"Awkward Small Talk" by local artist Kelly Witte was displayed in the exhibit "A Professor's Legacy: Students of David V. Holmes" at UW-Parkside.

Artist Kelly Witte exemplifies versatility

From hand-sewn brooches to murals, Parkside graduate has a lot to offer


Brown is a designer, painter, media creative, public artist, image creator/consultant and espresso-lover. Never defined by a place or a label, the Kenosha native has traveled the globe exploring design in several cultures.

If you’ve ever taken a cruise through downtown Kenosha, you’ve probably seen some artwork from local artist Kelly Witte. Her signature style of bright, bold, and daring use of color is laced through the downtown area from the Kenosha Area CVB all the way down to the Pierhead Lighthouse. 

After graduating from the UW-Parkside with a BA in Studio Art, Witte has navigated the art scene with both public and solo projects. She considers herself to be a two-dimensional artist with a focus on painting, printmaking, and drawing.

“I would love to have an opportunity to create a huge mural, a series of large-scale paintings, or even a fashion line,” she said. 

“Sweet Sixteen, Mom circa 1968” is from artist Kelly Witte’s “All in the Family” collection.

A self-proclaimed maximalist, Witte is constantly looking for ways to expand and explore her preferred media.

“I’ve also been exploring the use of fabric in my artwork and create kitschy hand-sewn brooch pins,” she said. “This then led me to creating hand-sewn soft sculptures.”

Pieces from her hand-sewn brooch pin collection, and more of Witte’s other art, can be found at Artworks Gallery, 4513 Sheridan Road, where she “switches up her inventory regularly.”

While brooches may be the smallest-scale art she creates, Witte’s murals are undoubtedly the largest. She has completed five murals in Kenosha and is hoping to complete even more.

“(This collection) pays homage to and celebrates the women in my family who were positive influences on me as I grew into womanhood.”

– Kelly Witte, on her “All in the Family” collection

“A few years ago, I wanted to start working on a larger scale and I caught a case of mural painting fever,” Witte said. “Painting murals was a new way for me to share my creativity with the community while challenging myself to try something new.”  

No stranger to public art, she has participated in Downtown Racine Corporation’s public art event every year since 2004 and was a featured artist for Downtown Kenosha’s Keyed Up! Painted Piano Installation. 

When she’s not doing large-scale art and public projects, you can find Witte painting in her studio. Most recently, she completed a new series of paintings entitled, All in the Family.

“(This collection) pays homage to and celebrates the women in my family who were positive influences on me as I grew into womanhood,” Witte said. “It gave me the opportunity to browse old family photo albums and feel nostalgic for times I wasn’t even alive for.”

Witte admits that being an artist can be difficult, but persistence and discipline are the keys to success, among other things.  She encourages beginners to not to give up easily and be organized.

“I find that reorganizing my studio reinvigorates me,” she said. “The act of sorting my supplies helps reignite that creative spark.”

“Senior High Sweetheart, Aunt Carol circa 1963” is from artist Kelly Witte’s “All in the Family” collection.

In the same way she was encouraged by her university professors, Witte hopes to encourage others as well.

“I would tell someone who is thinking about working on their own art is to just go for it, have fun and enjoy the process,” she said. “Feel free to explore different materials and styles. ​A​nd never limit yourself!​”

Witte has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally and has an upcoming online show with Kenosha’s LeFreakArtSalon.com beginning Feb. 1. More of her work can be found on her Instagram account @KellyWitteArt.