Born in Philadelphia in 1920, Keene grew up in an era of activism and artistic experimentation. As a young student, he studied under the pioneering artist Allan Freelon, who helped to create a place for African American students in Philadelphia’s historic art institutions. Keene also became a teacher, and he later helped found the art department at Bucks County Community College, where he taught for nearly 20 years. In the 1940s and ‘50s, Keene traveled to France and Haiti, where the local art, brilliant color, and the prominence of dance impacted him profoundly. An interplay of lilting brushstrokes and radiant color conveys the vivacity of jazz and the cool sounds of a street quartet.


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