Two sculptures by the late John Keyser have been donated to the Village of Corrales by the artist’s family. A dedication ceremony for the metal works installed at the Recreation Center will be held Sunday, June 13.
“It is now 10 years since John’s passing,” his wife, Sybil Keyser, said in announcing the donation. “One piece sits at the entrance to the gym at the rec center and the other is by Liam’s Pond, where Art Edelhoff is rebuilding the shade structure where the “Geese” are standing to incorporate John’s art.”
The dedication ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. and will continue until noon.
Keyser worked from his metal art studio on West Meadowlark Lane about 100 yards west of Corrales Road. Perhaps most Corraleños have seen his art since it is welded to the top of wall outside the studio.
He was 59 when he died June 8, 2011.
An artist with interests ranging from philosophy to horse training and chicken-raising, Keyser moved to Corrales in the mid-1970s, part of that era’s influx of talented, creative people committed to a sustainable lifestyle.
The structure he built along Meadowlark Lane in 1976 was meant as an art studio, but it evolved into the family home. As his success in art progressed, he built another studio nearby from which he produced the metal artwork and functional art furniture featured by high-end retailers such as Harrods of London and Nieman Marcus.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, he earned a degree at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore. He and his wife, who lived in the same apartment building while she studied at Antioch, moved to New Mexico to pursue a master’s degree in fine art.
While a student at UNM, he won the State of New Mexico’s first “One Percent for the Arts” commission. The piece he produced, “Static Motion,” still stands on the UNM campus, and has been recognized for its importance by the Smithsonian Institution.
Many of Keyser’s commissioned artworks will continue to be seen around Corrales for decades to come, including gates, doorways and furniture. He also created the “Dance of the Whooping Cranes” sculpture at the entrance to the Rio Grande Zoo.
His work was featured in a five-page spread in a 1990 issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Some of his home decor pieces became so popular he had to hire workers to produce the copyrighted designs sold in furniture stores and crafts shops across the country. The Kokopelli figure he created was installed in the Lincoln Center Museum.
His active lifestyle included kayaking, cycling and roping. He first became sick in 1999, his wife said, and when he began to recover, he concentrated on more site-specific works of art. Beginning around 2005, she said, he mainly did custom tables, fireplaces, gates and other commissioned work.