‘It’s nice to spread joy’

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

‘It’s nice to spread joy’Not all trends associated with COVID-19 are bad. Despite the many restrictions that have hampered cultural and economic vitality, friends and neighbors in the Indian Wells Valley continue to find ways to elevate the spirits of those around them.

Take the Keehan and Kyte families, for example. Brandy (married to Matt) and Arwen (married to Collin), are both teachers. They have lived next door to each other for years, and have been friends even longer.

But their interactions have been more restricted since the coronavirus. Just recently, young Shelby Keehan, a 14-year-old freshman of Burroughs High School, decided to raid her mother’s chalk supply so she could decorate their driveway. Her attempt to bring cheer worked.

Among those captivated by her lifelike artwork was 9-year-old fourth-grader Ryan Kyte.

“When we were walking by, Ryan said, ‘Mom! It looks like you could just reach down and scoop it up!’” said Arwen.

Knowing his love of Marvel, Shelby snuck over to the Kyte’s to leave a lifesize drawing of Capt. America on their drive way.

“Shelby is just phenomenal,” said Ryan’s mother, Arwen. “She’s been an amazing young lady in our lives.”

Real-life friends have driven by and virtual friends have viewed, commented and shared Shelby’s artwork.

“This has definitely made Ryan the cool kid on the block!” said Arwen.

“He was pretty cool already,” said Shelby’s mother, Brandy.

She noted that her daughter is a bit of a Renaissance woman, excelling in music, dance, sports and academics.

Even though Shelby has had no art classes or formal training, she has always had an interest in the discipline, said her mother.

“I think the quarantine has actually been helpful for my art,” said Shelby. She has had more time and flexibility to spend developing her craft. She hopes to have room in her schedule to take art classes her junior and senior year of high school.

“One of the things that I really appreciate is that Shelby just decided to come over, without being asked, and do something for someone else,” said Arwen.

“It’s nice to spread joy, right?” Brandy said. “It’s hard being stuck inside. Particularly for the young kids, because a big part of their life revolves around being social.

“We’ve been trying to find ways to encourage people. And you can see around town that a lot of other people are doing that, too.”

Pictured: Although the slope of the driveway and angle of the lens slightly skew the perspective, Capt. America comes to life on the driveway of Ryan Kyte (right), thanks to the artistry of Shelby Keehan. — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-05-01