“Colonial Revival Meets Dumpster Diver” House Tour: Ann Keech

First, take famed architect R. Brognard Okie,  who designed a Colonial Revival masterpiece for a young married couple in 1902.   (Paid for by the groom’s father, of course….)

15_12_01 1 Okie Inglenook_9287(This wonderfully inviting inglenook shows Okie’s love of woodwork and clever design.  With those big windows on the landing,  how did he hide the fireplace chimney?)

Next,  take Ann and Ev Keech,  who stumbled on the fixer-upper home just outside Philadelphia in 1977,  and began administering tender loving care while raising three children there.

15_12_01 2 Okie Dining Room_9305(Did we mention the elaborate woodwork?  And,  yes,  Okie carefully designed the fireplace columns to match those seen outside on the porch.)

Finally,  add furniture passed down from Ann and Ev’s families,  and top it off with an improbable  (and improbably right)  collection of assemblage art by Ann and her fellow Philadelphia Dumpster Divers and,  well…we can almost see Ann and Okie happily chatting over tea by the light of the home’s witty lamps.

15_12_01 3 Sara Benowitz_6024      15_12_01 4 Ellen Sall Lamp_6056

(A found-object “Reel Lamp” by Dumpster Diver Sara Benowitz illuminates a Barbara Bugliani art quilt. The table lamp at right is from Diver Ellen Sall’s “Tiny Tea Tables” series.)


Since launching our Unexpected Philadelphia website in June,  we’ve toured 7 imaginative homes belonging to our fellow Philadelphia Dumpster Divers – that merry band of found-object artists and collectors who have exhibited,  socialized and produced up-cycled art together since 1992.

Today,  we take you behind Ann and Ev’s front door….and out into their garden,  where the roses,  phlox and black-eyed susans are blooming.

15_12_01 5 Okie House_5473(Okie is famed for re-creating Pennsylvania farmhouses using native stone.  This is the view from the back garden.)


The daughter of a craft-loving single mom who created puppets and puppet shows,  Philadelphia  “Dumpster Diva”  Ann Keech is a found-object artist,  potter,  social activist,  and volunteer at venues like the city’s Please Touch Museum,  ArtWell,  and the Main Line Unitarian Church  (where she’s known as the  “clay lady”).

15_12_01 6 Ann Keech_9263(Ann making button flowers from her mother’s extensive – and fabulous – button collection.)

In her light-filled studio on the second floor,  Ann uses cast-off household and industrial objects,  clothing,  musical instruments,  toys,  paper,  and more to create unique works of assemblage art.

15_12_01 7 Ann Keech Art_9377    15_12_01 8 Ann Keech Bottle Figure_5393

(Ann’s pieces run the gamut from commentary on the Iraq War and the World Trade Center bombing,  to reminiscience and pure fun.)


So, let’s get going:  Simply click here to meet Ann and Ev,  and take a guided tour of their home,  yard and Ann’s studio.  Okie would definitely approve….

15_12_01 9 Ann Keech_9384(Ann at work in her studio.  Her saucy “Dumpster Diva” hat was a birthday present from fellow Diver Linda Lou Horn.)

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