Germaine Claire Keller, 77, an artist, art director, educator, gallerist and former resident of Garrison Landing, passed away on March 7, 2016, at the Westminster Retirement Community in Austin, Texas, after an aggressive battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Germaine was born in Detroit and attended Fordson High School there. She married and had three children, then earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from Wayne State University in sculpture and painting.
In 1977 she moved to New York City, where she taught at Parson’s School of Design and New York University, and was a recipient of numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a MacDowell Fellowship, an Athena Foundation Grant and a Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) grant. She was also employed as an art director at The Wall Street Journal. She participated in many gallery shows and public installations, eventually opening her first gallery, St. Mark’s Position, in 1994. There she found her life’s work, curating shows and providing a venue for the discourse of modern art.
Actively engaging in that conversation was a deeply rewarding experience for Germaine, and from 1999 to 2005 she operated the Germaine Keller Gallery on Garrison Landing after relocating there. Germaine was loved and respected by many in the Philipstown area for her grace, energy, enthusiasm and intelligence, showing many local and nationally known artists and helping to create a vibrant local arts community.
In 2004 she moved to Austin to be near her daughters. There she taught at Austin Community College and Laguna Gloria and opened the 1305.3 Position Gallery in 2008. Germaine’s work was acquired by numerous individuals and museums, among them Museum of Modern Art Archives, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Port Authority of NY and NJ, Sol LeWitt and the Detroit Institute of Art. Additionally, her work was shown at the Austin Museum of Art, Women and Their Work (gallery) Laguna Gloria Museum, Marfa, the Grand Rapids Museum of Art, the Kunstverein Firma Paradigma (Linz, Austria) and the Natalie Knight Gallery (Johannesburg, South Africa).
Germaine’s survivors include three children — Sherry Keller of Austin; Bradford Keller of New York City; Dr. Cynthia Playfair (and husband, Dr. Paul Playfair) of Austin; two granddaughters — Emily Playfair and Katherine Playfair of Austin; a sister, Beverly Hedden of Cottonwood, Arizona, and a brother, John Goike (and wife Sharon Goike) of St. Clair, along with many nieces and nephews. Germaine also wanted to acknowledge her lifelong companion and fellow artist, Claude van Lingen, a large presence in her life and the community.
A memorial service will be held in the coming months. (For information, email [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]) In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the MacDowell Colony, 163 E. 81st St., New York, NY 10028, or online at macdowellcolony.org.