Beth Waldman Keenan

2 Op Collective has their eyes on BETH WALDMAN KEENAN! Here are some examples of her work:








Q. Tell us about your work?

A. The submitted images are part of my current series of paintings called “City of Sillar”. “The City of Sillar” is not only a tourist destination, but my maternal homeland.  Arequipa has three primary mountains, The Misti, The Chachani and The Pichu Pichu. The white city of Arequipa was built brick by brick out of its Chachani & Misti Mountain’s own volcanic rock, known as Sillar. From the Spanish colonial churches to the simple homes in the barrios, hand carved sillar bricks have created the spaces in which the Arequipians live, dream, pray, and on which they walk. These bricks have a layered history. A brick of sillar once part of a cathedral tower now exists as part of a family’s rebuilt home. Worn down sillar from broken buildings is cleaned and reshaped to build new homes in the countrysides like Sabandia of Arequipa. While I have visited Arequipa multiple times as a child, a recent trip in October of 2010 inspired this current series of work.

My own history with The City involves layers of stories of three generations before me who once occupied the mansions in the central and outskirts of the city along with those of my own in the late seventies and mid-eighties as a child. Since the 1970s, Arequipa has expanded its barrios tremendously. However, never had I witnessed the city as I did during my last trip. I saw constructed and unconstructed homes speak of the cultural landscape that taking one family unit and expanding it three levels high with each growing generation. The rebar lining the skyline speaks of dreams and stories untold, of commitment and hope. The concrete blocks speak of financial success not of financial limitation. My interest is to share a side of Arequipa that is not typically seen. It is not only a story of the building blocks, but also how the building is reflective of the culture of the people. It is also about how within the same set of walls, there are many untold stories of lives had and lives being lived. There are great grandparents, and grandparents, and parents and children. Their stories and faces breathe the life into the architecture of the city, both those noted in the known tourist images such as they cathedrals and convents but more importantly, to me, in the barrios that appear to most as half constructed homes. It is a city that truly is built brick by brick by its people. One of the many traditions of the naming of Arequipa says that the Inca Mayta Cápac received a petition from his subjects to reach the valley of the Chili. They requested permission to stay in the region, because they were amazed by the beautiful scenery and mild climate. The Inca responded, “Ari qhipay” (in Quechua: “Yes, Here I will stay”).

Q. What advice do you have for your peers?

A. Carve out time at least twice a week to focus on your art. The discipline of practicing your art will be what matures your work over time. My best work results when I am fully engaged in my practice. When I am more sporadic with my practice, it takes much longer to tune into my work.  However, always remember that it is not just your studio time that is part of your practice, it is the conversations you have with other artists and non artists about your work, it is the breathing in between, and the viewing of the works of others.

Q. Where can we learn more about you and your work?

A. You can always view my current work on my website Also, see my current work in person every 1st Thursday from 7 to 11pm at SpaceCraft’s Art Exhibit at the CELLSpace Art Gallery ( in San Francisco’s Mission District. Since 2009, I have been part of the amazing collective known as SpaceCraft ( You can also arrange a studio visit by contacting me via my contact page on my website.


For three decades now, I have been setting up camp around the world. From my Princeton sandbox to the Plaza of Sonoma, I have worked from what is revealed by site and the fingerprints I impart always with the help of strangers. From Houston to San Francisco, from Rome to Rio, from Bangkok to Barcelona, and most recently in Arequipa, Peru, I have immersed myself in extreme urban environments. My art considers site, community, material and experience using architectural language and materials from or inspired by imaginary & actual sites.

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