MALIBU SEEN

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YOU GOTTA HAVE FRONDS

By Kim Devore/Entertainment Writer

The ubiquitous California palm is the latest inspiration for artist Kathleen Keifer with her new batch of eye-catching oils, which are currently on display at the McLean Gallery. The opening night preview drew a steady stream of admirers who marveled at the collection, while sipping champagne and snacking on cucumber sandwiches.

Keifer’s series of 12-inch by 12-inch canvases depict towering trees in every color of the rainbow, suggesting different seasons, weather conditions and hours of the day. There are majestic palms in crimson, persimmon and scarlet, muted palms in olive and peach, jet black palms against a psychedelic sunset, silver palms at midnight and dreamy and dramatic palms on an overcast day.

Keifer has made a big splash in these parts by capturing iconic beach scenes with painterly, broad-brush strokes, tons of texture and loads of color.

“I’m from Chicago,” she explains. “You know, 45 straight days of gray.”

But the Malibu scene clearly brightened her outlook. “When I arrived and saw this Dr. Seuss landscape here, I thought, ‘Wow, look at this color. It was totally new.'”

After a little dabbling, this one-time portrait painter introduced herself to the curator of the Weisman at Pepperdine, which led to her first show at the McLean Gallery. One thing led to another and the rest, as they say-is history.

From the local lifeguard station to views of Point Dume, she finds something to capture on every corner. All are snapshots of what Malibuites find comforting, familiar and nostalgic-the Canyon Service Station on West Channel Road, California Woodies, and there’s even a creation of the Bluffs’ field done in emerald, evergreen and tangerine.

In recent years, Keifer has made a niche for herself as Malibu’s self-styled Monet and a favorite of local collectors. Eric and Lorna Doctorow, who pride themselves on having 10 oils including three commissions, are two of the artist’s most devoted followers.

“We both fell in love with her right away,” Lorna says, “but if we bought any more, we’d have to get a new house.”

What’s next for Keifer? “I really like the cyclists,” she says, pointing to a large oil of red and white pedal pushers tilting ’round the bend at Zuma. “And umbrellas, I love beach umbrellas.”

So whether it’s bike scenes or beach scenes, Keifer will continue to capture the local ideal, delighting art lovers every stroke of the way.

“What I love is that the paintings are so very pure, very alive and very honest,” Eric Doctorow said. And just like Malibu, ” they are a beautiful vision of what the world can be.”

The exhibit continues until Aug. 31.