art center

Painting

Vignette: Valtcho Tonov


“I believe in the beauty of ordinary subjects.” — Valtcho Tonov


   "Greece" by Valtcho Tonov, 10x20 in, oil on linen panel (2016), $700 (comes in gold plein air style frame)|  BUY NOW

 "Greece" by Valtcho Tonov, 10x20 in, oil on linen panel (2016), $700 (comes in gold plein air style frame)| BUY NOW

Artist, Valtcho Tonov

Artist, Valtcho Tonov

Even though Valtcho Tonov has no formal, institutional diploma, through private lessons and countless workshops he has been relentless in pursuing a personal course of study in painting. For many years he practiced painting the figure from life in a class setting and the landscape en plein air.

“As my experience accumulates as an artist during the years I understand that it's important to convey feeling with my art and relate in a profound way to the viewer. I believe in the beauty of ordinary subjects. I consider myself an abstract impressionist, however my style varies depending of my mood and the way I start a new painting.”

"Cherokee Park Path" by Valtcho Tonov, 12x16 in, oil on linen panel (2016), $700 (comes in plein air style dark frame) |  BUY NOW

"Cherokee Park Path" by Valtcho Tonov, 12x16 in, oil on linen panel (2016), $700 (comes in plein air style dark frame) | BUY NOW

We see the different moods in “Cherokee Park Path”, which perfectly captures the unique winter light on the snow, everything crisp and clear under the brilliant sun, of how the equine forms in “Southern Horses” seem rooted to the earth as if the are plants awaiting harvest, and is there an image more evocative of moodiness than a view of the skyline distorted as if being witnessed through a rain-streaked window in “Louisville Winter”.

This is what a painter does; working with one of the most plastic and expressive of mediums, the artist is able to communicate a heightened perception of the world, forcing us to look harder at our own environment and the aspects of nature that we too easily take for granted.

"Mc Neely Lake, Louisville" by Valtcho Tonov, 12x16in, oil on linen panel (2016), $700 (comes in plein air style dark frame) |  BUY NOW

"Mc Neely Lake, Louisville" by Valtcho Tonov, 12x16in, oil on linen panel (2016), $700 (comes in plein air style dark frame) | BUY NOW

Tonov is a member of Oil Painters Of America and the Plein Air Painters of Kentucky. After moving to the United States in 2001, he eventually settled in Louisville, Kentucky. Tonov has continued his studies under the tutelage of renowned artists such as John Michael Carter, Phil Starke, and others. He is part of an ongoing uninstructed figurative drawing/painting workshop at Mellwood Art Center in Louisville.

Hometown: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Age: 44
Education: self-taught but studied with John Michael Carter & Phil Starke
Website: http://www.vptart.co

"Louisville Winter" by Valtcho Tonov, 20x24 in, oil on canvas (2017), $900 (not framed, finished sides) |  BUY NOW

"Louisville Winter" by Valtcho Tonov, 20x24 in, oil on canvas (2017), $900 (not framed, finished sides) | BUY NOW

"Southern Horses" by Valtcho Tonov, 11x14 in, oil on linen panel (2016), $600 (comes in gold frame) |  BUY NOW

"Southern Horses" by Valtcho Tonov, 11x14 in, oil on linen panel (2016), $600 (comes in gold frame) | BUY NOW

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

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Mixed Media, Sculpture

Vignette: Zehui Ni



“I don’t let the passion become overprotective. I want to be always exploring and learning.”
– Zehui Ni


Zehui Ni at work in her studio.

Zehui Ni at work in her studio.

We expect an artist to create out of passion, and even at the tender age of 18, Zehui Ni exemplifies that commitment with an impressive display of technique and accomplishment. Ni doesn’t have a TV in her living space, because she would rather spend her time sculpting, which she describes as, “the ultimate form of entertainment.” She started sculpting seven years ago and hasn’t stopped, spending eight hours a day making art.

Ni is clear about the attraction of the medium, and she talks about, “…clay’s soft and forgiving qualities when moist, the dried dusty surfaces, the small pieces falling and piling up on the floor from a ribbon tool, to its cracking, crumbling, and collapsing…I find my life’s passion in in the cold, smooth, and moist blocks of clay; the high fire that dries white on my palms, the raven stoneware brown that hides deep between my fingernails, or the terracotta stains on my feet after wedging. But I don’t let the passion become overprotective. I want to be always exploring and learning. Marbleize, matte, china paint, each new technique excites me. I embrace it all.”

"One In Four" by Zehui Ni, 20x12x10in, clay, glaze |  Price available upon request

"One In Four" by Zehui Ni, 20x12x10in, clay, glaze | Price available upon request

Her work in clay is highly detailed, with a level of development that only comes from such single-minded dedication, but there is also an assured embrace of the conceptual that drives her work outside of that medium, as in the mixed media constructions of “Porcelain Nights (Lantern Piece)”, or ”Red Birds on Violin”.

"Porcelain Nights" by Zehui Ni, 40x10x20in, lights, battery, fishing lines, paper, marker, spray paint, mat board, bamboo cane|  |  Price available upon request

"Porcelain Nights" by Zehui Ni, 40x10x20in, lights, battery, fishing lines, paper, marker, spray paint, mat board, bamboo cane|  | Price available upon request

Ni explores fearlessly, a nascent artist whose work shows limitless potential, and we can see her overtly acknowledging her influences. Her use of Asian motifs ties a reverential attitude to nature to a contemporary aesthetic that extends to multi-media installation. Yet Ni’s relationship to her work is far from academic; she expresses almost a symbiotic connection with the clay, describing her process in nurturing terms that equate brushing water onto the clay with bathing an infant. It is an elemental, empathetic understanding of medium that borders on the spiritual.

"Yellow Squares And Black Lines" by Zehui Ni, 12x1x12in, acrylic paint, foam board |  Price available upon request

"Yellow Squares And Black Lines" by Zehui Ni, 12x1x12in, acrylic paint, foam board | Price available upon request

Zehui Ni is Member of Louisville Visual Art and The National Council On Education For The Ceramic Arts. She is currently traveling outside of the U.S, but will be entering the Art Center College of Design in Chicago in January 2017

Exhibition History:
2016 – Sharron Art Center Gallery “Charity Art Exhibition” South Brunswick, NJ. USA.
2016 – Norma E. Brown Gallery “Aurora” Louisville, KY. USA.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 18
Education:  Alumni LVA Children’s Fine Art Classes, graduated from duPont Manual High School's Visual Art Magnet.
Website: http://zehuini.weebly.com/

"Inside Out Red Dot" by Zehui Ni, 18x9x26in, wood, acrylic paint |  Price available upon request

"Inside Out Red Dot" by Zehui Ni, 18x9x26in, wood, acrylic paint | Price available upon request

"Red birds on Violin" by Zehui Ni, 26x22x55in, wood, string, acrylic paint, tape, metal, paper, found branches |  Price available upon request

"Red birds on Violin" by Zehui Ni, 26x22x55in, wood, string, acrylic paint, tape, metal, paper, found branches | Price available upon request

"Golden Peacocks" by Zehui Ni, 16x11x14in, paperclay, found wood, paint, rub n buff | Price available upon request |  Price available upon request

"Golden Peacocks" by Zehui Ni, 16x11x14in, paperclay, found wood, paint, rub n buff | Price available upon request | Price available upon request

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

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Sculpture, Public Art

Feature: Ed Hamilton

"Ed Hamilton's Studio"     P    hoto by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

"Ed Hamilton's Studio" Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

On the west-facing side of the Glassworks building in downtown Louisville you will find an over-size image of sculptor ED HAMILTON with the legend, “Ed’s Louisville.” Part of a series of such tributes to native sons and daughters located throughout the city, the placement of this particular portrait is significant because the west side of town is where Hamilton came of age. Although born in Cincinnati, he grew up on what was then Walnut Street (later rechristened Muhammad Ali Boulevard); a stretch from 6th Street west to 18th Street that he describes in his autobiography as, “…my street, and I owned every crack and every weed in those concrete sidewalks.”* So it is appropriate that his visage is cast out onto what truly was Ed’s Louisville. 

It also explains why the renowned artist has never let fame lure him away. His heart is here, where his parents, Edward Hamilton, Sr. and Amy Jane Hamilton, ran the family business, a tailoring and barbershop, in the early Mammoth Building at 6th and Walnut Streets. Hamilton’s first steps as an artist were at Parkland Junior High School, where art teacher Harriet O’ Malley nominated him for the Children’s Free Art Classes (CFAC) operated by Louisville Visual Art, then called The Art Center, located on the University of Louisville campus. 

"Ed Hamilton working in his studio" P    hoto by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

"Ed Hamilton working in his studio" Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

Hamilton becomes animated talking about this turning point: “If that teacher hadn’t picked me out for CFAC - she could have picked any of those other kids – but she picked me. I never would have gotten there on my own. I had no thought, no ambition to be an artist. That’s an example of why teachers are so important.”

Jean Mulhall, a professional medical illustrator taught that CFAC class, but the human form was not a subject. “We were mostly outside. We drew all over campus.”

Later he attended Shawnee High School, where his art instructor was Patsy Griffiths. In his autobiography, Hamilton describes the contentious atmosphere created by the push for “total” integration in the city schools: “I still remember the animosity and disrespect from white students in that school.” So the fact that Griffith, a white teacher, fostered the talent of a black student in the midst of such tension made an important impression on the budding young artist. When Hamilton graduated in 1965, she pushed him to apply for a scholarship to the Art Center School, which was located in the same building where he had taken CFAC classes. When he returned, with portfolio under his arm, for his interview, he was taken aback: “It had been a few years, and I was still young,’ he laughs, ”and I kept thinking, ‘this place sure seems familiar’.”

Art Center building,ULUA.001.0026, University of Louisville Archives & Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky

Art Center building,ULUA.001.0026, University of Louisville Archives & Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky

The Art Center building was located on South First Street on the U of L campus, and Hamilton used to hang out between classes at a café in Bigelow Hall that was a gathering place on campus for Black students. It was there he met his wife. “I made my move… and introduced myself. When she said her name was Bernadette…well, the name alone was enough for me!” For their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2017, the Hamiltons are planning a trip to Europe to celebrate.

Of course, there is a lot more life and history between that meeting and today. For 49 years Ed Hamilton has built a career and a reputation that now positions him as one of the foremost American sculptors of public work. Yet his studio is surprisingly modest considering the scale of some of his most famous pieces: the Lincoln Memorial in Louisville, the Joe Louis statue in Detroit, or the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, in Newport News, Virginia. It is a reminder of Hamilton’s humble roots and that, whatever his preeminence, he remains a hard-working artist.

"Bust of George DeBaptiste". Madison Indiana commission of an   Underground Railroad conductor.

"Bust of George DeBaptiste". Madison Indiana commission of an Underground Railroad conductor.

His latest commission is a life-size bronze bust of George DeBaptiste to be installed in a park development in Madison, Indiana. DeBaptiste (1815-1875) was a freeborn black man who settled in Madison before the Civil War and was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, ferrying slaves across the Ohio into Indiana, and later a key figure in the abolitionist movement after riots forced him to move his family to Michigan. It is a subject that fits very well into Hamilton’s oeuvre of African-American History. Taking on such stories as the mutiny of the slave-ship Amistad, African American soldiers during the American Civil War, the migration of southern blacks to the western United States, or the contributions of such individuals as Booker T. Washington and Medgar Evers, seems a natural task for someone with such an acute sense of history. Hamilton does extensive research into the historical background of each project just to prepare his submission, long before he has been formally selected. “I’d like to think it makes the difference – one of the reasons they choose ME.” Even 25 years after completing the Amistad Memorial in New Haven, Connecticut, he speaks extemporaneously and in great detail of Cinque’s mutiny aboard the notorious slave ship and the landmark Supreme Court ruling that finally allowed he and his compatriots to return to their native Sierre Leone twenty years before the Civil War. Should Hamilton ever wish to “retire” from making monuments, he could easily forge a lucrative career as a guest lecturer in history classes, just don’t expect that retirement to come anytime soon.

A 360° video featuring the "Bust of George DeBaptiste" (Madison Indiana commission of an Underground Railroad conductor) by Ed Hamilton. 

"Ed Hamilton" Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

"Ed Hamilton" Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

*The Birth of An Artist: A Journey of Discovery, by Ed Hamilton, Chicago Spectrum Press, 2006


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

Please contact    josh@louisvillevisualart.org    for further information on advertising through Artebella.

Please contact josh@louisvillevisualart.org for further information on advertising through Artebella.