October 6, 2012

Strong River. ~ Edward McKeever

*Editor’s note: elephant journal is pleased to support our friend, Edward McKeever and his company Strong River. Their commitment to sustainable and responsible business practices is an inspiration to us all. 

I was raised in the heart of Shambhala Buddhism (Boulder & Halifax) with two very devoted and passionate parents.

In 2006, I started a decorative art painting company called Strong River.

We are painters, plasterers and decorative artists for high-end home and business owners in Vancouver, New York City and the Gulf Islands; we use age-old decorative techniques with environmentally (and people) friendly paints and materials, to create unique spaces that embody their owner’s personality and bring additional equity to their spaces.

My vision is to build a guild of craftspeople, using products that enhance health and safeguards environment, to steward decorative traditions that make spaces beautiful.

This view was born out of having worked on the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya for several summers, as an artist. Working along side master Bhutanese sculptors and working on the main floor marble mosaic, I felt a broader sense of spiritual beauty.

Ten years earlier, as a child, I was allowed to lend a hand building the Japanese Kami Shrine; this inclusive and heartfelt encouragement was further bolstered by my friendship with Mr. Shaw, the Feng Shui advisor to Shambhala, prior to Eva Wong.

When I was twelve years old, he believed I had the potential to be a good, sensitive Feng Shui student. I visited him over my teenage years and although I never entered into formal training, I feel something was transmitted; an ability and sensitivity about energetic space awakened—but most importantly I became hyper connected to rivers, as a reflection of the health of a community.

We thrive or die on the health of our rivers.

During my training at Bard College in the Arts I learned about Pete Seeger and the ship called Clearwaterthis story of cleaning up one of the dirtiest rivers in America and the completion of my art training, gave birth to my company Strong River.

Our mission is simple:

* Keep the rivers clean; celebrate river keepers around the world

* Protect the health of my workers

* Leave the home I work in better than I found it: healthy & strong

* Educate my workers in Italy with my mentor Tonio Creanza

* Constant research and development in the coatings field

* Worldwide adventure education and networking

Sustainability needs to by aesthetically beautiful; cities like Amsterdam, Paris and Venice have always attracted me and the materials in those cities is even more fascinating. Limestone and linseed paint are two key examples—these recipes have data going back thousands of years.

The cancer epidemic of modern times is heart breaking and a Renaissance of these materials will create great improvements in health and well being; this gap in architecture training and construction training is the service my company fills. We fill it by hands-on training and sharing our network of innovators.

I am currently writing a book titled, “Authentic Painting and Plastering” due out fall 2013, which advocates healthy design and execution of the best methods that I’ve learned.

Overall, I bring these skills and insights to every job I work on; consulting has become a greater part of my job—retail clothing stores, nightclubs, restaurants and baby nurseries have all benefited from these ancient methods in recent years. We are also currently thinking of expanding to Hawaii and Belize and are looking for design/construction partners in those two areas.

My business is scalable and we are available to give educational lectures on the materials and practices we use. Everyone is welcome to train with us in Italy!


Edward McKeever is an interdisciplinary artist living in Vancouver and NYC. Educated at the renegade art school Bard College and a 2006 recipient of the Yale University Norfolk Arts Scholarship, McKeever is mainly known for his large abstract paintings. Currently researching the overlap between Romanticism and the great Canadian Arctic landscape, his intimate paintings, collages and etchings about the Polar Regions have traveled great distances. McKeever’s recent art film about icebergs entitled, “Gone Baby Gone,” premiered on a National Geographic expedition ship in Antarctica. The film also included an original score by First Nations cello player, Cris Derksen.

Inspired by artists like David Blackwood, RB Kitaj, Michelangelo, Diego Rivera, and Roberto Matta, McKeever’s fascination with large fresco mural work and detailed copperplate etchings is evident in his artwork. In the summer, he trains in Italy and works as a TA in traditional fresco restoration with www.messors.com. McKeever has traveled extensively for the last fourteen years studying and making art throughout much of China, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Italy, Germany, Scotland and the Netherlands. McKeever’s original artwork can be seen at www.edwardmckeever.com.



Editor: Bryonie Wise

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