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Feature: PYRO Relocation

From The Firehouse to The Butcher Block: PYRO Gallery On The Move.

It was christened PYRO because it made its first home in a converted firehouse on Hancock Street nestled along Nanny Goat Strut. Yet it has always seemed a good name for an artist’s cooperative: a word suggesting the fire of inspiration but also containing a note of danger. As the members prepare to move into their fourth home at 1006-1004 East Washington Street, they seem poised to rediscover the upstart nature of their beginning.

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From the firehouse they relocated to the former Chapman-Friedman Gallery on West Market Street, one of the most beautiful gallery spaces in town, with high ceilings and polished wood floors. The location felt premium, but the traffic didn’t match the mission. Too many tourists carrying miniature bat souvenirs from the nearby Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and not enough art collectors.

Meanwhile, 10 blocks east on the same street an explosion of restaurants, local retail, and galleries called NuLu was happening, gaining national attention with coverage in the New York Times. PYRO joined in by moving to a space in the 909 East Market building. It was an effective exhibition space, but positioned away from the street in an L-shaped structure, it was hidden from view to passing traffic.

“If we had been one block west it might have made all of the difference,” laughs James “Chip” Norton. Norton has been conducting a tour of the new location, which still needs a lot of work, some of which will take a period of months to complete. As opposed to the idea of a large, single gallery, the new location is actually two adjacent buildings that will house five separate exhibition spaces for PYRO, as well as a home for DE Gallery Boutique, which has shared space with PYRO at 909 East Market. The two will be connected by an addition whose construction is currently underway, the foundation blocks still visible as of this writing. Beyond this is a common outdoor area that the building’s owner, Andy Bleiden, is planning on developing in such a way that it will connect with the businesses on the equivalent block on Main Street, Hi-Five Doughnuts, and Pho Ba Lu.

"Untitled #1" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017

"Untitled #1" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017

“This community - which is named Butcher Block - consists of several renovated National Historic homes and is a family of retailers, galleries and restaurants that work together to promote their members,” explains PYRO member Debra Lott. “The Butcher Block businesses will be connected by a green space in the center and we believe it will become a destination for tourists and local customers for a unique, relaxing, shopping experience.”  

Despite the broken up space, Norton states, “Once we are finished I think we will have pretty close to the same linear square feet that we had in the previous location, but it will be easier to have multiple exhibits when we choose.” There will also be a full working kitchen, which will help facilitate public events.

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PYRO Gallery was founded in 2003 by CJ Pressma, Marilyn Whitesell, Debra Clem, Erin Devine, Susan Gorsen, Michael Brohm, David Modica, Cean Peevey-Rosenthal, Mitch Eckert, Keith Auerbach, and Susan Moffett, who is still a member and very excited about what she sees as potential and possibilities: “Potential in that, this "Butcher Block" area will be a destination once all the development is complete - Butchertown is blooming! And possibilities in that having several smaller galleries will allow us to have more exhibits up by different people, perhaps some guests of PYRO. Not to mention some fun and challenging installation/performance artwork.”

PYRO Gallery’s FINAL show in its current location, 909 E. Market St., is a group exhibit featuring members and several invited guest artists. PYRO Squared, through August 26.

The current membership consists of: Debra Lott, Jeffrey Skinner, Bette Levy, Mike McCarthy, Susan Moffett, Guinever Smith, Bob Lockhart, C J Pressma, James Norton, Claudia Hammer, Corie Neumayer, Nancy Currier, John McCarthy, Keith Auerbach, Beverly Glascock, Shawn Marshall, Julia Davis, Kathy Loomis, Leslie Anglin.

The first show in the new space will be Experimenting with Light by Keith Auerbach. It will run September 7 through October 21, with an opening reception September 7 from 5 to 9pm. The exhibit will be part of the 2017 Louisville Photo Biennial. PYRO will also be open for the First Friday trolley Hop on October 6.

PYRO has a Grand Opening planned for December of 2017 - exact date to be announced.

"Untitled #3" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017

"Untitled #3" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017


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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.


Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Painting

Vignette: Erik Orr

Artist, Erik Orr

Artist, Erik Orr

Flipping Reality On Its Head

Writer William Goldman once opined that the difference between art and popular entertainment might be that entertainment comforts, but art should unsettle us; prompt us to ask questions. Erik Orr’s paintings immediately prompt us to wonder what we are looking at: is this a painting or a photograph? When you take into account that his subjects are primarily iconic figures in popular entertainment, music, culture, comics, and videogames, then Goldman’s proposition comes under challenge. The familiarity of celebrity faces may seem to offer accessible pop pleasures, but the presentation of the artist won’t quite allow us such a cushy perspective.

In his most recent artist’s statement, Orr describes his intentions: “My more recent works use techniques that blend traditional painting through a filter of digital technology, the works create optical illusions that will make you question your own eyes. At a time when we experience our world through screens of all sizes, these works flip that reality on its head and present paintings that look as if they are digital images from afar.”

"Anthony Michael Hall" by Erik Orr, 2.5x3.5ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

"Anthony Michael Hall" by Erik Orr, 2.5x3.5ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

"River Phoenix" by Erik Orr, 3x4ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

"River Phoenix" by Erik Orr, 3x4ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

Orr builds his portraits with organic vertical lines that suggest a photograph enlarged beyond what its quality should allow, yet such a question is made almost moot in the limitless digital resolution of the moment. His work straddles the divide between digital and analog both functionally and conceptually.

“In my current show, New Work, at Revelry Boutique Gallery I intend the work to showcase the culture that has influenced me to become the artist I am today.”

Orr resides in the Highlands of Louisville Kentucky with his wife and two young children. He is employed as a Graphic Designer at a marketing company and plans to continue to grow and show his work more frequently in the coming years.

New Work runs through September 6 at Revelry Boutique & Gallery.

Age: 37
Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia
Education: Associates Degree in Communication Design, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA); BA, Art and Visual Technology with a Minor in Art History George Mason University
Website: www.erikorr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erik_orr/

"B-Boy" by Erik Orr, 3x3ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

"B-Boy" by Erik Orr, 3x3ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

"Twiggy" by Erik Orr, 3x4ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

"Twiggy" by Erik Orr, 3x4ft, acrylic on wood (2017)

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

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Painting

Q&A: Quappi Projects


“We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts.“ – John Brooks


Artist, John Brooks

Artist, John Brooks

Q&A with John Brooks about Quappi Projects

‘Quappi’ was the nickname of Mathilde von Kaulbach, who was married to German New Objectivist painter Max Beckmann (1884-1950). It was derived from the similarity of her surname to the German word Kaulquappe, meaning ‘tadpole’.

It is a singular phrase with no other formal meaning, which seems to delight Louisville artist John Brooks, and so he chose it as the moniker of his new exhibition initiative, Quappi Projects. Occupying most of his current studio space at 1520 B Lytle Street in the Portland neighborhood, the mission is to showcase four artists each year from in and outside of Louisville. The inaugural show will be work of Adam Chuck, a Cleveland, Ohio native, now living and making work in Brooklyn, New York.

What motivated you to devote some of your studio space to exhibition space for other artists?

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

Running a gallery is an endeavor I've long been interested in, but it was difficult to imagine a way in which I could maintain a studio practice, run a gallery, and afford to do both. I was between studios in 2015 and spent the summer in Berlin. Part of that time was spent studying under the German artist Norbert Bisky, whose work I've admired for a long time.  We discussed a lot of things, including lamenting the difficulty of finding avenues to show and share work. He advised that I (or anyone!) should just "start my own thing;" so I've had this bee in my bonnet for a couple of years. Since January 2016 I've shared my Lytle Street studio space with another artist, and when he decided to move out I knew that this was my opportunity. The space is perfect - clean, bright, white, and with enough room to allow me to continue my studio practice and to exhibit others' work in a proper way.

As an artist, I know how difficult it can be to find arenas in which to show your work, and I am thrilled by the idea that I can provide that opportunity to other artists. Also, I've been fortunate to live in both London and Chicago, and have traveled the United States and Europe fairly extensively, so I feel like I have a broad range of art-related experiences and knowledge that I can rely on to help inform the direction of the gallery's platform.

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

How did you become aware of Adam Chuck's work?

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

Adam Chuck paints primarily images from social media; fittingly, we "met" quite randomly through Instagram a few years ago. Though we've never yet met in person, we have developed what I consider to be a real friendship, which speaks both to the power and possibilities of social media but also the power and purity of his work. When it became clear that Quappi Projects was really going to happen, I knew I wanted to inaugurate the gallery with a show of Adam's work and happily he said yes. I'm a fan (and a collector) of his work and am so excited to be able to share it with the Louisville art community and the city at large. At first glance, Adam's work might seem to border on the salacious, but I think it creeps up to that line and then walks back. Most of the work is tiny, phone-screen-sized, owing its existence to social media platforms such as Instagram. The work is intimate, sensual and extremely honest. Each work is an exposure, really; it is essentially about reaching out, about the deep desire to connect, and represents an attempt to know and be known. In an age of terror and big fears, Adam's work seems infused with knowledge of those fears, but speaks more to the fundamental needs and basic human fears of need: to be desired, to be loved, to be seen, to be considered.

Tell me about the term "quappi"? I know the Beckman story, but what does it mean to you?

I believe very much in the transformative power of art. I have experienced this enough times in my own life to understand and value its merit, and I firmly believe that the highest function of art is to allow human beings to know ourselves more deeply. My own work has been concerned with the emotional resonance of particular experiences and what Max Beckmann described as "the deepest feeling about the mystery of being." Quappi Projects' goal is to exhibit contemporary art reflecting the zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist is mighty strange. Perhaps all times are strange, but I don't think there's any arguing that we are living in very strange times.

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts. I find that very worrying. I think the experiences of 20th Century German artists like Max Beckmann (and others) are relevant to us today.  Beckmann didn't consider himself a political person, yet his entire life was thrown into upheaval because of politics. He considered political concerns to be secondary to the concerns of the spiritual or metaphysical. Although I am a political person (and have a BA in Political Science) I agree with him and certainly find most explicitly political work too narrowly focused. At the same time, I think the best art reflects the times in which it was created, so it must have some element of the political. Take Velazquez' "Las Meninas," for example - artistically, it is a masterpiece, but it also tells us so much about the Spanish Court and what was going on at the time. I find that balance fascinating, and hopefully we can show work that is interesting in the same way. Even if we fall just a little short of "Las Meninas," we'll be very successful!

I plan to alternate non-Louisville-based and Louisville-based artists have a great series of artists lined up: Baghdad, Iraq-born artist Vian Sora, who now lives and works in Louisville; Louisville native Whit Forrester, who lives in Chicago and just graduated with an MFA from Columbia College; wood artisan Michael James Moran, a central Kentucky native who now lives and works in the Hudson Valley; and photographer Ryan Tassi.

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

Beckmann credited Quappi with keeping him going, keeping him on task and inspired. I think we're living in times when we must keep going, be on task, and be inspired. It's very easy to want to give into the notion of being quiet and comfortable, but I think we must resist that. We must be open, communicate, and connect. I'm hoping the spirit of Quappi can help me do that.

Adam Chuck / Instant Gratification

August 18 – September 29
Opening: Friday, August 18 / 5:00-9:00pm

Quappi Projects
1520 B Lytle Street
Gallery open by appointment only
www.quappiprojects.com

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Painting

Vignette: Julio Cesar Rodriguez


“I started to find my identity and prominence through artistic creation, and the physical and conceptual relationship between humanity and nature became the starting point.” - Julio Cesar Rodriguez


Artist, Julio Cesar Rodriguez

Artist, Julio Cesar Rodriguez

Julio Cesar Rodriguez is unquestionably a Surrealist painter, his work echoes some of the great masters of the movement, such as Magritte, and in the new images shown here, he still retains the disruption of the human form that is a common characteristic of his previous work, but there is also a  simpler, more innocent feeling here. Although the monochromatic images are rendered in acrylic, they have the graphic quality of drawings, and the merging of young girl’s heads with aviary studies are suggestive of an other worldly relationship between the two.

"A" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x12in, acrylic on canvas (2017), $500 |  BUY NOW

"A" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x12in, acrylic on canvas (2017), $500 | BUY NOW

"I describe my work as a mixture of figuration and expressionism with an air of surrealism, where I project my individuality as a creator poetically and philosophically,” says Rodriguez. “I am interested in the connection between man and nature and everything that connects to both. I recreate this in a symbolic way and convert them into a scene with characters in ambiguous situations.”

The fantastical aspect of Rodriguez’ paintings are not removed from autobiography. We have accepted that dreams are always deeply revelatory, and the artist’s imagination becomes a bridge into that alternate world.

“This sample of my most recent work is a philosophical approach to those formal-poetic visions with which I'm reviewing my life. Each work becomes an illusion of alternate reality where I have fun with my unconscious and dialogue with my memories and shared memories in order to build an illusory present.”

"B" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017)   

"B" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017)
 

“From that I started to find my identity and prominence through artistic creation, and the physical and conceptual relationship between humanity and nature became the starting point. My work is a recreation symbolic of my personal experiences, the reflection of my life - my joys and sorrows, my loneliness and thoughts ...like the seasons of nature. My paintings present my intimate works from silence, where with my own angels struggle to break free from everyday life and thus recreate my passage through this world. My works are the ideal medium for channeling my interiority as creator; windows that open to the world, becoming the exact connection between the viewer and the artist - and in the end, both witness the magic.”

November 5 & 6,  Rodriguez will be participating in the 2017 Open Studio Weekend, presented by Louisville Visual Art and the University of Louisville’s Hite Institute for Art.

Age: 40
Hometown: Holguin, Cuba
Education: BFA, Fine Art Academy, Holguin, Cuba
Gallery Representation: Revelry Boutique Gallery
Website: www.juliocesart.com

"G" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017), $400 |  BUY NOW

"G" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017), $400 | BUY NOW

"B (detail)" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez

"B (detail)" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez

"E" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017), $400 |  BUY NOW

"E" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017), $400 | BUY NOW

"C" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017)

"C" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017)

"F" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017)

"F" by Julio Cesar Rodriguez, 8x8in, acrylic on canvas (2017)

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

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Photography

Vignette: Mitch Eckert


Art ,“born out of frustration,” — Mitch Eckert


Like many artists, Mitch Eckert works in several different veins. Here we examine some examples from his Translations series. Eckert explains that he has been exploring the genre of still life for 25 years, and in these images we see him emulating the lighting in Flemish paintings. At one point Eckert had sought to discard the project and placed the work prints in a recycle bin – a purging action more common than the lay person might assume, but familiar enough to working artists. Eckert explains the process in his own words:

“Still Life with Cherries and Blue Bowl” by Mitch Eckert, 30x49in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $1200 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Cherries and Blue Bowl” by Mitch Eckert, 30x49in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $1200 | BUY NOW

“Still Life with Two Nectarines” by Mitch Eckert, 38x26in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $850 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Two Nectarines” by Mitch Eckert, 38x26in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $850 | BUY NOW

“The Translations series was born out of frustration. I wanted to participate in a dialogue with the rich tradition of the Dutch masters of still life painting so I set out to learn compositional strategies of creating still lifes in that manner. I set up the floral arrangements (my wife made the bouquets from our garden flowers) and using natural light made probably 300 photographs of different still life. After printing them all on an inexpensive inkjet printer to pin them on my wall and contemplate, I came to the realization that perhaps they were too commercial, too pretty. As a student in the heyday of Postmodernism (1980's) I became anxious and nervous about making work that was too pretty. I didn't know how to talk about them. I didn't want to make commercial work.”

“Out of frustration I wadded up the prints and threw them into the recycle bin. After a couple weeks had gone by I was getting ready to set the crumpled photographs into the alley for the recycle to be picked up. I unraveled one of the balls of photographs and to my surprise there was an immediate visceral reaction of delight when my eyes looked at the creases, folds, and torn edges of the photographic paper. In an effort to preserve the image I scanned the crumpled still life with a flatbed scanner and then, using a large format printer, made enlargements on a wonderful printmaking paper that wonderfully complimented the aged wrinkles.”

“Still Life with June Bouquet, Cherries and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $450 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with June Bouquet, Cherries and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $450 | BUY NOW

The results blur the lines of the medium by removing the slick surface and detail of photography and exchanging them for a distressed visual texture. Without intending to do it, Eckert brought his images even closer to the aged and brittle tactile reality of their inspiration.

Examples of this series can currently be seen in Altered Perceptions, an LVA Photo-Biennial Exhibit at Metro Hall, which runs through January 12, 2018. Some of the images we see here are featured in that show, which also includes work from C.J. Pressma and Jenny Zeller.

The artist currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is an associate professor or art in the Hite Institute at the University of Louisville. His work can be found in permanent collections of 21c Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Photographic Archives at the University of Louisville, and Swope Museum of Art.

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Education: BFA, Photography & Sculpture, Herron School of Art; MFA, Photography, Printmaking, Art History, Ohio University
Website: http://www.mitcheckert.com

“Still Life with Hydrangea (in blue)” by Mitch Eckert, 30x28in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $750 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Hydrangea (in blue)” by Mitch Eckert, 30x28in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $750 | BUY NOW

“Still Life with Lily and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $500 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Lily and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $500 | BUY NOW

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

Are you interested in being on Artebella?  Click here  to learn more.

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