March 23, 2006


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From Celtic design to Ayn Rand
Ketchen crams a lot of meaning into a painting

By Caitlin Yorke

Arthur Ketchen is really into his heritage and has traced his lineage back to the Irish, Welsh and Scots.

Now, Ketchen uses these different kinds of cultures as influences in his Celtic artwork, which can be seen in an exhibit, entitled “Celtic Realms of Arthur W. Ketchen,” at the Richard Pantano Gallery of Southern New Hampshire University.

Ketchen, a native of western Massachusetts, has lived in Nashua for more than 40 years. He attended the Worcester Art Museum School and Holy Cross, where he received a degree in fine arts. Since then, he has engaged in many different professions, including publishing the magazine Celtic Beat with his wife Joanne, teaching calligraphy and Celtic design, and doing murals for various projects around New England.

Ketchen became interested in art because of his mother’s encouragement. She was a skilled artist and painter, he said. As he got older and received his degree in art, Ketchen said, he “started looking for a way to show something abstract with a symbolic meaning that still adhered to the representational and human figure, and I found that in the art of my ancestors”.

Ketchen uses Celtic myths and a formal artistic approach to inspire his artwork. An example of this is his painting “Triad,” which is a pre-Christian image of the three goddesses of the Trinity — Liberty, Justice, and Reason.

Ketchen also expresses his libertarian philosophies of rational humanist individualism through his artwork with the abstract and sometimes surreal feel of his work.

Ketchen said he is inspired by Ayn Rand, founder of the objectivist philosophy, which focuses on the achievements of the individual rather than the collective society.

“Libertarians weren’t just the intellectual upholders of civilization but the only intellectuals left,” Ketchen said. “Ayn Rand hails back to the philosophies of the White Robes and Druids of the Middle Ages.

“To truly achieve your goals you must understand where you are coming from,” Ketchen said, the reason he incorporates many classical Greco-roman themes into his abstract artwork.

The exhibit is a summation of almost 30 years’ worth of Ketchen’s pursuit “to combine my own different forms of art and where they have led me.” “Celtic Realms” can be seen through the months of March and April at the Richard Pantano Gallery, in SNHU’s Shapiro Library, 2500 North River Road, Manchester.

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