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Brian Ferry March 2017

Eric Kelly annouces the stolen Legacy exhibit is on the drawing board and as an abstract exppresivnist artist will  examine the attack on the human race.  The complex inner workings of art and science in todays society.   This show promises to be a exhibit like none he has done before in North America. 

Kelly is a pastelist who has helped revive the grand tradition of figurative pastels drawing. Very modern, depicting the human expression and emotions bare and stripped of pretence.


Dr. Melvin Carver Dean North Carolina Central University. “ Kelly’s seems to emphasize the historical moments in time that each expression emphasizes. The beholder is whisked away into a state of shear brilliance and extraordinary imagination.”


Kelly’s ability to draw portraits, the nuances of different tones and the luminosity, the eyes, to get a sense of the emotion underneath, the facial muscles, his handling of the pastels, these are what makes him a true artist. Tegie Kimble, CEO Link the Art organization.

Eric Kelly III signs on for The Saint SYA Academy Fund raising project!

Brian Ferry March 2016

Kelly in a this years St. Sya funraiser has agreed to paint several painting to raise funds for school inprovement and schorlarships for St. Sys Academy in Durham North Carolina. " It is an honor to be asked and i truly hopr the community will pict in to help me as I work to help the St> Sya Academy to continue its 20 year legacy in educating students one seed at a time"

'My paintings are about history, pride, gratefulness and ultimately happiness. It is evident that these paintings speak volumes about who I am. When my artwork is viewed, I would like to give the viewer a sense of created energy. I would like them to investigate, explore, struggle with, and enjoy my creation. From these paintings I want my audience to appreciate and capture the joy of their inner emotions while viewing the inner thought of the paintings. Every line or shape does not need to represent some specific thing. Instead, the line or shape is merely something that belongs to a greater cause, something that enhances or disrupts the end result of my expression. These forms I discover through drawing and painting abstract and expression of the human drama. “My passion is the exploration of abstract and expressionism techniques to combine them, which have led to vast amounts of knowledge and continue to direct me towards my art solutions.” Eric Kelly III

Kelly to showcase new work in Febuary

Brian Ferry March 2016

The new show that has expanded for more than 30 pieces is called Faces that speak life is the latest in a show that showcase his abstract expressionist work.  Each painting evolves as I use color and lines to express his in feelings.   The color is feeling and the black lines define the emotions.

There will be pieces from his other shows displayed as well. This is a must see if you have not experienced his awe inspiring art shows.  The show starts at 6pm with the opening and a tour of his work narrated by Mr. Kelly.  Then followed by questions and answering session.   This art show promises to be both entertaining and informative. 

International  Summitt in Cary


Eric Kelly III puts on an Art exhibit in Cary NC, Talk about the summit and explains his art.

Kelly to showcase at the International Summitt


January 20 2018 

Durham North Carolina has been home to many great artists both past and present. There is no shortage of talent coming from our region. Durham has many great artists both established and emerging who practice a variety of different genres and subject matters. Here are one artists who live in the area and a little more about the art that they are known for.  Durham-based abstract expressionist artist Eric Kelly, also known as Kelly Worldwide, is filming the documentary “Human Landscapes” at Playground Studios, 1500 E Club Blvd, Durham, NC, on January 20, 2018, from 10am to 6pm with a tribute to Tupac Shakur in a celebration of his life, his legacy and his art. Call 919-308-9090 for more information and time of speakers, workshops and performances.

“Human Landscapes” is Kelly’s first self-portrait painting documentary and gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look at Kelly, an artist and branding expert who has been a pivotal figure in Durham’s black business scene since the 1990s, according to the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Durham business and professional chain and countless other corporations and business.   Kelly’s black business expos showcased 300 corporations and business each year and commanded crowds of 5000 to 9000 people nine years in a row, his shows have been awarded the key to the city and a black business week.  One of the largest business shows in the history of North Carolina the show featured keynote speakers, national artist and seminars and workshop to increase business awareness and profit. Now retired Kelly has devoted all of his time to his art and several special projects. 

The documentary “Human Landscapes” will be film at playground studies by the engineer of the year Charka Harley.  This will be a live event and the community is invited to comment on Facebook live online and for people who want to attend the event at playground studios the doors open at 10am.  The program will begin with a final portrait instalment in the series he has work on for more than four years.  With so many celebrities and local portraits in the show, the last portrait will be of the late Tupac Shakur.  A fitting ending to a show that showcases different people and personalities that span the globe.  The show will be on Facebook live, periscope live and google hang-out, starting at 8am January 20, 2018.  The Dailey program will feature a Tupac Shakur luncheon, a panel discussion on his music through the years. Kelly will also lecture on How to be Successful in art, Your Brand, Your Talent and Your Money which is a Success Seminars series that he will be speaking on at North Carolina Central University on January 19, 2018 in Durham North Carolina at 6:00pm.  The title of the lecture will be called So you want to be a billionaire!  He will discuss the art market how it works and how you can brand your Art. He will present the same talk at Playground Studios during this remarkable day.


Throughout the film, Kelly portrays an independent artist during the drawing of his latest portrait instalment to this ground-breaking show, titled “Human Landscapes.” Kelly said he focused on giving a raw and accurate depiction of what the life span of painting a portrait is really like.

“There are a lot of stories about artists blowing up almost overnight, but very rarely do people get an inside look into the life of an artist who has made a living off of their art for 45 years but hasn’t blown up,” Kelly said. “The concept of being a working artist or painting is kind of a new thing in the minds of young artist because being a professional artist has for years been promote as a field where artist will end up as starving artist, so I wanted to shine a light into what that’s like.”

Kelly said he contacted by Playground Studio’s Charka Harley to produce the film, and he was more than happy to support his efforts to expand from art to film. “Human Landscapes” will be the most recent featured film in the Playground Studios “Visiting Filmmakers” series.

“The film speaks wonderfully to the trials and tribulations of an independent artist, who tries to create work on his own terms,” said Charka Harley, director of film and video at Playground Studios. “We’re excited to produce it and show it because it gives us a chance to support a local artist who has been successful [in music], and is now branching out into film.”

Because Kelly has been active in the national artist of the Durham arts scene for nearly four decades, he said competing with himself is what keeps him motivated.

“I’m inspired by waking up each day, the challenge of trying to get better at my art,” Kelly said. “There will always be a higher mountain to climb and I will never know it all, but the challenge of trying to master my craft motivates me every day.”

With years of experience under his belt, Kelly’s film aims to show just how rigorous of a process it is for an artist to put his or her projects out to the world.

“Because an artist –– a painter, musician, or filmmaker –– has his or her work shown or experienced often and all over, some might get the sense that the hard part is over,” Harley said. “For most artists, each new project is a new process, and one has to hustle and struggle to get the work in front of an audience.”

Throughout his career, Kelly has received praise for many of his solo shows, and has collaborated with other producers. But rather than resting on his laurels, Kelly said his list of goals keeps growing.  “My career goals are to take the art as far as possible, whether that’s drawing, writing, painting, podcasting or participating in films like ‘Human Landscapes,’” he said. “Just being featured in this film is exciting and rewarding and that if I keep pushing and learning, I can be really good at it.”

The screening of “Human Landscapes” will take place at the Playground Studios later in the year. The filming of the project will be on January 20, 2018 doors open at 11am with refreshments being served at 12 o’clock followed by a panel discussion and a video presentation.  A Durham artist who discovered a form of painting that uses only vertical lines is the subject of a documentary to be released in 2018.

Eric Kelly calls the painting technique he discovered 15 years ago abstract fugitive expressionist. It was that art form and Kelly’s compelling life story that spurred the interest of director and producer Chaka Harley.  They are creating a documentary titled “Human Landscapes,” about the artist and painting technique in which shapes are created and scenes come to life using colors and line paint strokes.

The art

Using acrylic paints and a canvas, he paints portraits of people faces using colors and line to create dynamic piece of art.  He begins with background and larger shapes, then working in more intricate strokes and lighter colors to establish details and depth.  Each stroke places an undercoat of designs and coarse shapes that complete each painting, with a precise mixture of paint and lines. The lines range from three inches to a 16th of an inch, and it takes creating different colors and shapes over about a three-day period to create one painting.  Kelly paints during the day, in the middle of the night, when there are no distractions.

The artist

He didn’t always paint in lines and multiple colors, though he used pastels to communicate his thoughts and idea through art. Kelly began painting at age 4, as the son of Frances Cagle and grandson of Lovella Kelley a famous civil right leader and activist.  During his junior high and high school, he horned his skills as one of Durham’s exciting young artist.  Kelly attended North Carolina central university on Art Scholarship as an art major, where graduated, later open Kelly worldwide branding agency where he worked for over thirty years.  I saw things in lines, shapes and colors while I was working on my pastel art. One week in November I look at a picture and everything had a line and multiple colors.  I was intrigued and fascinated by what I was experiencing.  I began to painting on canvas and was delighted and overjoy with the outcome. His first painting in this style was of a picture he’d taken when he was on vacation New York, being a master Pastelist Kelly painted with the same energy that brought him national acclaim as one of twenty centuries leading abstract expressionist artist. The face and the expressions, the figurative style and in multiple colors, was a challenge and took three days to complete.  “I wanted to see if I could paint expression, using lines and different colors without the use of different shades of one color.  I finished my first painting using the art form that wasn’t yet named.  Kelly brought the painting to Dianne Pledger of, who was the director of Hayti Heritage Center Gallery. “All I wanted to know is if anyone had ever done this before,” Kelly said. “She said no, but it begs the question: why would anyone want to do it?”  The intrigue of the painting, aside from the fact that it was painted using multiple colors and lines, and how it created curved shapes, and the faces appeared to jump from the canvas.  This new piece of arts grabbed the attention of Chaka Harley who thought filming the process would a great way to introduce the art form to the world.  It was ironic, Kelly said, that the prints of some of the paintings hangs in the studios.  The paintings also inspired Harley to become executive producer of “Human Landscapes”, the documentary that chronicles Kelly’s life and discovery of abstract expressionist.

Details about the documentary, of “Human Landscapes” are included on the page titled, and examples of Kelly’s artwork, as well as a trailer for the documentary, can be seen at  For more information you may call (919) 308-9090 or

Founder Hositalize

After head-on collision, artist Eric Kelly III creates what he considers his life’s best work

Eric Kelly III’s life flashed before his eyes, and what he saw would become his greatest work.

Kelly, who has lived in the Durham NC area since retiring, was sitting at an intersection in Durham North Carolina was going to the grocery store to buy food to have dinner, when an oncoming driver swerved into his lane, colliding with the car head-on. The collision, which was caused by a drunk driver, was horrific.

Kelly suffered significant, though non-life threatening, injuries. The other driver, a 29-year-old man, sustained injuries that would keep him in the hospital for several weeks, although he would eventually recover.

“It was almost like slow motion, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘Is this it?’” Kelly said of the crash.

“After (the crash) happened, it just kind of brought me to the next level in my art.” Eric Kelly III


Although initially he felt significant signs of outward injury, Kelly soon developed severe pain in his neck and back that would keep him in physical therapy for six months. For Kelly, this was far more than merely a physical trauma; the inability to create art was emotionally debilitating as well.

The trauma of the crash ended up being the trigger that launched Kelly to the greatest heights of his career. Following his recovery, Kelly would go on to paint portraits of Alicia Keys, Marilyn Monroe, Malcom X, Donald Byrd, Floyd Mayweather, Richard Pryor, Beyoncé, Tupac and more than fifty other celebrities and various people that represent the greatest of his already impressive portfolio. He entitle the collection as Human Landscapes. 

Kelly is a lifelong artist, since his family invested in and open the Eric Kelly Museum when he was 15 years old. However, life, in the Durham Area, made it difficult to support himself solely through his art. Thus, for most of his life, he trained himself in acrylic and pastel painting and went to college to become a master painter; Kelly has always pursued art professionally while working various other jobs.

It was not until 1989 that everything changed. Kelly’s Grandmother, mentor Bill Cherry and a close friend all passed away, and a change had to be made. Despite heading, a highly successful business Kelly Worldwide, art was his life passion Kelly said he wanted to explorer more art and more ideas of creative interpretation.

In the years that followed, Kelly won numerous awards and becoming a renowned pastel painter in abstract expression and realism. He has been described as the “better-than-life” artist for his incredibly realistic depictions, and yet even with the accolades he never felt that he had achieved his life goal of creating his absolute best work.

“I wanted to be the very best that I possibly could,” said Kelly in reflecting on the period leading up to his discovery of a Michelle and Barack Obama photograph that inspired his portrait of the iconic figures. The photograph depicts the couple staring at you with hope and justice in their eyes. Kelly said that the emotion in the piece “really spoke to me.”

Kelly, now 63, said after the devastation of the car crash nearly 18 months ago, and the painful stretch that followed, he constructed “Beyoncé Forever,” a portrait of the famous singer and cultural icon.

 “After (the crash) happened,” he said, “it just kind of brought me to the next level in my art.”

A Glimpse into the World of Eric Kelly III

I have spent the last few years breaking down the complex career of Eric Kelly III, the Washington DC born, Durham Based-based artist who is one of twenty centuries captivating and abstract expressive artist. If there is a steady theme throughout Kelly’s diverse work, it is his chameleonic ability to leap between genres and methods. He used video, drawing, installation, sculpture, and paintings — sometimes all in the course of a single show — to examine the darkest corners of his own subconscious and memory, often hinting at a mysterious, unspoken word of portrait and realism that is revisited again and again but never quite defined. Kelly was a conceptual line artist so subtle and clever that in the gallery’s latest view of him, an exhibition called “Human Landscapes,” curated by Alexzander Rockefeller, the word Human landscape itself is delivered with a knowing wink.

The show’s centerpiece is a remarkable and little-seen installation from 2010 called “Hip Hop,” which includes a film or videos, each project on its own large screen, of various American paintings from the collection of the Eric Kelly III Museum, the museum henry Stancil and Lovella Kelley created in her house that Kelly visited as a boy. One hall and one room space was created for paintings he would make as a child.  She nurtured his work and she encouraged him to draw and paint as a child.  The paintings Kelly focuses on include ‘PEN and Ink”, “Football” and Kelly’s more famous “Historical Moments.” As a statement on the artist’s formative years, “Womanhood” is oddly moving dedication to the beautiful black woman of his liking. The drawings and paintings feel like a physical approximation of Kelly’s eyes as a child; as the eyes scan the works, we are seeing them, as if Kelly himself drew them, as if for the first time. And yet he tempers this nostalgic, almost sentimental view of his childhood by including alongside the drawings and paintings that examine various points of perspective in his source material: One of them is a close-up, ink drawing in Kelly’s own hand, of what could only be described as the least important figure on wood a six-part ink on wood drawings of historical changes: a series of line drawing that leap of the material from thoughts, who is seen only through the lens of a more prominent figure in the illustration. This elevation of the materials used is a typical gesture for Kelly, whose work so often returned to his roots in the seemingly remarkable burst of brilliance. However, it also illustrates — somewhat literally — his fondness for line art at an early stage, which is something considered being very southern.

For admirers of Kelly, “Human Landscapes” alone makes the show worth seeing, but it is full of treasures that demonstrate the depth of the artist’s self-exploration. One work is a detailed painting of himself— the kind one might find in any suburban home anywhere — onto which is affixed in a man on canvas in the dark presentation!

Ken Beckford


John Coltrane fest combines arts, issues

October 3, 2016 Richmond County Daily Journal Local News 2 0

By: By William R. Toler -

William R. Toler | Daily Journal Artist Eric Kelly III, originally from the Dobbins Heights area, shows a print of Michael Jackson to a little boy walking by his table at the 8th annual John Coltrane Music Edu-tainment Festival on Saturday.

HAMLET — Bringing people together through the arts is Gerard Morrison’s goal.

And for eight years, he’s been trying to do that through the John Coltrane Music Edu-tainment Festival.

This past weekend’s event at Wayman Chapel Faith Center combined musical acts, art and an opportunity for everyone to share who they are and what they do.

The stage was flanked on either sides by paintings of Coltrane, a Hamlet native and jazz legend, by Eric Kelly III.

Coltrane was born in Hamlet on Sept. 23, 1926 and played saxophone with a variety of jazz artists — including Miles Davis and Cheraw, South Carolina native Dizzy Gillespie — before forming his own quartet in 1960, according to his biography at Following his death from liver disease in 1967, Coltrane was awarded a Grammy for best jazz solo performance (1982), a lifetime achievement award (1997) and a special citation from the Pullitzer Prize Board for his work (2007).

Kelly, an abstract expressionist artist, spent his childhood in what is now Dobbins Heights, before moving to Durham. In addition to his Coltrane canvases, Kelly featured his collections of President Barack Obama and the metamorphosis of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Laurinburg native Steve Pipkin, who now lives in High Point, sang a gospel tune; Hamlet’s Mario O’Farrill-Walker read a poetry selection about being a young Christian; and Tasha Sheppard of Greensboro, who performs as T-Shep, delivered an original piece of inspirational hip hop that dealt with several issues, including domestic violence.

Discussing those types of issues was also something that Morrison encouraged, especially with October being both Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The upcoming election was also a hot topic, with several people in the audience speaking out about the importance of voting and plans to help get people to the ballot box.

“If it doesn’t stimulate the mind, I won’t touch it,” Morrison told the Daily Journal prior to the event. “I’ve done a lot of work with political campaigns, so I’ve learned that. I wanted to fuse all those things together. This way we have fun, and we get things done.”

The festival also featured a list of artists and other celebrities with roots to the Sandhills and Pee Dee regions of North and South Carolina.

Morrison is hoping the event will continue to grow in the coming years.

For more information on the annual event visit or follow @JCMEF on Twitter.

By William R. Toler

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