Sculpture

Public Art, Sculpture

Vignette: Matt Weir's Statue of Colonel William Oldham

 Sculptor Matt Weir at the July 21st unveiling.

Sculptor Matt Weir at the July 21st unveiling.

After more than three years of work, Matt Weir’s statue of Colonel William Oldham was unveiled on July 21, 2018. The 7-foot bronze and limestone statue, positioned in front of the Oldham County Courthouse, was introduced to the public as part of Oldham County Day festivities.

Weir was commissioned by Judge-Executive David Voegele to create what is, surprisingly, the first public art in the county. Oldham County was named after Colonel Oldham, who served in the Kentucky militia and was killed during the Revolutionary War

In an article about the issues surrounding public art published in Arts-Louisville.com just one year ago, Weir discussed the work, then in progress:

“There is a sense that he (Oldham) would have likely served as a public official if he had lived,” Weir says. “It’s unclear exactly how they came to name the county after him, but there is really no public sculpture in Oldham County, and Judge Voegele wanted to change that, and this seemed like a good place to start.”

 Wier photographing Will Oldham at Locust Grove. Photo: Brian Bohannon.

Wier photographing Will Oldham at Locust Grove. Photo: Brian Bohannon.

There were no previous likeness of the Colonel for Weir to use as reference, so musician and songwriter Will Oldham, a descendant of the Colonel, was a crucial participant in the development, posing in a Revolutionary War uniform complete with saber and musket while Weir exhaustively photographed him from every conceivable angle, and allowing a wax casting of his face to be used as reference in the final rendering of the figure.

 Weir in his studio with Will Oldham. Photo: Elsa Oldham.

Weir in his studio with Will Oldham. Photo: Elsa Oldham.

Unlike so many historical military statues, the uniformed figure is positioned closer to the ground, an accessible monument that reflects the contemporary aesthetic of bringing history into an easier relationship with everyday life. The open right hand fairly invites visitors to grasp it.

The installation includes an historical display with details about Colonel Oldham’s life and a plaque listing donors will be mounted on an outside wall of the courthouse. The historical display will also list the names of Revolutionary War soldiers who are likely buried in Oldham County.

The statue was cast and fabricated by Falls Art Foundry in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville, which was established by Weir, Tamina Karem, and Scott Boyer in early 2017.

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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy Matt Weir except where noted.

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Sculpture

Vignette: Mack Dryden

You may have heard of Mack Dryden the professional comedian, actor, and public speaker, but in recent years he has embraced a new creative outlet: sculpture made from driftwood.

 "Water Dance" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood & poplar, 2017, POR

"Water Dance" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood & poplar, 2017, POR

What Dryden calls, “this new, odd passion” has its roots in his experiences as a reporter for a daily newspaper, which included illustrating his own stories. He was good enough to eventually make a living as a freelancer in Key West drawing cartoon advertising art. In 2010, he moved to Louisville after living for several years in Los Angeles.

“I’ve been handy all my adult life,” claims Dryden, “ and have made loads of furniture and other practical things. So this melding of my love of working wood and creating a pleasing composition is kind of a natural progression. As I write this, the Ohio is so high from recent rains that the banks are under ten feet of water in places that usually yield beautiful finds.  I’m counting the days until the water recedes, revealing what mother lode of masterpieces it has brought me this time.”

“The first time I walked, crawled and climbed through the tons of driftwood deposited on the banks of the park, I marveled at the treasures that were there for the taking. I found gorgeous pieces that had been sculpted by the environment where they’d grown, reduced to their essence by their journeys downriver, and burnished by the elements until they became—to my aesthetic—finished pieces of art. I saw no reason to try to improve on their inherent beauty, but rather was inspired to find ways to reveal it to the world.”

“I was encouraged when my very first attempt was juried onto our front porch by my wife Teri, an accomplished abstract artist who doesn’t curate casually.”

 "Black Water Chorale" by Mack Dryden,Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

"Black Water Chorale" by Mack Dryden,Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

“Curious about what might be inside some of the pieces I brought home, I ripped a few on my table saw and found spectacular colors and grains. After a couple of early experiments, I kicked myself for using tinted stains and resolved to use only clear products that would enhance the natural colors of the wood.”   

Dryden’s description of his journey of creative discovery succinctly answers the question, what does it mean when an artist labels themselves “self-taught”? He has entered a genre that is an easy target for high-minded critics, but it seems to be exactly the point for Dryden. “I happened on a photo of what I considered a hideous driftwood chandelier, it inspired me to try to make a beautiful one.”  

Dryden’s chandeliers now hang in half a dozen shops, restaurants and bars in the Louisville area, and he has had his work featured in several locations:  

The Outsider Art Fair, New York City, 2016
Art Santa Fe, NM, 2017Craft(s) Gallery, Louisville, KY
Revelry Boutique Gallery, Louisville, KYTrue North, New Albany, IN
Madison Table Works, Madison, IN
Great Flood Brewing Company, Louisville, KY

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Hometown: Pascagoula, Mississippi
Education: BA, English and Journalism,University of Mississippi (Ole Miss); MFA, Creative Writing at the Center For Writers, University of Southern Mississippi
Website: Riverborneart.com

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 "Six-Mile Island" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR 

"Six-Mile Island" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR 

 "Bayou Bash" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River Driftwood,  2017, POR

"Bayou Bash" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River Driftwood,  2017, POR

 "Jitterbug" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

"Jitterbug" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

 "Inside Out" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

"Inside Out" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Sculpture

Feature: Ewing Fahey

 Ewing Fahey & Caren Cunningham in 2014. Photo: Rich Copley/Lexington Herald Leader

Ewing Fahey & Caren Cunningham in 2014. Photo: Rich Copley/Lexington Herald Leader

                   Based on material from Caren Cunningham and Suzanne Mitchell

When does an ongoing reality become a tradition? Enid Yandell’s Daniel Boone Sculpture dates from 1915, meaning the history of noted women sculptors in Louisville is more than 100 years old. Certainly that qualifies as a tradition?

But it takes more than the passage of time, it takes a chain of individuals who, whether aware of it or not, maintain an ideal through a continuous series of actions. For the tradition of women sculptors working in Louisville, the strongest and most vital link in that chain is Ewing Fahey.

Her mother was a pioneer in the field of special needs education, but her father died when Fahey was nine years old. Despite the hardship of the death of three other family members, they travelled to Chautauqua, NY for ten weeks every summer. Fahey grew up attending lectures, concerts, and exhibitions, and Chautauqua has remained a regular summer adventure.

 "Ceremonial Object" by Ewing Fahey, Cow bone & painted wood base, 2011. 

"Ceremonial Object" by Ewing Fahey, Cow bone & painted wood base, 2011. 

Fahey graduated from the University of Louisville in 1942, at the age of nineteen, with a double major in Fine Arts (painting and drawing) and Art History. Her Art History professor was Justus Bier, a recent German emigre, scholar, and expert in contemporary art. He was an important influence on her, encouraging Fahey’s love of art, architecture, travel, and lifelong learning and thinking. 

It was during her senior year that Fahey became the editor of the University’s Cardinal newspaper, the first woman to hold that position. That journalistic experience led to her being hired as the first female reporter for WAVE Radio (television was still a few years in the future). She also taught art, first at the Louisville Girl’s School, and then at a middle school where she worked with approximately 750 students each week. It was 1946, and the classrooms were heated with wood-burning, pot-bellied stoves.

 "The Turrets" by Ewing Fahey, The Highlands Island designed by Suzanne Rademacher, 1990

"The Turrets" by Ewing Fahey, The Highlands Island designed by Suzanne Rademacher, 1990

That same year, Fahey took off for New York City to work as a copywriter for McCalls Pattern Sales and later became an Art Director for Norcross Greeting Cards. When Fahey returned to Louisville, in 1953, it was to become the first female Advertising Manager at Louisville Magazine, and within two years she had become editor. She was still in her early 30’s. 

If Fahey was a trailblazer in breaking the glass ceiling for women in so many positions, was it because of the times, or was she destined to be an iconoclast? Her independence seems confirmed by her decision, on the eve of her marriage, to spend several weeks traveling through Europe by herself in order to see firsthand all of the art and architecture she has studied while in school. There are so many firsts in her history, and she returned to her fine art roots at the age of 56, becoming a sculptor of the most unforgiving materials, learning to carve wood and limestone and working outdoors in all climates.

In 1998, she helped form ENID, a collective of women sculptors named in honor of celebrated Louisville sculptor Enid Yandell (1869-1924), who studied in Paris with Auguste Rodin and Frederich MacMonnies and was only the second female to be inducted into the National Sculpture Society. The group shows about once every two years, and their most recent exhibition was at PYRO Gallery in 2017.

Eighteen members of ENID were featured in that exhibition, including Leticia Bajuyo, Gayle Cerlan, Caren Cunningham, Jeanne Dueber, Linda Erzinger, Ewing Fahey, Sarah Frederick, Fran Kratzok, Valerie Sullivan Fuchs, Mary Dennis Kannapell, Paula Keppie, Shawn Marshall, Suzanne Mitchell, Joyce Ogden, Jacque Parsley, Emily Schuhmann, Gloria Wachtel, and Melinda Walters.

 "Ancient Reliquary" by Ewing-Fahey, Gilded cattle bones and glass, 2011

"Ancient Reliquary" by Ewing-Fahey, Gilded cattle bones and glass, 2011

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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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Sculpture, Mixed Media

Vignette: Bill Fischer Prize Recipient Elizabeth Hardy

“I believe it is my responsibility as an artist to work to communicate the incommunicable…” – Elizabeth Hardy

 "Bison Mystic," by Elizabeth Hardy, hand-dyed fiber, grown-crystal, plaster, stone, mixed media armature, 3 x 2.5 x 2.5in, 2016

"Bison Mystic," by Elizabeth Hardy, hand-dyed fiber, grown-crystal, plaster, stone, mixed media armature, 3 x 2.5 x 2.5in, 2016

The Community Foundation of Louisville, in partnership with Louisville Visual Art, has presented Louisville-based sculptor and designer, Elizabeth Hardy, with the first annual Bill Fischer Prize for Visual Art.

On her website, Hardy includes this declaration: “Elizabeth works to curate & cultivate aesthetically keen experiences across visual disciplines, inviting viewers to indulge in romantic collaborations with the natural world.” It points to a broader embrace of art and design in various contexts, and the rest of her site vividly illustrates the point, showing the artist’s work in many commercial channels. The lines of demarcation between art and design, fine art and commercial work, are forever shifting, as artists like Hardy navigate the overlap of creative spaces in the culture.

Yet the Fischer Prize recognizes the “fine art” produced by Hardy, and however slick and professional the images online may be, she is also immersed in the hard, knuckle-breaking work of carving stone and constructing mixed media sculpture, working in a modest room during winter – in the warmer climate she moves her carving outside, under a tent.

Since earning her BFA in 2012, Hardy has traveled for residencies in stone carving:

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2015 - Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in Rutland, Vermont.

2016 - Green Olive Artist Residency in Tetouan, Morocco.
         - Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in Rutland, Vermont.

2017 - Tuscany Study Stone Sculpture Workshops at Corsanini Studio in Carrara, Italy.

Her installations and soft material sculptures combine contrasting sensibilities, the communication through three-dimensional form and space with the polish and craftsmanship of a commercial designer.  Hardy explains: “I am interested in producing work that honors the legacy of classic sculptural techniques which stand the test of time, married with a contemporary, experimental style that defies convention.”

“My work seeks to stir nostalgia for the primordial past and sublime in nature, via
romantic collaborations with the natural world. Whether through carving marble (a material consisting of interlocking crystals made by generations of petrified
tiny creatures slowly compressed by gravity at the bottom of a primordial sea), or
through growing crystals as surface treatment, the role of natural phenomena as
process is consistently present in sculptural works and installations. Beyond my
attraction to such processes that emphasize time passage - translating
ephemeral makings into enduring works that can speak to our past and present
for years to come.”

Hardy plans to use her prize money, "to provide a suitable environment with tools to establish a space to be able to create works on a larger scale than I am physically capable of doing with the restrictions of my current studio space. I could expand my practice for my own productions as well as have a proper venue to function as a learning environment that I could share the techniques I have learned with others."

 Marble bust in Hardy's studio

Marble bust in Hardy's studio

The Bill Fischer Award for Visual Artists is a $5,000 cash prize designed to make a meaningful impact on the career of a visual artist residing in the Louisville Metro Area by providing support in the form of grants for the execution and exhibition of artwork and other efforts to foster a professional career as a visual artist. Recipients of the Fischer Prize must show a commitment to experimentation and the creative use of materials and techniques, and a commitment to pursuing a career as a professional working visual artist.

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The Award is funded by the Artist Bill Fischer Foundation for Working Artists at the Community Foundation of Louisville. Louisville Visual Art serves as the administrative partner to the project and competition process.

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Education: BFA, Sculpture, Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 2012
Website: www.elizabethhardy.work
Instagram: elizabethianne

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 "Western Reverie" by Elizabeth Hardy, fiber, grown crystal, mixed media armature. 10 x 8 x 7in, 2016-2017

"Western Reverie" by Elizabeth Hardy, fiber, grown crystal, mixed media armature. 10 x 8 x 7in, 2016-2017

 "Lair" by Elizabeth Hardy, grown-crystal, fiber, plaster, stone, crystallized moss, mixed media, 10 x 12 x 6ft, 2016

"Lair" by Elizabeth Hardy, grown-crystal, fiber, plaster, stone, crystallized moss, mixed media, 10 x 12 x 6ft, 2016


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Sculpture, Glass

Vignette: Whitney "Bloom" Olsen

“The optical quality of glass is my muse,” – Whitney “Bloom” Olsen.

 "Rosy Retrospection" by Whitney Olsen in collaboration with Keegan Kruse, Light refraction photos, 7 - 22x22in frames, 2017, $500 each

"Rosy Retrospection" by Whitney Olsen in collaboration with Keegan Kruse, Light refraction photos, 7 - 22x22in frames, 2017, $500 each

Whitney Olsen, aka as Bloom, is a multi-dimensional artist working with glass, light, mixed media and “…multiple dimensions to indulge in the conversation of being.” If your first thought of glass art takes you to a place of vessels, Bloom’s work will upend those expectations.

“My work exists in the intersection between the corporeal and the imagination, where the fixed and infinite collide through tangible and intangible layers of energy. The optical quality of glass is my muse, translating our ephemeral understanding of the here and now through veiling multiple materials. Illusion is the gateway into my liminal world…”

 "Absolute #3" by Whitney Olsen, Mixed media on wood, 58x30in, 2017, $1500

"Absolute #3" by Whitney Olsen, Mixed media on wood, 58x30in, 2017, $1500

Bloom’s glass pieces are most often components in larger installation sculptures in which light is an active medium. The glass becomes a lens almost as assuredly as if we were peering through a kaleidoscope, and the work begins to shape the viewer’s perception of the environment the piece occupies.

“There is an energy that we possess that feels like butterflies fluttering inside us, it feels like we are going up to the top of a roller coaster. It’s an unsettled, scary but thrilling, anxiety that is beautiful and basic, and it’s so real because it’s your body telling you that you are alive. It’s called passion; the moment when you finally go outside of your comfort zone and you really start to listen to what you want, and you go for it. To be dangerous because it is necessary, and you are happy all the time since you are not missing out on what life has to offer because you are living the way you want to live. To be yourself; being wholly, soulfully, be-you-tifully YOU, like a flower. I want everyone to bloom.”

Since graduating from the Hite Institute at University of Louisville, Bloom has studied glass and neon at Penland School of Crafts and Pilchuck Glass School.

In 2017, Bloom exhibited as a part of Crossing Borders at the Huff Gallery at Spalding University, and had a solo show, Perennial Being at Tim Faulkner Gallery in Louisville.

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Age: 25
Hometown: Crestwood, Kentucky
Education: BFA in 3-D Studios, Concentrations in Glass & Sculpture, University of Louisville, 2015
Website: www.whitneyolsen.com
Instagram: whitnaastyy

 "Day Dreams" by Whitney Olsen, Blown, cold worked, slumped, etched glass, metal and light, 48x72in, 2015, $12,000

"Day Dreams" by Whitney Olsen, Blown, cold worked, slumped, etched glass, metal and light, 48x72in, 2015, $12,000

 "Ethereal Study #3" by Whitney Olsen, Hand blown glass, video, dimensions vary, 2015, $8000

"Ethereal Study #3" by Whitney Olsen, Hand blown glass, video, dimensions vary, 2015, $8000

 "TH(is) you and me and everyone else" by Whitney Olsen, Mixed media installation, dimensions vary, 2017

"TH(is) you and me and everyone else" by Whitney Olsen, Mixed media installation, dimensions vary, 2017

 "Neon Bloom" by Whitney Olsen, Neon glass & painted plexi, 14x28in, 2017, $650

"Neon Bloom" by Whitney Olsen, Neon glass & painted plexi, 14x28in, 2017, $650


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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