawing largely from his private collection to show “Suspended Contemplation: Drawings and Watercolors by Leon Kelly” at the University’s Palmer Museum of Art, until August 11, 2013.