Painting

Vignette: Devan Horton

"Allure" by Devan Horton, 48x48in, oil on canvas (2015) $1000 | BUY NOW

"Allure" by Devan Horton, 48x48in, oil on canvas (2015) $1000 | BUY NOW

Artists see differently than most other people. The play of light across a surface may reveal a texture otherwise taken for granted, or an object takes on a new meaning.

In her series, Apophenia, Devan Horton provides an example that illustrates this idea in straightforward and accessible terms. “I examine instances in which one can mistake randomness for recognizable figures or features,” explains Horton, “…such as a broken tree branch appearing as a bird in flight. Nature has always inspired my work in both concept and form. “

“The majority of my pieces are environmentally centered and are about naturally occurring phenomena or behaviors. In the past, I have used live subjects such as swarms of animals, insects, and plants to portray a more active idea, where my current work is comprised of dead matter that focuses on the elimination versus the addition of something new.“

"Charred" by Devan Horton, 16x16in, oil on panel (2016) $600 | BUY NOW

"Charred" by Devan Horton, 16x16in, oil on panel (2016) $600 | BUY NOW

Horton’s technique is fairly realistic, but the compositions capture these natural objects or creatures in an idiosyncratic fashion, allowing a point-of-view that would be very difficult to emulate on our own. The flies would never remain conveniently clustered for us to inspect so closely, except in Horton’s rich amber environment, which holds them in place as if they are trapped in honey.

"Encroach" by Devan Horton, 48x36in, oil on canvas (2015) $900 | BUY NOW

"Encroach" by Devan Horton, 48x36in, oil on canvas (2015) $900 | BUY NOW

“By playing with techniques that make these objects appear more attractive, my work most often revolves around changes in perspective and viewing that which we look at negatively in a new light. I used traditional mediums and compositional techniques in these pieces to create the delusion that what we are observing, regardless of the object itself, is beautiful. By constantly questioning and altering our perceptions of this beauty, these works open our minds to accept the nontraditional.”

Horton currently has a solo show running through February 11th at the Erlanger Kenton County Library in Erlanger, Kentucky.

Recent Exhibitions:
Metamorphosis Exhibition, Portland Art and Heritage Fair, LVA, Louisville, KY (Group Exhibition)
Forces of Nature, Artifact Gallery, Newport (Group Exhibition)
DIY Group Exhibition, Kalopsia, Covington, KY
Juried Exhibition, 2016 Evendale Fine Arts Exhibit, Evendale Cultural Arts Center Cincinnati, OH
Juried Exhibition (Lily Simonson, juror), Indiana University East, Art + Science, Richmond, IN

Age: 23
Hometown: Covington, Kentucky
Education: BFA, Painting, Northern Kentucky University, 2016; while in school participated in a study abroad to Rome and Florence Italy.
Website: http://www.devanhorton.com

"Fallen Branch" by Devan Horton, 16x16in, oil on panel (2016) $500 | BUY NOW

"Fallen Branch" by Devan Horton, 16x16in, oil on panel (2016) $500 | BUY NOW

"Poison" by Devan Horton, 12x12in, bleach on fabric (2016) $100 | BUY NOW

"Poison" by Devan Horton, 12x12in, bleach on fabric (2016) $100 | BUY NOW

"Roots" by Devan Horton, 16x16in, oil on panel (2016) $500 | BUY NOW

"Roots" by Devan Horton, 16x16in, oil on panel (2016) $500 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Fiber

Vignette: Kathleen Loomis


“My flags are somewhat the worse for wear.” Kathleen Loomis


"Fading" by Kathleen Loomis, 59x99in, fiber (2016) $8000 | BUY NOW

"Fading" by Kathleen Loomis, 59x99in, fiber (2016) $8000 | BUY NOW

Political art can be a misnomer; on some level all of art is, by its very existence, ‘political’, and more overt statements are often best realized in simple terms. In her most recent work, Kathleen Loomis has been working with the American flag, appropriate both in that she is a fiber artist, and that there is arguably no symbol that carries more emotional and thematic weight than the Red, White, and Blue.

"Flagging" by Kathleen Loomis, 98x54in, fiber (2016) $7000  | BUY NOW 

"Flagging" by Kathleen Loomis, 98x54in, fiber (2016) $7000  | BUY NOW 

“The flag is a stand-in for our country, so flags in distress convey feelings about the state of our democracy. Even beyond the disturbing recent elections, it seems that so many things in government and our legal system are going downhill. Maybe our nation and its democratic ideals aren’t as crisp and bright as they used to be; as a nation we are getting weary and have lost our mojo, so my flags are somewhat the worse for wear.”

Loomis’ statement may reveal a particular position, and the images are equally straightforward, yet they do not limit themselves by pointing to cause or solution. There are protocols for flying the flag that reinforce that it is also a vital tool for communication – flown upside down it is a symbol of distress to approaching forces, so co-opting it as a motif in visual art feels natural. “Kentucky Graveyard” and “Postage 3 Memorial Day” powerfully comment on the cost of freedom by echoing the flag-draped caskets of deceased military returning from foreign wars, while “More Equal Than Others” speaks to the inequity that has always been a struggle in American society. Loomis may have current events on her mind, but these themes are forever with us.

You can keep up with Loomis through a lively and informative blog on her website. Loomis joined Pyro Gallery in 2016, and is currently a part of the New Year, New Pyro Artists exhibit that runs through February 18, and will be participating in an Artist’s Gallery Talk there on Saturday, January 14, at 12:30pm.

"Fading" (detail)

"Fading" (detail)

Recent Exhibitions:
·      Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN, Dialogues, 2016
·      Dairy Barn, Athens, OH, and on tour throughout the US, Quilt National ’15, ’11, ’09, and ’03 (Quilts Japan Prize, 2009)
·      Jasper Arts Center, Jasper, IN, Annual Juried Art Exhibits, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2015 (award of merit), 2011, Best in Show, 2015).

Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan
Education: BA in Journalism, Syracuse University; MSJ Northwestern University
Website: http://kathleenloomis.com

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" by Kathleen Loomis, 71x60in, fiber (2006) NFS

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" by Kathleen Loomis, 71x60in, fiber (2006) NFS

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" (detail)

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" (detail)

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" by Kathleen Loomis, 86x100in, fiber (2008) NFS

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" by Kathleen Loomis, 86x100in, fiber (2008) NFS

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" (detail)

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" (detail)

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Vignette: James Bixler

"15 More Minutes" by James Bixler, 14x11in, relief print (2015), $100 | BUY NOW

"15 More Minutes" by James Bixler, 14x11in, relief print (2015), $100 | BUY NOW

“My affinity for the color black started when I started growing into myself,” states James Bixler. “I realized recently that my attraction to the color noir was because it is a grounding, calming color. It should come to no one’s surprise that I utilize black in most of my artwork.”

"Self Portrait" by James Bixler, 12x9in, digital media print (2015), $100 | BUY NOW

"Self Portrait" by James Bixler, 12x9in, digital media print (2015), $100 | BUY NOW

Included here is a self-portrait that shows Bixler emerging from liquid black; inky, impenetrable, and leaving a film on his skin, the image recalls at least one famous portrait of an African American immersed in milk, - a negative reversal of sorts. It somewhat obfuscates racial identity, blurring the lines of pigmentation by removing color and forcing the viewer to rely on the supple tones and textures of the black, white, and gray tones of the photographic medium.

The play of the viscous black liquid on Bixler’s skin also reminds us that he is a Tattoo Artist at Uncle Bob's Tattoo Studio and Body Piercing in Clarksville, Indiana. It should not be surprising that a working tattoo artist would study fine art, since the medium, once considered, at best, subversive, or, at worst, cheap and trashy, has become more and more accepted in the mainstream culture, with 1 in 5 Americans sporting one or more examples of skin art, and tattoo parlors now as likely as not including a gallery space.

The dense black also dominates Bixler’s upside down Ouija board print, which, alongside his drawing of a gracefully ‘unraveling’ human skull, is suggestive of the occult, and a preoccupation with the ephemeral spirit that once resided in the latter, and may communicate with us through the former; themes of identity and mortality that never feel exhausted because there is never a definitive answer.

Age: 26
Hometown: Scottsburg, Kentucky
Education: BFA candidate, Painting and Drawing, Kentucky College of Art and Design (KyCAD), Spalding University, Louisville, Kentucky

"Untitled" by James Bixler, 19x15in, dypoint print (2015), $100 | BUY NOW

"Untitled" by James Bixler, 19x15in, dypoint print (2015), $100 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Painting, Illustration, Mixed Media

Feature: Michael John Braaksma


“What I’m doing 25 or 30 years later is an echo of what I did as a four year old…”
– Michael John Braaksma


Michael John Braaksma in his studio. Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis for LVA.

Michael John Braaksma in his studio. Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis for LVA.

Michael John Braaksma is a sculptor, puppeteer, and a scenic and costume designer for theatre. In a curatorial statement, Braaksma described his practice; “His multidisciplinary approach to art-making blends drawing, painting, sculpture, illustration, puppetry, mask-making, theatrical design and art direction together to create spectacular visual narratives. Folk tales, oral narratives, and mythologies linking inhabitants with their land and culture are of particular importance to Michael’s work.”

Still from 'Unicorn Xing' Tyler McDAniel cinematographer. Puppets and Set by Michael John Braaksma.

Still from 'Unicorn Xing' Tyler McDAniel cinematographer. Puppets and Set by Michael John Braaksma.

He recently wrapped his first short film based around his puppetry, and is beginning to work on a children’s book. 

“I’m a visual story teller. That’s a description that fits the all encompassing approach to my work,” said Braaksma. 

In his studio, there are characters hanging from the walls; some are fully formed, some are just heads or faces. Many actually are puppets, but others are stand-alone art objects, some sized to be affordable at art fairs and events like the Flea Off Market.  Regardless of the artistic purpose of each character, they all seem ready to spring to life at any moment. “All my work has a strong sense of narrative,” said Braaksma. “They are all named, with rich back stories, and complex rationales as to why my little entities are here.”

The artist was born in Wisconsin, and comes to Louisville by way of Chicago, and time spent at Hope College in Michigan for a BA in scenic and costume design. In between Braaksma’s story takes a bit of a turn. “It’s essentially Mean Girls,” joked Braaksma, citing the popular film about a young American girl who grows up in Africa. 

"Memories of places I've never been" by Michael John Braaksma, 18x24in, acrylic on canvas, $400 | BUY NOW

"Memories of places I've never been" by Michael John Braaksma, 18x24in, acrylic on canvas, $400 | BUY NOW

“When I was two, my parents decided they loved Jesus a lot, and became missionaries. They move the family to the Kenya-Somalia border, with no electricity or running water.” Braaksma lived in Kenya from age two to age nine and he says the time affected him greatly. “I’m doing some clay sculpture right now and it ties me back, there was a seasonal river where all the local children would sculpt animals, so what I’m doing 25 or 30 years later is an echo of what I did as a four year old kid in remote Africa.”

Braaksma believes in free sculpting each piece rather than casting his work. “I do everything free sculpting. Especially for the work I do, and the voice of the characters I’m drawing out, the idea of each form having its own shape and angle,” said Braaksma as he worked on a series of small unicorns he was preparing.  “Even though the work I’m doing now is related, it’s unique in a way, and I think there is a movement to those precious things.”

"Celestial Nymph" by Michael John Braaksma, 12x10x6in, paper mache, fur, found objects, $300 | BUY NOW

"Celestial Nymph" by Michael John Braaksma, 12x10x6in, paper mache, fur, found objects, $300 | BUY NOW

Braaksma says “precious things,” and one can almost hear the capital letters; his ideas about precious things key into his belief that there is a reaction to large corporation and the “Big Box” lives of many Americans. They want smaller hand made items - Precious Things. 

In addition to informing his practice of sculpture, Braaksma says his time in Kenya changed the way he imagined. “Being so young and having such totally different extreme experiences of reality, it sort of shapes the imagination and what you see as possible. Reality and your existence seems more fluid when you’re used to stretching your brain at an early age, being bilingual and all that.”

"Wilbur the octopus" by Michael John Braaksma, 16x20in, mixed media on canvas, NFS

"Wilbur the octopus" by Michael John Braaksma, 16x20in, mixed media on canvas, NFS

For his recently wrapped short film, Braaksma, worked with local filmmaker Tyler McDaniel. Braaksma says the film reflects his own inner life. “It’s funny, but there’s some cynicism, as makers, people interested in our own narratives and our own sense of value, do we lose the context of seeing our selves as directional, are we missing the boat on where we’re going? I feel that way.” He added, “Sometimes my world become small and isolated.”

Braaksma believes that strong images, such as the handmade creatures and characters of his work, are necessary to reach modern audiences. “Strong visuals are so critical for pounding through this facade, the sarcasm or cynicism, or dismissive nature of story telling that has erupted because of our over exposure to constant media.” 

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 32
Education: BA in Theatre, emphasis in costume & design, Hope College, MI
Website: https://lamaland.carbonmade.com/

"Terrence the Turtle" by Michael John Braaksma, 5x7in, acrylic on paper, $100 | BUY NOW

"Terrence the Turtle" by Michael John Braaksma, 5x7in, acrylic on paper, $100 | BUY NOW


Eli-Keel.jpg

This Feature was written by Eli Keel.
Eli Keel is a Louisville based freelance journalist focused on arts and culture. Nationally he’s written Salon.com, The MarySue.com, Howlround.com, and Pointe Magazine out of New York. Locally he’s written for Louisville Public Radio’s news division, both the radio and the web (wfpl.com), Insiderlouisville.com, LEO Weekly and Leoweekly.com. He’s also contributed to Louisville Magazine, The Voice Tribune, Modern Louisville, Churchill Downs Magazine, arts-louisville.com, and thecoffeecompass.comHe also writes plays.


Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Drawing

Vignette: Mike McCarthy

“Loyal” by Mike McCarthy, 5.25x7.75in, hand colored print (#1), $40 | BUY NOW

“Loyal” by Mike McCarthy, 5.25x7.75in, hand colored print (#1), $40 | BUY NOW

Mike McCarthy is a sculptor who works primarily with stone, but the restlessness that is familiar to most artists, combined with recent travels that included the inevitable time in airports and hotels prompted him to begin sketching again on paper. “On my first trip out of town, I brought 2 small rocks to carve while in the hotel,” he explains. “Needless to say, the dust that is created from carving, even with just files, was too much. So I put the stone away and got out my sketchbook.”

This “Hotel Series” uses subject matter consistent with McCarthy’s three-dimensional work: animals – lions, horses, birds…but the highly developed sense of form is deemphasized to make room for linear pattern and a dense, collage-like layering of visual elements.

“I started doing just sketches, but soon those sketches turned into different collages and completed drawings. These drawings were either pen and ink or pencil, but all of them are black and white. I really liked the collages but many times the details would get a bit confusing; I needed a way to help clarify the elements. I decided color might be an option. Color has always intimidated me, because I am color-blind. In fact, the only time I ever received an F in school was for painting a figure green that I was totally convinced I had painted the correct color.

“Koi Pond” by Mike McCarthy, 8x10in, hand colored print (#2), $65 | BUY NOW

“Koi Pond” by Mike McCarthy, 8x10in, hand colored print (#2), $65 | BUY NOW

But I know it really helps people differentiate objects. I decided to just randomly fill in different parts of the drawing with what ever color pencil I picked up and not worry about if it was the “right” color. Many times, I only know things are different colors because the pencil says so. Much of the color looks the same to me. I wasn't sure how the process would work so I decided to have some prints made of the original black and white drawings done so I wouldn't ruin them and then add color to the prints. The cool thing is that I can experiment with a variety of different colors on the same drawing. If I don't like one, I don't have to start from scratch. It has been an interesting experience to see the reaction.”

“Butterflies!” by Mike McCarthy, 8x10in, hand colored print, $65 | BUY NOW

“Butterflies!” by Mike McCarthy, 8x10in, hand colored print, $65 | BUY NOW

McCarthy doesn’t apologize for his color choices, nor should he; subjective use of color is a tradition of modern art since the beginning of the twentieth century. These drawings have a free and spontaneous quality that combines assured craftsmanship with a renewed sense of discovery. If one of the unspoken goals of the adult artist is to reawaken a child-like sense of discovery, McCarthy’s exploration of an approach that is a distinct contrast from his better-known work seems to succeed in part by doing exactly that.

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Age: 49
Education: BA in Fine Arts, Bellarmine University
Gallery Representative:  PYRO Gallery and Revelry Boutique Gallery (Louisville), KY Artisan Center (Berea)
Website: http://www.mikemccarthysculptor.com

“Bird Collage” by Mike McCarthy, 9x14in, hand colored print (#2), $75 | BUY NOW

“Bird Collage” by Mike McCarthy, 9x14in, hand colored print (#2), $75BUY NOW

“Horse Collage” by Mike McCarthy, 7x9.5in, hand colored print (#5), $50 | BUY NOW

“Horse Collage” by Mike McCarthy, 7x9.5in, hand colored print (#5), $50 | BUY NOW

“Dog Collage” by Mike McCarthy, 8x10in, hand colored print (#2), $65 | BUY NOW

“Dog Collage” by Mike McCarthy, 8x10in, hand colored print (#2), $65 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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