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The Automobile as Still Life : Artist Dennis Keeley Doesn't Care What's Under the Hood

January 26, 1986

Dennis Keeley paints cars, though from a certain distance.

A photographer by trade, for pleasure he hand-tints his own black-and-white photos of older cars, using watercolors, oils, dye, pencil or ink. He doesn't match the original color because tinting "is a way of making it my car." Keeley, of Los Angeles, says that his romance with automobiles is a throwback to childhood, when he found escape in drawing cars and building models. But as a teen-ager armed with the almighty driver's license, he found that freeways weren't the fun they were cracked up to be. At 33, Keeley's interest in cars remains subdued; until recently he owned only a Pinto station wagon, and he's cheerfully unacquainted with model names and numbers. His love, he says, is of the sweeping lines of cars of the 1920s to '60s, before economy took precedence over opulence.

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