Louisville artists

Sculpture, Public Art

Legacy: Marvin Finn (1913-2007)

“A Flock of Finns” at the Louisville Waterfront

“A Flock of Finns” at the Louisville Waterfront

When I was a student at the long ago-defunct Louisville School of Art, the school gallery in the Cloisters building hosted an early exhibition of the work of Marvin Finn. I remember the gallery being filled with a menagerie of wooden animals (I purchased a small bull for $11), but also intricately tooled machines: monolithic cranes, personable bulldozers, and magnificent biplanes hung from the ceiling at daredevil angles. The retired African American gentleman making all of this within the confines of his tiny Shelby Street home in the Clarksdale housing “projects” was the talk of the town, and his work was collected by the wealthy and powerful.  

Finn embodies the meaning of the Folk Art aesthetic. His love of carving wood came from watching his sharecropper father whittle as a young boy in Clio, Alabama, and his lack of any formal art education and adherence to simple forms fits the concept perfectly. He spent many years making wooden toys for his children and grandchildren so that there was also a purity in the motivation.

Marvin Finn photographed by Geoff Carr.

Marvin Finn photographed by Geoff Carr.

“There were ten boys and two girls in my family, and most of them older than I was, so I didn’t have toys except I made them,” said Finn when recalling his childhood on the farm in Clio. “I thought my old man was everything. When I was little I stood right up under him when he was whittling, and I learned it from him. I always tried to make my own toys when I was coming up as a kid. Anything that looked like a toy I would go into the woods and find me a tree and make it. But I remember a lot of Christmases when I never even seen me a toy.” (1)

After first exhibiting at the Kentuckiana Hobby and Gift Show in 1972, Finn’s profile rose over the next ten years, even though his prices did not. In the 1980’s the show at LSA and attention from the newly formed Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation (now KMAC) cemented Finn’s status as one of the most beloved and respected artists in Louisville.

Eighteen years ago, Louisville Mayor David Armstrong and an advisory committee developed the concept for the use of Marvin Finn’s work as the inspiration for a major public art initiative.

“Public art is more than an amenity in the streetscapes and open spaces in our city,” said Mayor Armstrong. “It evokes pride and awe in our city from passers-by, and it is a gift to every citizen.”

Photo: Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft

Photo: Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft

Thus, the idea for the flock of Finn’s was hatched. Dozens of owners of Finn’s art presented their originals to the Mayor’s advisory committee and 32 pieces were selected as models for the public art project. Colorful steel renditions, some as tall as nine feet, were cut out of half-inch thick steel and painted with graffiti proof paint by a cadre of artists mimicking the unique colors and patterns of Finn’s work. In April of 2001, the “Flock of Finns” landed in Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville.(2)

Finn’s work bridges traditional distinctions between craft and art. Although there is little functionality in the work, they began as toys but were almost never vessels or implements, it always expressed the naivete often associated with folk art, with a balance of rustic imagery and polished finish that enabled him to be embraced as easily by the fine art culture. The bright patterns of color were also seen as evocative of West African art, a connection to ancestry that is another important thread found in most Folk Art.

Today, Finn’s inspiration continues unabated, as many Louisville art teachers’ curriculum includes a ”Marvin Finn” project, most often in which children make their own brightly painted cut out birds.

Louisville Visual Art Summer Camp - 2017

Louisville Visual Art Summer Camp - 2017

Wooden Rooster by Marvin Finn, private collection

Wooden Rooster by Marvin Finn, private collection


(1) (2) marvinfinnweebly.com

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, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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Painting, Photography

Feature: John Brooks

“An Abyss Of Thighs” by John Brooks, 37.5x33.5in, Oil on canvas, 2019, $3800

“An Abyss Of Thighs” by John Brooks, 37.5x33.5in, Oil on canvas, 2019, $3800

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John Brooks has work all over Louisville right now. He is a part of the Imagined Monuments exhibit at Metro Hall, he is showing with Letitia Quesenberry at O Gallery, and some of his paintings from a just closed show at Moremen Gallery will remain on view in a space adjacent to the main gallery (he’ll be showing there again this summer). On top of all of that, his Quappi Projects exhibition initiative, in which he shows other artist’s work in his studio in the Portland neighborhood, is going strong in its second year. He is especially articulate about the foundations of his practice and the imagery he creates, so we will let his most recent Artist’s Statements speak for themselves:

“I consider myself foremost an oil painter. This new and developing body of work represents the first time I have integrated two other areas of my creative practice - collage making and poetry - with my painting practice. This solution evolved out of what was primarily a crisis of composition: after nearly a decade of almost exclusively creating expressive faces, my painting practice had reached a standstill. I did not see a way forward until it occurred to me to utilize my collages - during the making of which I do not suffer from compositional frustrations - to help facilitate composition in my painting. Through this change in method and approach, I feel unbounded. The addition of poetic text into my painting has also made my work more expansive and allows for a more comprehensive representation of my artistic conceptions. In the past, I have mostly resisted incorporating text into my visual work out of a fear that it could be too leading, but as a person who writes constantly in my head as I move throughout the day, the appeal of joining my poetry practice and my painting practice was undeniable. The way in which I have incorporated text into these paintings provides a narrow window into an idea or feeling but bewilders more than illuminates.”

“Fizz Of Hornets (Betty)” by John Brooks, 42x56in, Oil on canvas, 2018, $3800

“Fizz Of Hornets (Betty)” by John Brooks, 42x56in, Oil on canvas, 2018, $3800

“For the last decade, my work has explored themes of identity, memory, death, and place, and has been centered around questions of contemplation, the expression of emotion, the transformative power and the emotional resonance of particular experiences and what Max Beckmann described as “the deepest feeling about the mystery of being.” These paintings are a continuation of those notions. Something seems amiss in the zeitgeist; a mood of uncertainty and disquiet has seemingly overtaken the world. We find these moments before in history: in 1929’s Buchmandel, Stefan Zweig wrote: “Something had gone irrecoverably wrong; he was broken; the blood-red comet of the war had burst into the remote, calm atmosphere of his bookish world.” Are we living on the cusp of such an era or has it already begun? Collage is the perfect metaphorical representation of the disjointedness of contemporary life, of this exact moment in the twenty-first century. We are at once both so interconnected and so siloed; we are so fortunate and so starved; we are so inundated with knowledge and information that we ignore it in order to remain ignorant; our societies are unimaginably diverse and complex yet we fear the stranger, the other. “

“In most of these works, I have chosen to leave expanses of canvas unpainted. This is both an aesthetic choice but also a reference to the paintings’ relationship to poetry. Good poetry says the most it can with as few words as necessary; the impact of one correct word far outweighs the impact of several incorrect words. What a poet leaves out is as important as what he or she includes. Rich and luscious, oil paint has inherently excessive qualities; many colors are made from amalgams of precious minerals and metals, and others are made from earth pigments and charred animal bones. Throughout the process of making this series, I became entranced with the challenge of working with materials that dared me to be excessive while trying to employ the restraint of a poet’s eye. In that sense, these paintings are an exercise in spareness.“

“While these works contain some personal references, experiences and particular depictions of extant LBGTQIA+ life, their objective is ultimately not concerned with the specific; rather they are meant to evoke tantalizingly unreachable atmospheres and to engage with nebulous answers to queries about the search for and ambiguity of meaning and the powerful desire for connection and sense of belonging; they approach an attempt to make sense of the constant disparate noises, voices, and directives which contemporary life seems to exist amidst.”

“Stinson” by John Brooks, 8x10in, Digital photograph, 2018, $250 (edition of 5)

“Stinson” by John Brooks, 8x10in, Digital photograph, 2018, $250 (edition of 5)

Brooks offers separate thoughts on his photographs:

“I consider myself foremost an oil painter, and it is in my painting where these fundamental themes are most  rigorously probed, but my creative practice encompasses work in a variety of other media including collage, sculpture, poetry, and photography. While painting mostly happens only in long, designated sessions, I live with and work with poetry and photography on a daily basis. I consider them to be essential to my work as an artist.”

”These works were taken with my iPhone 8 Plus and represent the first time I have exhibited photography. Locations include Louisville, Miami, the San Francisco Bay area, New York City, the Hamptons, Athens and other parts of Greece. Even as a writer, I think visually. I see in images; I look in frames. Before the proliferation of mobile phones and the vast improvements made in their camera lenses, I often carried around a Nikon 35mm camera, and later a Leica X1. In the last several years I have become inseparable from my iPhone - less so for internet access than for wanting to have the camera with me at all times. In case a bird comes; in case the light moves. It isn’t documentation of occurrences that I am compelled to capture, but rather what I feel, or see, or what I think I almost see. Permeated with an atmosphere of loss and longing, or what the Germans describe as Sehnsucht, these meditative and emotionally resonant images do not posture a sense of knowing, but rather disclose themselves as unknowing, even unknowable. Joy is present, too, and praise for the ephemeral delicateness of existence. In thinking about this joint exhibition with Letitia Quesenberry, she and I came to understand that what binds these two bodies of work together is the subtle tension between the promise of an attainable understanding and the elusiveness of the answer. There is never any arrival; understanding is just out of reach, tantalizingly beyond what is within grasp. These non-arrivals are, of course, what compels us to revisit works of art time and time again.”

“Statement of Other History” by John Brooks, 72x96in, Oil on canvas, $2200.00

“Statement of Other History” by John Brooks, 72x96in, Oil on canvas, $2200.00

Jim Zimmer / Often the Content is Impenetrable is at Quappi projects through March 3.

Non-Arrivals, with Letitia Quesenberry at O Art, 1000 Swan Street, runs through March 9.

“Statement of Other History” is a part of Imagined Monuments, an LVA exhibit for Metro Hall, 527 West Jefferson Street, runs through July 12.

Hometown: Frankfort, Kentucky
Education: BA in Political Science, Minor in English literature from College of Charleston, SC 2000; continuing education at Central St Martins, Hampstead School of Art, Camden Art Centre, London, England 2006-2009
Website: johnedwardbrooks.com
Instagram: narcissusandgoldmund

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“Wind Is Wild Now”by John Brooks, 42x56in, Oil on canvas, 2018, $3800

“Wind Is Wild Now”by John Brooks, 42x56in, Oil on canvas, 2018, $3800

“Mother(Darrell)” by John Brooks, 8x10in, Digital photograph, 2018, $250 (edition of 5)

“Mother(Darrell)” by John Brooks, 8x10in, Digital photograph, 2018, $250 (edition of 5)


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, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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Fiber

Vignette: Bette Levy

“The hope of my last exhibition was that I would be able to continue to produce art, and the reality of this exhibition is that I can and I will.” - Bette Levy

“ReBirth” by Bette Levy, Reconfiguration of a piece completed in 2017, Hand crochet, powertex, 42in circumference, $1100

“ReBirth” by Bette Levy, Reconfiguration of a piece completed in 2017, Hand crochet, powertex, 42in circumference, $1100

Love and loss seem to always be inextricably tied together, each deepening the impact of the other. It is as succinct an example of the balance of life. Harmony is never really about analogous emotional experience, but about contrast. Bette Levy may have been wise enough to understand that concept before recent events in her life, but some lessons never stop being reinforced. Her new show at Pyro Gallery addresses this. Also on display is work in wood by Indiana artist Paul Schreck.

Rebirth is a follow-up to my two previous exhibitions, Before… and …And After, in 2016 and 2017, respectively. These exhibitions traced work created before and during my marriage to micro-surgeon Robert Acland, as well as work created after his untimely death. Rebirth examines my new creative work produced in the three years since his loss.”

“While the word rebirth typically refers to an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth, it also refers to the ‘action of reappearing or starting to flourish or increase after a decline’, ‘a revival or renewal’, ‘a spiritual regeneration’ (Google Dictionary). In June/July 2018, I traveled to Japan as part of a World Shibori Symposium seminar and tour, supported in part by the Great Meadows Foundation. The experiences there served to jump-start my creative processes, which had lain dormant since Robert’s death.“

Levy describe the use of the circular form, “…which is reflective of a Japanese concept called the Enso circle. The Enso circle represents wholeness, completion, and perfection. It seems fitting to me that I am drawn to this form as I continue to heal.”

“A Trinity of Faucets” by Bette Levy, Hand crochet, nylon cord, faucets, various sizes, 2018

“A Trinity of Faucets” by Bette Levy, Hand crochet, nylon cord, faucets, various sizes, 2018

Yet the circle in “Rebirth” is also a chain, a succession of individual elements that have become interconnected. In this way Levy does not isolate the circle for its ideals, but illustrates how the healing journey is one step at a time, slowly rebuilding that wholeness overtime. All of Levy’s work shows this steadfast craft and attention to detail. The peace and harmony must be earned.

In another piece, “A Trinity of Faucets”, the continuum is built, again as linked components intrinsic to textile work, but here built around aging, discarded faucet handles. There is a contrast in the rusted steel and the delicate fiber material surrounding it but there is also an easy relationship of pattern that underscores the strength that comes from interlocking filaments of any material.

“In my 2017 exhibit, I showed a piece with three elements: a large rectangular crocheted piece from which a smaller circle had been removed, flanked by the removed circle and a border circle. As a whole, that piece represented what the death of my husband meant to the relationship, to me as an individual, and what my hopes were for the future. In its newly reconstituted form, ‘Rebirth’ suggests the renewal of my creative energies and output.”

“This exhibition displays a wide and new variety of techniques, processes, and mediums, many of which were triggered by my travel experiences in Japan. I have included works in spun paper, knitted wire, and boro (the Japanese technique of mending and patching), as well as more familiar techniques as large-scale crochet on rusted objects and work with pig gut. My new work diverges from my earlier abstract-stitched work to more symmetrical and grid-like structures. While my two previous exhibitions were a way for me to process the experience of my husband’s death, this exhibition is more experimental, more playful, a means for me to try out new methods and ways of working. I see it as a start of new directions and an opportunity to stretch my wings.”

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Rebirth, opens on February 14, 2019, at Pyro Gallery, 1006 East Washington Street, and lasts through March 23. Also showing in the gallery will be work in wood by Indiana artist, Paul Schreck. An opening reception will take place on Friday, February 15 from 6-9 pm with a gallery talk on Saturday, February 16 at 10 am. Regular hours are Thursday through Saturday, from 12 noon to 6 pm, until 9 pm on first Fridays, and by special appointment with the artist.

 Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Education: BS, Experimental Psychology, Carnagie-Mellon University, Pennsylvania; MA, Art Therapy Institute of Expressive Therapies, University of Louisville; MFA Fiber Arts, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville.
Gallery Representative: PYRO Gallery (Louisville)


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“Boro II” by Bette Levy, Hand stitched, cotton thread, dyed handkerchiefs, various fabrics, 30x38in, 2018, $800

“Boro II” by Bette Levy, Hand stitched, cotton thread, dyed handkerchiefs, various fabrics, 30x38in, 2018, $800

Spinning Out” by Bette Levy, Spun paper, Japanese ledger books, glue, 24x36in, 2019, $300

Spinning Out” by Bette Levy, Spun paper, Japanese ledger books, glue, 24x36in, 2019, $300


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, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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Mixed Media

Vignette: Janis Kirstein

“Freedom Collage” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media, 24x36in, 2018, $1000

“Freedom Collage” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media, 24x36in, 2018, $1000

Janis Kirstein is a painter, photographer, and writer, but primarily a painter. She combines a mixture of media and collage, including acrylic, pastel, colored pencil, & Photoshop, Sumi-E Ink and Japanese Rice paper. In the work we see here, the energy is loose and spontaneous, at times nearly explosive, betraying the level of discipline required in both the composition and the technique.

“The Majestic Horse Race” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media, 20x32in, 2018, $750

“The Majestic Horse Race” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media, 20x32in, 2018, $750

“I love making collages,” states Kirstein. “Action painting has been my joy for more than 30 years and continues to this day, today, using Sumi-E ink and a Haiki brush. I add torn scraps of Japanese rice paper and combine a variety of media including paint, watercolor, graphite, ink, colored pencil - even glitter, all to capture the free flowing creative energy that surrounds me at any given moment.”

“To achieve the atmospheric abstraction seen in my work, I make use of transparent layering. My canvases and paper works range in size, the scale of my pieces ranging from my use of the Nano image to images of outer space. That means all realities are visible simultaneously, which creates a paradox or sense perceptive omnipotence within you, the perceiver; much like being able to see all dimensions of reality within one gaze.” 

Kirstein speaks of her work using cosmic nomenclature suggesting a meaningful spiritual component. Abstraction opens the mind to welcome a subjective interpretation, and it can be fascinating to imagine the range of response, yet the calculated choice made by the artist even when they are giving themselves over to the organic experience of creative expression will usually be a guide for the viewer.

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Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: Master of Fine Art, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1981;
Bachelor of Arts, University of Louisville, KY, 1977;
Indiana University Bloomington, 1973-75
Website: kirsteinfineart.com
Instagram: janiskirstein

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All artwork is copyright ©Janis Kirstein 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express and written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janis Kirstein and http://www.kirsteinfineart.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Moment in Time” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media, 20x32in, 2018, $750

“Moment in Time” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media, 20x32in, 2018, $750

“Jungle Heat” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media on stretched canvas, 32x48in, 2017, $2000

“Jungle Heat” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media on stretched canvas, 32x48in, 2017, $2000

“Frankfort Avenue” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media on stretched canvas, 32x48in, 2018, $2000

“Frankfort Avenue” by Janis Kirstein, Mixed Media on stretched canvas, 32x48in, 2018, $2000

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, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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Mixed Media

Open Studio Spotlight: Deb Ogburn

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The heart is a symbolic shape that has been so ubiquitous in culture for so long – how many thousands do we see in the month of February? – Yet, despite such saturation, we are never exhausted by it. Perhaps is it is simply a measure of how deeply we crave love, and never feel we have enough. Deb Ogburn unashamedly brings the form to the forefront in her work.

“The GateKeeper” by Deb Ogburn, Mixed Media on gallery profile canvas, 12x12in , 2017, $75

“The GateKeeper” by Deb Ogburn, Mixed Media on gallery profile canvas, 12x12in , 2017, $75

“My most recent body of work is a series inspired by my therapeutic work with veteran clients and the hearts we painted for graduates of HUD-VASH, a program striving to end the cycle of chronic homelessness. I used acrylic and mixed media on gallery profile stretched canvas, depicting various renditions of the heart symbol. In addition, I sometimes use modeling paste, wax finishes, beading and ephemera. I work intuitively, following my attractors in the moment. My process is reflective of the emotional landscape of the human spirit as we encounter life. Multiple layers of paint add complexity and depth to the pieces. This body of work is largely about resilience. These pieces have helped me release the emotional residue of the therapeutic work I do daily with my clients. It has been a part of my self-care to work through encounters with various media and techniques, and to find a resting place for each of these hearts.”

“Prior to my heart series, I explored a series of images incorporating mono prints on and with preserved autumn leaves, in an inquiry about the beauty of aging. Earlier works were acrylic paintings on paper, oil pastel and Prismacolor drawings, encaustic on wood and digital manipulations of photographs, largely in an exploration of my nightly dreamscapes.”

“An Expressive Arts Therapist / Coach by profession, I am an explorer of multi-modal processes and media, including visual arts, dance, music, poetry and drama. I’ve found that “mistakes” are often “happy accidents” and I trust that I can make something beautiful out of my learning—a crucial tenet that I impress upon my clients. My coaching informs my art and my art informs my coaching.” 

“I’m currently exploring texture as under painting, enjoying the richness of it beneath line and translucent layers of interference color defining forms found in nature. This process is relevant to my own journey as I employ transparency in my work as a coach. Our personal experience is what gives us "texture" and makes us unique.”  

“Touched” by Deb Ogburn, Mixed Media on gallery profile canvas, 12x12in 2017, $65

“Touched” by Deb Ogburn, Mixed Media on gallery profile canvas, 12x12in 2017, $65

Art Exhibitions / Performance

La Jolla Art Association, Juried Exhibition, (photography/digital art), La Jolla, CA

LifeStage, Art Exhibition (mixed media), Sushi Performance & Visual Art, San Diego

Brain Storms / Soul Storms, Juried Art Exhibition, Sushi Performance & Visual Art, San Diego, CA

Whose Dream is This Anyway? (Writer / Director) Performance & Visual Art Exhibit, Expressive Arts Institute, San Diego, CA

The Art of Dreaming, Solo Art Exhibition (photography, painting, mixed media), Expressive Arts Institute, San Diego, CA

Loose Threads from the Tapestry, (performance art), Sushi Performance & Visual Art, San Diego, CA

Gestation, Solo Art Exhibition (photography, painting, mixed media), Expressive Arts Institute, San Diego, CA

Association for the Study of Dreams, National Juried Exhibition (drawing, mixed media), Washington, D.C.

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Deb Ogburn is participating in the 2018 Open Studio Weekend, sponsored by Louisville Visual Art and University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute. His studio, located in the Germantown neighborhood, will be open the weekend of November 3 and 4. Tickets for Open Studio Weekend will go on sale October 16. Click here for more information. 

 Education: BS Design, 1980, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture and Art
Professional Diploma Expressive Arts Therapy, 2002, Expressive Arts Institute San Diego
MA Expressive Arts Therapy, Coaching and Consulting, 2004, European Graduate School, Saas Fee, Switzerland
Website: Arts4Evolution.com
https://www.pinterest.com/502atimeforart/dlogburn-art/

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Autumn Prelude by Deb Ogburn, Acrylic on paper, 36x24in, 2018,  $145

“Beguiled” by Deb Ogburn, Mixed Media on gallery profile canvas, 12x12in, 2017, $75

“Beguiled” by Deb Ogburn, Mixed Media on gallery profile canvas, 12x12in, 2017, $75

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, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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