Painting, Mixed Media

Feature: Keeping It Weird For The Holidays

  Revelry Gallery located at 742 E Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Revelry Gallery located at 742 E Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202

“Buy Local” has become a rallying cry in American communities in the last several years, and with good reason. As outlined by the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA), the impact on local economy is obvious, but that impact extends to environmental and philanthropic ideals that are equally important. Businesses that market the work of local artists may not be the first local business that comes to mind, but Revelry Boutique Gallery exemplifies the points in the LIBA checklist. All of its products are Kentucky-made, its gallery space has become a spotlight location for local artists, and the owner, Mo McKnight Howe, has emerged as a community leader who works tirelessly in support of cultural non-profits (full disclosure: Ms. Howe serves on the board of Louisville Visual Art). As the intense holiday shopping season is now upon us, it is important to take note of the range of local creations available. Three Revelry artists provide examples of the range of unique gifts available.

  "Scenes Of The Seasons" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Paintings, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 Each

"Scenes Of The Seasons" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Paintings, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 Each

Kevin Oechsli

For a holiday founded on the most sacred of events in Christianity, Christmas has become surprisingly characterized by lightness and humor. The debate that the holiday has become overwhelmed by materialism has continued for decades and will likely continue for decades more, but some that feeling is founded, appropriately, in the innocence of children. The good will and jolly tone of the iconic Santa Claus figure never fails to find welcome at this time of the year, and Santa always seems to have good sense of humor about himself. Artist Kevin Oechsli’ s perennial series “Scenes of the Season” takes full advantage of this quality by placing an uncharacteristically athletic St. Nick swimming underwater, surfing a high wave, or airborne on a snowboard. It should not come as any surprise that the generous and beneficent figure should enjoy himself to the fullest, but that he is never seen except in his traditional red and white costume just might.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 55

  "Three Wise Men (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 |  BUY NOW

"Three Wise Men (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 | BUY NOW

  "Santa, Sled, and R eindeer  (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 |  BUY NOW

"Santa, Sled, and Reindeer (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 | BUY NOW

  Various Works   by Wood & Twine, wood, string (2016)

Various Works by Wood & Twine, wood, string (2016)

Wood & Twine

An emphasis on “local” artists and craftspeople might not require motifs unique to Louisville, but perhaps it is inevitable that at the intersection of creativity and commerce we find community pride. Melody Niemann and Jessica England, who together form the team Wood & Twine, make no bones about their love for their hometown: “We feel that it is important to represent Louisville and its distinct culture in our artwork. This can be seen in pieces such as Kentucky, Louisville Skyline and Fleur de Lis. Our participation in the Louisville art scene, such as the Flea off Market, Deck the Walls, Cuteopia!, and local charity events, exemplifies the importance we place on giving back to the city that raised us.”

The simple appeal is not dissimilar to folk art, one of the virtues of which is the ability to connect on straightforward level with a wide audience. “Our artwork takes a very unique approach to utilizing raw materials. Using wood, nails and twine, we are able to create distinct pieces with an unprocessed and rustic, yet simple feel. Our work is very accessible to all, available in a variety of sizes and designs. And no two pieces are exactly the same, making each a one-of-a-kind staple for the home.”

Name: Melody Niemann and Jessica England (Wood & Twine)
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 23 and 25
Education: BA in Marketing, with Minors in Communications and Management, University of Louisville (both)
Website: https://www.instagram.com/woodntwine/

  “Louisville Skyline” by Wood & Twine, 16x12in, wood, string (2016), $75 |  BUY NOW

“Louisville Skyline” by Wood & Twine, 16x12in, wood, string (2016), $75 | BUY NOW

  “But First, Bourbon” by Wood & Twine, 6x8in, wood, string (2016), $35 |  BUY NOW

“But First, Bourbon” by Wood & Twine, 6x8in, wood, string (2016), $35 | BUY NOW

  “My Old Kentucky Home” by Wood & Twine, 8x6in, wood, string (2016), $35 |  BUY NOW

“My Old Kentucky Home” by Wood & Twine, 8x6in, wood, string (2016), $35 | BUY NOW

  "Inspiration Bracelets" by Gretchen Leachman

"Inspiration Bracelets" by Gretchen Leachman

Gretchen Leachman

Gretchen Leachman works in a variety of mediums, but the majority of her time is spent in jewelry design, mainly working with metal, wire, and gemstones. Some of the pieces are plaintive and understated, such as the necklace charms we see here, but others are more intricate and luxurious in their impact. “I pay close attention to creating pieces that will have meaning for the person wearing it,” explains Leachman.

She is currently involved in several pen & ink projects as well. “One of my current favorites involves collecting a series of words from family members about their home and family life … then using those words to depict a drawing of their house. Thoughts & feelings are the heart of what makes each home unique and loved, and I want to capture that as a reminder to those living there.”

“I love art. I always have. I fully support the theory that art should be fun and inspirational, and that is what I want to bring out in everything I do. It is my goal to make a connection with each individual, providing a small reminder of inner strength, joy and empowerment. Everyone has greatness and worth. Sometimes we just need a tangible reminder that we are, indeed, enough.”

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: SHA 1990; BA, Advertising, Western Kentucky University 1994
Website: http://www.GretchenLeachmanDesigns.com

  "Symbols Of Peace Made With Vintage Safety Pins" by Gretchen Leachman

"Symbols Of Peace Made With Vintage Safety Pins" by Gretchen Leachman

   " Hammered & Stamped Necklaces " by   Gretchen Leachman

"Hammered & Stamped Necklaces" by Gretchen Leachman

Other artists to be found at Revelry include painters Bob Lockhart, Julio Cesar, Melissa Crase, Ewa Perz, Joshua Jenkins, Erik Orr, and Gibbs Rounsavall, jewelry makers Rachael Erickson and Lindsay Hack, and household crafts by Ashleigh Anthony, DayNa Gliebe, Paul Nelson and Mark McGee, just to name a few.

  Mo McKnight Howe, Molly Huffman and Major Hanging Out At Revelry Gallery.

Mo McKnight Howe, Molly Huffman and Major Hanging Out At Revelry Gallery.

In Louisville, the Buy Local catchphrase is “Keeping Louisville Weird,” which captures the unique tone of the River City’s celebration of the individualism of locally owned businesses. Flair and eccentricity are part and parcel of the experience, in which the idiosyncratic personalities of the owners are a crucial part of the identity of the enterprise. When you visit Revelry this holiday season, you also will meet Mo, Molly, and Major (the official greeter), and that personal connection to the community they represent gives added value to the shopping experience and deeper meaning to the act of giving.


This Feature article was written by Keith Waits.
In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, www.Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.


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