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Victorian Photos Reimagined

Bay Area artist Eric Kelly exhibited his work in a historic mansion during Marin Open Studios

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Eric Kelly Exhibition

Regular readers of The Steampunk Explorer are likely familiar with the work of Eric Kelly, who transforms Victorian-era photographs into surreal portraits and dreamscapes. He describes it as “Early Photography Reimagined,” and it’s been shown at the Edwardian Ball in San Francisco as well as numerous Bay Area galleries.

Last month, he had an opportunity to display his work in a unique setting: Falkirk Mansion, a 19th century Queen Anne-style structure that sits on an 11-acre estate in downtown San Rafael. His goal was “to have a conversation of sorts between my artwork and the historic space.” He was one of three artists with exhibitions in the mansion, all held as part of Marin Open Studios.

Shortly after the exhibition, he made a major score for his photo collection, winning an eBay auction for an original 19th century carte de visite (photo print) of the Steam Man. The steam-powered robot, created by Zadoc Dederick and Isaac Grass in the 1860s, later inspired The Steam Man of the Prairies, which is believed to be the first U.S. science fiction dime novel.

Here’s a look at the Marin Open Studios exhibition, with a Steam Man photo slipped in. See the artist’s website for more info.


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