Page 1 from BJ Kieth - One Artist's Odyssey, written by Linnie Aikens
When most little girls fancied dolls in the 1940's and 1950's, this mechanically-inclined little girl's favorite "toys" were tools, her own tool box, and her box of paints. She idolozed her father, a master carpenter, electrician and unofficial architectural designer, who kept her supplied in oil paints, canvases, soft white pine and hand tools. An accomplished equestrian at a young age, most of her early paintings featured horses. She later graduated to power tools and a welder and learned to create abstract metal sculpture while she earned her studio art degree at Cal State University in Los Angeles.
BJ Keith had returned to college at age 32, after her four daughters where in school, and earned her BFA from CSULA. She completed all of her work to receive her masters at the same school, however the art professors in charge of the department at the time refused to confer the degree upon her in 1982 because they contended that the work was "just too good--too professional" and that "she couldn't possibly have done it on her own." Later, her college-bound granddaughter was outraged when she had heard the story, but BJ winked at her and said, "You don't need revenge when you've achieved success!"
BJ's life as a metal sculptor was certainly a success story.
BJ learned to weld while creating a two-foot old fashioned canopener, which she showed to Jerry Fels. Fels and his partner, Curtis, founded the C.Jeré line of metal sculpture at Artisan House, Curtis, being the business side, and Jerry being the designer, thus; C.Jeré. BJ's canopener, which was remade as a four-foot piece, became the centerpiece of an oversized kitchen line, which she designed under the name of C.Jeré. 35 years later, these pieces are still being sold, although she quickly moved into more non-objective pieces of metal art. It is these fine art, non-objective metal sculptures, under the name of C. Jeré, for which she is most well known. Jerry had told her that he'd seen a genius in her and took her under his wing as his protogé.
Even today, 90% of the non-objective fine art sculptures are by BJ using the nom de plume of C.Jeré.
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