Kathleen Bennett Bastis
Kathleen Bennett Bastis

 “I get great satisfaction from combining materials in unintended ways, which reinterpret their history and origins into a modern visual story.” Kathleen Bennett Bastis.  Kathleen’s show “Permutations” will be opening in New York City on March 31. See the end of the article for details. 




Mixed media artist Kathleen Bennett Bastis’ work is influenced by the energy and character found in the shape, texture and color of reclaimed materials. Essentially, all of her work starts with a “find” – material that has visual interest in either the shape, color or markings made by nature or an industrial process.


“The character of the scrap is what starts and guides my creative process,” says Kathleen. “Because of the unique nature of the materials in my work, I would say that it is nearly impossible for me to repeat myself.  The shapes, texture and hue guide my creative process as I reinterpret the history of this detritus and construct a contemporary visual narrative. Although the materials and the finished pieces are very distinct – I have been told there is a thread throughout that identifies me as the storyteller.”


Here are two of Kathleen’s work with her thoughts on each: 


Concerto #1


One day, a few years ago, I was walking to the 14th St subway when I spotted a old upright piano on the corner of W 12th and 8th Ave. In my head, I heard my son Nick’s voice saying “Mom, do NOT pick that up.”  So, I kept walking. I made it to 13th Street before I turned around to take a closer look…it had ivory and ebony keys. Needless to say, I went home, grabbed some tools and proceeded to extract the entire keyboard from the piano. I filled several bags with all the keys, felted hammers and some other interesting parts.


As was I was gathering up my haul I looked up to see a silent, clapping ovation coming from the patrons and employees of the bank on that corner who, apparently, had been observing my labors from behind the plate glass windows.


Concerto #1


Slate Study #2


For many years, I have had the pleasure of spending time in a summer cottage set on a wooded ridge in Northfield, MA. On the main street of town, which is about a half-mile stretch of Route 16, there is an antique shop located in a barn at the back of a large white, early 1800”s home.


“Antiques” is perhaps not the word I would use to describe the majority of the contents of this barn, which is perfect for me. Dave the proprietor/owner runs the place from a stool in the front just inside the door. Piles of interesting bits and pieces that reflect the rural, agricultural setting and life style of the area surround him. Leaning up against the outside wall of the barn in the sun were a bunch of beautiful, beaten up pieces of slate roofing tiles.  Seen in the sunlight, the depth of color and geometric markings became irresistible. It turns out that the slate was from Dave’s own roof and was at least 200 years old. The bleached out quadrants, globs of tar, holes and fractures created an appealing abstract composition. I just took it from there.


Slate Study #2


Kathleen’s show, “Permutations,” will be at the First Street Gallery from March 31-April 25. There is an opening reception on April 2, 6-8pm. The gallery is  located at 526 West 26th Street, Suite 209.



  1. Honor Molloy says:

    This is such a marvelous way to start the day. Kathleen, you write so beautifully about your process. It’s clear to see that you love your scraps. And, O, do you make exquisite work with it. To pull myself out of corpo-speak and see your work is such a welcome art-vacation! xo-Honor

  2. kathleen bastis says:

    Thank you SO much, Honor. I really appreciate your kind words….most encouraging. I hope you will be able to see them up close during my show.

  3. Joanna migdal says:

    The creative process you describe is fascinating! I love that you give a second life to these found objects. Do you also wonder of their provenance….their past history? The piano keys especially intrigue me…such a mystery to me. Your account of salvaging them, tools and all, is so entertaining!
    Am looking forward to your show and will pass along to an artist who will be visiting from Berlin at that time; Clemens Weiss. He works with urban glass. Take a look at his website if you can. All very exciting, truly. Jm

    1. kathleen bastis says:

      Thank you, Joanna. Yes, I often wonder about the provenance of the materials – I like to think I am adding another chapter to their story… I do not know Clemens Weiss but will take a look at his work. Look forward to seeing you at AWoW and in April. KB

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