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Wallpaper Scholar
65 South Prospect St.
Lee, MA 01238

(413) 243-3489
wscom@roadrunner.com

Biography and CV

Biography (personal and family)

Robert Michael Kelly, shown at right c. 1955 in front of a lovely dirt-cheap neo-rococo floral stripe, was born into a family of ten children. He attended parochial schools in Pittsfield, Massachusetts until the age of 14 when he entered the Society of the Divine Word, a German-based Catholic missionary order. He finished high school at Conesus, New York, and then went to Techny, Illinois. He taught guitar in youth programs at St. Anselm's, a parish on the south side of Chicago, during the tumultuous summer of 1968.

After leaving the order he played folk-rock music in St. Louis, Missouri and attended Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. After receiving an associate of arts degree in liberal studies, he enrolled at the State College at Lowell, Massachusetts, majoring in classical guitar and minoring in English. However, the world lost a budding Irish-American classical guitarist when he moved with his then girlfriend to Boulder, Colorado.

For a few months they joined a commune in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. After some interesting experiences, his alternative lifestyle ended with several days of stomach problems which were almost certainly caused by unclean water. The stomach survived, but not the relationship. He returned to civilization — and better drinking water.

He next assembled baby strollers at a Gerry Carrier plant in Boulder, and became adept at fitting small plastic bungs into the ends of cylindrical metal components. His next employment was house-painting.

He joined the painting crew of Roger Johnson, a transplanted butcher from Dubuque, Iowa, who landed some contracts for the housing tracts then springing up around Denver. When Kelly's aptitude for painting was evaluated, he was promptly fired. However, he talked his way back into employment and stayed with Johnson for about a year by which time he had saved enough money for a trip to Germany.

After tramping around Germany for a few weeks, he settled into washing dishes and living at the Hotel Peterhof across from the Munich city hall. He found a job painting houses and moved into an apartment in Schwabing. He bought the compact OED, wrote songs, and earned extra money as a street-singer in several Bavarian cities. While working as a house-painter he hung his first piece of wallpaper. By the way, Hitler was NOT a paperhanger. Canard.

He became fluent in conversational German and earned enough money in his two years there to start up a painting and decorating business after his return to America in 1976.

In January, 1977, he attended the U. S. School of Professional Paperhanging in Rutland, Vermont. He worked as a self-employed painter and paperhanger in Berkshire County for several years. In 1980 he attended the Isabel O'Neil School for the Art of the Painted Finish in New York City, and became proficient at several painted finishes. While in New York he began a long association with the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers.

In 1982 he returned to Berkshire County and married Mary Tyer of Lee. They settled in Lee. In 1986 they adopted Susan Sook Lee Kelly, who was born that year in Daegu City, South Korea.

Since 1986 he has specialized in consulting and installation services for reproduction and antique wallpaper in the historic house. A Paperology (list of publications, consulting projects and installations) is part of the academic and professional CV below (in pdf. format).

He remains a Roman Catholic and attends St. Mary's church in Lee. He maintains a blog about the Catholic religion,  and contributes articles to the website <www.Bishop-Accountability.Org>. In his leisure time he enjoys long-distance running and listening to opera.

 


Handtrimmed handjoined Adelphi blockprint borders and sidewall
installed in 2010 in the Salem Towne House hallway
at Old Sturbridge Village
(photo credit: Charles T. Lyle).

Curriculum Vitae:
(academic and professional) for Robert M. Kelly

 


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