Retired school administrator turns artist

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2024 at 11:39 am

Keith Palmer creates images from wood-cut printing; Lift bridge print is fundraiser for Care Net

Photo by Tom Rivers: Albion native Keith Palmer holds a framed print of the lift bridge on Main Street in Albion that he made using a micro-chisel to carve into wood. He has 20 of the limited edition prints for sale with the proceeds to be given to Care Net of Greater Orleans. He is shown in Care Net’s Long Haul Gallery which opened a year ago.

ALBION – Since he retired as superintendent of Elba Central School about five years ago, Keith Palmer has moved from Albion with his wife Diane to Washington, DC to be closer to their adult children.

Palmer also has explored his artistic passion that he had sidelined during an busy career in public education. He also was a principal at Kendall and Pembroke.

Palmer took a silk-screen class in Washington, D.C. and enjoyed the class but his apartment in D.C. is too small to have equipment for silk-screen printing.

He then tried a wood-cut printing class at the Smithsonian. Palmer found he had a knack for using a micro-chisel to carve into wood in an old-time artform going back many centuries. Wood-cut printing also can be done at his kitchen table so space isn’t an issue.

“You need a steady hand and patience,” Palmer said.

He was back in Albion on Tuesday to drop off a framed print of the Main Street lift bridge in Albion. It will be sold by Care Net of Greater Orleans as a limited edition fundraiser. A framed print is $450, with the 10-inch by 22-inch print $300 without a frame.

Palmer spent about 175 hours on the project, carving the tiny details, including the lines between some of the sandstone blocks near the lift bridge. Once Palmer is done delicately carving into the wood, he puts ink on the surface and then prints it on paper, using the back of a spoon to press the paper against the carved wood block.

Care Net opened the Long Haul Gallery a year ago and the art work is sold to benefit the center. Wende Swick, the Care Net director, said the gallery so far has raised about $4,000 for Care Net, while also displaying some impressive works by artists.

Palmer was asked by his friend Marc O’Hearn to create a piece for Care Net. Palmer already is building a reputation in DC for his prints. He has been featured in the Washington Printmaker’s Gallery at Georgetown. One of his prints of his son Ryan’s cat was featured to promote an arts festival in Georgetown.

Palmer graduated from Houghton College with a teaching degree, and minored in art. He said he is grateful to use his art to help a cause in Albion.

“We like the city, but Albion will always be home,” Palmer said.

The Care Net center offers pregnancy testing, education and limited ultrasounds. Besides pregnancy testing and support, Care Net also offers STI testing and parenting classes for both males and females. Care Net also gives out material aid such as diapers, wipes, blankets and clothing up to size 24 months, when available.