Documentary film “Gary Kelley - The Film” premiering this month at Gallagher BluedornRenowned illustrator and Cedar Falls artist Gary Kelley will be profiled in a world premiere film at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. 

“Gary Kelley” is a documentary profiling the career of one of Iowa’s most prolific artists. Despite Kelley’s reputation in the world of illustration and painting, he remains relatively unknown to many Iowans. His story of success, peer recognition and staying close to his Iowa roots is important to share with local audiences, as well as viewers across the state and beyond.

Documentary filmmaker and UNI Filmmaker-in-Residence David O’Shields led the creation of the documentary. Creative partner, Tristan Bennett, worked closely with O'Shields serving as producer, editor and post-production supervisor. O’Shields believes this film will be of interest to all Iowans, especially young artists aspiring to creative fields, as proof that artistic opportunities exist for talented, hard-working creatives right here in Iowa, and in the Cedar Valley, and not just in Los Angeles or New York City. 

“Gary is a national treasure,” O’Shields said. “It is important for Iowans as well as viewers across the country to understand that and appreciate Gary’s extraordinary contribution to our collective culture. This is why I made the film.”

Born in 1945, Kelley grew up in Algona, Iowa, and attended the University of Northern Iowa to study graphic design. 

He began his professional career in 1967 by accepting a position in the design department at Rath Packing Company and later as the art director for Hellman Associates in Waterloo, where he developed a reputation as one of the nation’s most creative and productive illustrators.

Kelley’s work has been seen in both national and international arenas, winning awards in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris and Italy. To date, he has won 29 medals from the Society of Illustrators as well as the distinguished Hamilton King Award. He has a large roster of clients, including Rolling Stone, Playboy, Atlantic Monthly, Time, Entertainment Weekly and Los Angeles Magazine, as well as poster designs and many advertising assignments. 

“Gary didn’t win all of those awards because he’s Gary Kelley,” said project supporter Scott Cawelti. “He won them because what he does has a profound impact on people. I believe this film will have that same impact.” 

The film’s premiere is free and open to the public. Please RSVP at  

The film will also be screened at schools, museums and cultural organizations in Black Hawk County. Gary will be present at some screenings and lead discussions. In addition, O’Shields is working with Iowa Public Television to secure statewide broadcast.

David O’Shields, Filmmaker-in-Residence, University of Northern Iowa,, 319-273-3791.


David O’Shields, UNI Filmmaker-in-Residence