Katherine Keenum


A blog about the paintings, photographs, and prints that help me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress. My main current project is a novel tentatively entitled ANONYMITY. Its heroine works in publishing, belongs to a clandestine suffragist group, and has a married lover. Read on!

Click on images to see enlargements. In the text, click on words in color to activate links.

Selected Works

Fiction
An American woman art student meets a Civil War veteran in Belle Époque Paris.

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Picturing a World

Lone tenement

October 2, 2014

Tags: Bellows, New York landmark, apartments

The effects of rebuilding in Paris were very much in evidence when Jeanette arrived there in 1878. Even more visible were the effects of New York's growth in 1908. (more…)

Labor Day

September 1, 2014

Tags: Bellows, Henri, Sloan, publishing, workers

If you write historical fiction set in Progressive-Era New York City, there is a good argument for setting it a little later than 1908. The Masses, for instance, began publication in January 1911; and the great suffragist parades were staged in New York City in 1912 and Washington, D.C. in 1913 (with Inez Milholland on horseback). In 1908, however, the ideas, unrest, and hope for a better future that blazed out in the coming years were already stirring. To help me imagine what they felt and looked like from 1900 through World War I, I’ve just discovered a wonderful resource, The Modernist Journals Project from Brown University and The University of Tulsa. It supplied this iconic cover—and has complete digitized issues of several important magazines of the period. (more…)

Urban energy

August 18, 2014

Tags: Bellows, street scene (NYC), transportation

As I said in last Thursday’s post, Bellows' painting of a horse being brought under control conveys complex information and energy. It has attitude. It helps me imagine life in the city at the start of the 20th C. Can't you just feel how the cold, wet nastiness makes the frustrated driver’s task harder, the danger greater? The gaping child and other spectators are also reminders of the theatricality of life on the streets.

Jeanette is always conscious of her good fortune to be in beautiful Paris. Mattie is aware of the rawness and challenge of New York. What she finds in her city is power and newness, unending change and demand that she make herself over, make her life her own.

George Bellows was from Ohio. His eyes help me imagine how my Ohio character sees what is around her. For several more of his paintings of the city, click here.