collaboration

Mixed Media

Feature: The Value of Being Knocked Off Your Axis

Panoramic shot of the Pairellels exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Panoramic shot of the Pairellels exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Complacency is the enemy of creativity. The very real and honest expression that authentic artists require of themselves demands challenge and occasionally it is important to upset the apple cart a little bit in order to rediscover the muse.

Curator & Artist, Stacey Reason

Curator & Artist, Stacey Reason

A 2013 exhibit at The Patio Gallery in the Jewish Community Center illustrated the idea in pointed fashion. As curated by Stacey Reason, the show, which was titled Pairallels, was described as a “collaborative exchange” in its prospectus materials, a sharing of work in the form of a hand-off from one artist to another, with virtually no restriction on what the second artist would bring to the effort. The prospectus used the word “subtract” to suggest what might be allowable for one artist to do with another artist’s unfinished work, and what resulted in some instances was a complete deconstruction of the original piece, as well as a sharp lesson in how two different generations of artists tend to define the word collaboration.

Artists who contributed to Pairallels were Brandon Bass, Andy Cozzens, Sarah Duncan, Mallorie Embry, Linda Erzinger, Meghan Greenwell, Brandon Harder, Phillip High, Mary Dennis Kannapell, Shohei Katayama, Keith Kleespies, Sally Labaugh, Kathy Loomis, Kacie Miller, Karisssa Moll, Jacque Parsley, CJ Pressma, Kelly Rains, Lelia Rechtin, Alli Wiles, Jenny Zeller and Suzi Zimmerer.

Ms. Reason is a founding member of The Louisville Artist’s Syndicate, an ad hoc group of young and primarily visual artists whose mission is to inspire and promote networking between what they felt was a disparate collection of painters, sculptors, filmmakers, musicians and writers, all working in the Louisville area but lacking the connectivity necessary to accomplish greater things. The group, active at the time, has become dormant in the years since.

Dead Machine, Jenny Zeller & Mallorie Embry, digital photography printed on mulberry paper dipped in encaustic wax, vellum, sewing patterns, thread, canvas, nails, paper, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Dead Machine, Jenny Zeller & Mallorie Embry, digital photography printed on mulberry paper dipped in encaustic wax, vellum, sewing patterns, thread, canvas, nails, paper, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

By contrast, an older generation of Louisville artists, many of them members of the informal “Artists’ Breakfast Group”, had for many years enjoyed a camaradarie and interconnectivity that might be a model of what the Syndicate hoped to foster among its core constituency: a flow of energy and understanding that makes it easier for creative individuals to support each other. The Patio Gallery’s director at the time, Bette Levy, had been a long-standing member of this group and invited Reason to mount her exhibit there.

In today’s creative culture, it is more difficult than ever to characterize any group of artists collectively as having a shared sensibility, but the more prominent members of the Syndicate were preoccupied with art that is of the moment: ephemeral, fluid, and at times limited in its concern for archival survival. Another exhibit that year at Spalding University’s Huff Gallery featured two Syndicate members, Andrew Cozzens and Brandon Harder, whose bold sculptural forms relied on the effect of the elements and the passage of time for their full impact. Some of the pieces, for all intensive purposes, existed only during the duration of the opening reception. A delicate assemblage of wires frozen in pieces of ice and suspended on string, for example, were allowed to slowly descend off of the string while they melted. What remained for the subsequent run of the exhibit were the underwhelming remnants of wire and string that lighted onto the gallery shelf beneath. What interests these artists is the specific process of change and deterioration, not a final, marketable, objet d' art. The approach is fascinating but it risks occupying the same place in the cultural memory as a good joke badly-retold: I guess you had to be there.

C.J. Pressma & Kelly Rains discuss the project in front of their piece. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

C.J. Pressma & Kelly Rains discuss the project in front of their piece. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Whereas the breakfast group, for the most part, makes art in a more traditional context, paintings, prints, and sculptures created, at least in part, with an eye on the marketplace. Most have been doing this for many years, and their body of work can often define them in very specific terms, a signature style that might be immediately recognizable when you enter a gallery. Jacque Parsley's assemblages and C.J. Pressma’s photographic quilts are but two examples of art that is sought after by collectors and marketed at premium prices, reflecting the quality of the work and the esteem in which these artists are held.

Both are valid perspectives, but once artists from both pools were drawn into the Pairallels project, perhaps it was inevitable that some level of disagreement would follow. "My idea was to let the art speak for itself," explains Reason. "It was supposed to be about the object, but it wound up being entirely about the artist."  By design, there was no input between the individuals sharing the work, and apparently none of the artists saw the final results before the opening reception in June.

Grocery Store Mandala II, Kathy Loomis & Kelly Rains, grocery packaging, paper, chili peppers, found objects, fabric, wire, panel, paper, ink, acrylic, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Grocery Store Mandala II, Kathy Loomis & Kelly Rains, grocery packaging, paper, chili peppers, found objects, fabric, wire, panel, paper, ink, acrylic, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Among the breakfast group there were mixed reactions, including shock and outrage from a small number at what must have seemed a violation of their personal artistic integrity. In a few instances the piece from the first stage was physically deconstructed and enough parts discarded to render the source nearly unrecognizable. Elements were identifiable but the hand of the receiving artist might be said to have obliterated the original creative intent. Some tempers flared and some heads were scratched, mostly from within the breakfast group.

When, a few weeks later, there was an opportunity to sit down and talk it out, what was interesting was how much the conflict had turned into an opportunity for most of the participants. Creative types often like to indulge in a certain amount of denial that there is any gap between artists owing to generational differences, yet the reality of two distinct mind-sets about how visual artists approach their careers was obvious. During a meeting at one of the artist’s studios, the outrage was absent, replaced by an admission of recalcitrance from some, an expansion of perspective from others, and, arguably, enlightment all around. Some of the younger members spoke of the lack of attachment to the objects that they had fashioned and how they were sometimes excited to see the drastic alterations that had been employed once they passed off their work, while some in the breakfast group emphasized how they had chosen to dive into the project because, “...doing the same thing I had been doing”, wasn't good enough.

Synthesized Fang, Shohei Katayama & Alli Wiles, enamel, snake skin, beer cans, hot glue, wood, black primer, polyurethane, tracing paper, ink, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Synthesized Fang, Shohei Katayama & Alli Wiles, enamel, snake skin, beer cans, hot glue, wood, black primer, polyurethane, tracing paper, ink, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Coming away from the experience, the lessons may be as varied as the individual sensibilities that populate both groups of artists. Breakfast members had come together out of an attraction to build a social context for like-minded artists who were rarely critical but always supportive of each other, while the Syndicate reinforced an aesthetic that embraces the notion that being knocked a little bit off your axis is sometimes a healthy thing.

Four years later, Reason reflects back on Pairallels: “The project was a great learning experience for everyone involved, myself included. I had no idea what kinds of outcomes to expect, and what happened was far more than what I could have anticipated. The dialog that was created surrounding the project was very productive - it gave a fresh look at individual studio practices, reminded us all of our potentials, and pushed everyone out of their comfort zone, which invariably made us all more comfortable in our individual practices. It was very rewarding to serve as the catalyst of this conversation that I think is still being carried out today in some form or another. If nothing else, it brought together two important groups/generations of artists in Louisville that hadn't intersected before.”

Pairallels was on display June 16 through July 16, 2013, in The Patio Gallery at the Jewish Community Center, Louisville, KY.

Stacey Reason is now the Director of the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Kentucky.

"Localized Cosmic Reactions (snapshots of the universe)" by Karissa Moll & Philip High. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

"Localized Cosmic Reactions (snapshots of the universe)" by Karissa Moll & Philip High. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Time and Space, Sarah Duncan & Jacque Parsley, photography, fabric, lace, trim, found objects, clock, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Time and Space, Sarah Duncan & Jacque Parsley, photography, fabric, lace, trim, found objects, clock, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

"Orbit" by Mallorie Embry & Shohei Katayama. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Philip High)

"Orbit" by Mallorie Embry & Shohei Katayama. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Philip High)

"Untitled", 12x20in, collage and gold paint on acrylic plastic. Price not available (Photo courtesy Kelly Rains)

"Untitled", 12x20in, collage and gold paint on acrylic plastic. Price not available (Photo courtesy Kelly Rains)


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 are copyright © 2017 Keith Waits. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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

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

Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting

Feature: The Future Is Now, Part 2 of 2

Getting Down To Business

LVA is really stepping up to fill a need in a time when support for art is on a decline in schools. It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of helping our community grow. It’s something that is very important to me personally, and I’m glad that there are others out there that feel the same so we can collectively do things much bigger than we could ever do on our own.
— Daniel Pfalzgraf (2016 artist mentor)
"Horny Sea Puppy #1" by Jake Ford (Mentor), fleece, hand dyed cotton, and polyfi (2015)

"Horny Sea Puppy #1" by Jake Ford (Mentor), fleece, hand dyed cotton, and polyfi (2015)

The Future Is Now is a program that pairs aspiring young artists with adult, working artists so that they might provide an example by working together on projects that will be exhibited at the end of the process. Facilitated by LVA Director of Education and Outreach Jackie Pallesen in conjunction with Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University (KyCAD), the program selects students through an application process each year. Pallesen gathers a pool of prospective mentors for the students to choose from - working artists whose work and/or studio practice will complement the young artist’s creative talents.

Andrew Cozzens, KyCAD Assistant Professor and manager of the school’s 849 Gallery, was a mentor in the first year, and the experience motivated him to work with Pallesen to forge a formal collaboration on the program. Now many of the combined meetings, which began on May 30, take place in KyCAD studios, with all the efforts culminating in an exhibit that opens July 20 in the 849 Gallery.

On July 11, Cozzens shepherded the group through the final critique, imposing strict time limits to structure the discussion. “This is how we do it in classes here at KyCAD,” he explained, underscoring the intention of the program to prepare the students to function most effectively in a real-world environment with other artists. Most of the mentors spoke, some framing their pairings individual experience before letting the student take over.

Although there is painting and drawing in the work, it was mostly untraditional, using unconventional substrates and illustrating a high degree of experimentation resulting from the interaction between mentor and mentee.

Mentor, Bobby Barbour & Mentee, Brittney Sharp

Mentor, Bobby Barbour & Mentee, Brittney Sharp

Brittney Sharp and I are a great match for this project, both as individuals and creatives. Brittney’s work mainly consists of illustration, but she wishes to try new mediums. I was about her age when I started to branch out from drawing, thanks to a student teacher’s assignment that pushed me to try new media. I’m really thankful for the experience and for that teacher challenging me. My hope is to be that person for Brittney, supporting her in expanding her definition of art and how to create it.
— Bobby Barbour

If the student artists were ever shy about discussing their work in such a format, they were pretty much over it by this meeting. Sunny Podbelsek was highly articulate in deconstructing her process, explaining the very specific emotions that her images were meant to express, while her mentor, Lauren Hirsch, was content to take a back seat in the presentation, only interjecting some observations towards the end of their time.

Working with Sunny Podbelsek has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have learned a lot from Sunny and enjoy facilitating her creative process. Pushing her to explore different processes helps me reflect on my own work from a new perspective, and the shared energy of the collaborative process gives me a renewed sense of excitement to explore new ideas in my own work.
— Lauren Hirsch
Mentor, Lauren Hirsch & Mentee, Sunny Podbelsek

Mentor, Lauren Hirsch & Mentee, Sunny Podbelsek

Hannah Lyle and Dominic Guarnaschelli described how their images, portraits of family members painted on transparent plexiglass, would be hung from a sculptural apparatus attached to the ceiling, and how they were hoping to have some reflection, or shadows, cast on the gallery walls if the lighting could be managed.

From the start I was immediately impressed with Hannah. Very sharp and eager to dive in, Hannah was overflowing with ideas for our collaboration and ready to learn new skills and work with unfamiliar media. Hannah has been open to experimentation and incorporated other interests in math and science during this process. Throughout the summer, I was very struck by Hannah’s confidence. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Hannah.
— Dominic Guarnaschelli

Deb Whistler and Rashad Sullivan showed what felt like nearly finished twin B&W self-portraits that were striking in their consistency. Working from photographs they took together, the drawings incorporated autobiographical text painstakingly rendered into the background, a feature inspired by their conversations together.

Rashad and I spoke quite often, sometimes by phone, and I loved the stream-of-consciousness in the way he talks.
— Deb Whistler

The final instruction for the evening was for each pair to place themselves in the gallery in the place they imagined the work would be presented, so that Cozzens could discuss specifics of installation. It was interesting that no pair had selected the same spot, and that the mentors had already discussed hanging and placement with the students as the work developed.

All of the work will be installed by the group before the opening reception for the exhibit, which is July 20, 5-7pm at KyCad’s 849 Gallery.

Anyone interested in participating in the 2018 Future Is Now can find more information on applying at this link: http://www.louisvillevisualart.org/the-future-is-now

Guarnaschelli's (Mentor) Studio

Guarnaschelli's (Mentor) Studio

"Drawing 1" by Lauren Hirsch (Mentor), 24x36in, mixed media, $550 |  BUY NOW

"Drawing 1" by Lauren Hirsch (Mentor), 24x36in, mixed media, $550 | BUY NOW


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.

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

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

Public Art, Conceptual

Q&A: Todd Smith


“I am increasingly interested in developing projects that engage the community…”
— Todd Smith


Louisville artist Todd Smith is currently an Adjunct instructor at Bellarmine University and Indiana University Southeast. He is now in the prototype phase of an ambitious public art project commissioned through Louisville’s Commission on Public Art’s (CoPA) ARTmovesLOUISVILLE alternative transportation project initiative. His project, Bike Sense Louisville, will need over 100 citizen cyclist volunteers to use custom sensor units to track their bike usage around the city for one year. He took the time to answer questions about his work and this unique project.

Where did the idea for Bike Sense originate? How long have you been developing the project?

Just after completing my MFA in Buffalo, NY last spring I got an email from Sarah Lindgren from CoPA about their latest public art call for proposals. The theme was ARTmovesLOUISVILLE, with a focus on projects that engage and educate the public in alternative transportation issues in the city. I was moving back to Louisville and excited to have the opportunity to potentially participate in the city’s growing public art programming.

From the call, I began to think about biking and biking infrastructure. I am an avid biker and have been trying to get lost all over Louisville since I was a kid in the Goose Creek neighborhood. Since then I have lived in 7 different neighborhoods in the city and watched the infrastructure change. I commend the city and the last couple of mayors on their initiatives to make Louisville more bike friendly, but I have also seen the efforts come slowly and with mixed results. I have experience biking in Portland, Oregon, and New York City, where separated bike lanes and bike sharing have been well funded and implemented. Louisville has a bike share program that I have rarely seen used and painted bike lanes that many cars ignore. I wanted to come up with an idea that would help the city get more information about bike usage that could be used to raise awareness about biking in the city and potentially be used to improve bike infrastructure.

My most recent projects in grad school were based around data and sensor technology. I had created a glove with pressure-sensitive fingertips, which in its prototype phase, measured the quality of a handshake. The intention is to create a pair of pressure-sensitive gloves and shoes that can measure the relative distributions of pressure in a tree climb and give it to multiple climbers to see how climbing techniques vary.

In my thesis project I embedded an accelerometer into a large Y-shaped branch that was attached to a sturdy steel frame. I placed that branch in the center of an abandoned grain silo and invited people to climb onto it. As they moved and shook the branch the lights in the silo would flicker and a hidden subwoofer would rumble at very low frequencies. The intent was to make the participant feel as if their movement on the tree branch was causing the destruction of the silo. Essentially it’s an interactive metaphor for the history of the industrial site: man makes concrete silo infrastructure, industry booms and busts, vegetation begins to spread across the site inserting roots into cracks allowing water and rust to slowly destroy it.

My idea for Bike Sense Louisville is to take sensor technology and give it to citizen cyclist volunteers, collect their usage over one year, and interpret that data into a real-time sound work that will be broadcast on the Big Four Bridge. In a way, it is a combination of the two previous projects I described, only it’s about micro-measurements of where people are biking and creating a responsive sound piece that draws the public’s attention to bike usage and infrastructure. I also want to add ambient temperature and carbon monoxide sensors in an attempt to see how weather is changing across the city, as well as monitoring the worst part of car exhaust. Then at the end of the year-long project, the entire dataset will be open and available for anyone to see and use, and maybe even help to determine ways of improving Louisville’s bike paths and routes.

I submitted my idea to CoPA in June 2016. I then was selected to develop a more detailed proposal and budget in the fall. CoPA helped to facilitate meetings with members of the city from their bike program, innovation, parks and more. I also met with the Louisville Waterfront Corporation who graciously agreed to broadcast the project on the pedestrian bridge. Then on December 12th I presented my project to the public art commission committee. The project was approved and the prototyping and marketing phase is beginning now. We hope to launch the project with 100 cyclist volunteers by late summer.

You’ve secured support from Metro Louisville and the Commission on Public Art? How are they helping?

CoPA is funding the project, helping to organize PR, public outreach, and facilitating partnerships with the Louisville Waterfront Corporation, Bike Louisville, and more to make sure the project is successful. They will also start a speaker series this summer to be held at Metro Hall and I hope to participate and present the project in relation to art and infrastructure.

This is pretty conceptual with a capital “C”, was it difficult to get that level of municipal involvement?

The most difficult part of the project is explaining how the technology will work and be translated into art. Once I broke it down to the basic concept and explained the possible benefits from such a massive dataset, the project was very well received. The sound portion will be accessible and the complexity of sound will directly relate to the level of bike usage. No bikers = no sound. A few bikers = simple sounds. A lot of bikers in a lot of different locations = lots of sounds...and all in the vein of a wind chime or wood blocks. I control the harmony and chords so that the differing sounds firing at random will work together, just like the tones of a wind chime are made of notes in a harmonious chord. It involves public interaction, citizen science, and lots of potential for public good. I didn’t find that it was difficult at all to get people on board.

You are asking for volunteers who use bicycles on a regular basis? What is it exactly you need them to do?

First, I am asking all interested cyclists of all kinds go to bikesense.net and fill out a volunteer survey. I am interested in seeing who you are, where you live in the city, how often you bike, where you bike, etc. Then I will select 100 volunteers that best represent all the different kinds of Louisville bikers, plus a waiting list. Then I will hand out the sensor units to the volunteers with these instructions:

  • Use the sensor unit whenever you bike.
  • Keep the sensor unit charged.
  • Return if it stops working or you no longer wish to participate.

Your work is very focused on the subject of urban ecology, and is dominated specifically by trees. This is relative to that, but also different. How would you characterize the relationship between this and your previous work?

During my time in Buffalo I made the conscious decision to expand my practice beyond tree-climbing. I believe this was a natural evolution from all my time in the treetops, seeing all the ways in which humans impact trees and natural spaces. A large part of my Daily Climb project involved walking, biking, and driving around Louisville in parks and neighborhoods to find trees to climb.

Over the many years climbing, my observation of trees inspired me to research the heat island effect, tree canopy studies, writings about invasive plants vs. native, tree and urban ecology, previous weather disasters and floods, and more. I also spent countless hours up close with varying infrastructure in the city. In learning how every creature, plant and thing are connected in our ecology, I found more and more ways to approach making art that draw attention to our impact on our environment. When it all comes down to it, I still love trees and believe that the more people bike instead of drive and the more people support initiatives to improve bike infrastructure, the better the trees will be.

I also believe the more people in the community become directly involved in issues like alternative transportation and collecting data about bike usage, getting their hands dirty planting trees with groups like Louisville Grows, the more they will care about their city. Most of my previous work was about me and my personal experiences climbing. I am increasingly interested in developing projects that engage the community in activities that can provide positive results.

Tell us about an important moment of transition for you as an artist?

I have experienced 3 important transitions as an artist. The first happened in undergrad in 2002 when a visiting artist challenged me to share my perspective as a climber. From that moment forward I stopped drawing and painting and started using whatever means necessary to share my experiences climbing trees.

The second was when my Daily Climb project ended in July of 2010. It was unexpected, incredibly sad, and my obsession was broken. It was a relief, but also such a hard place to rebuild after so long. It has taken me since then to slowly let go of my identity as strictly the tree-climbing guy. I still haven’t let it go completely.

The last transition just recently happened in grad school. I came into my first year ready to discard tree climbing and start new. The first year beat me down, confused me, and cornered me into re-embracing tree climbing again. Then finally, one month before my thesis exhibition was to open in my last semester, I had an on-site meeting with my 3 committee members. They finally saw my idea to share my tree-climbing experience with projection and virtual reality in an abandoned grain silo and they all thought it wasn’t right for the site. They challenged me to reassess. I went back to the drawing board, spent hours walking the site, and through some research and countless discussions and writing and sketching, I came up with an idea with two weeks left. It still may have had an element of trees and climbing, but it went beyond sharing my own perspective as a climber. I finally moved on. It allowed me to create works focused outward. It’s where I find myself now.

What's the most challenging part when starting on a new work?

Every project presents different challenges at different times in the process. I’d say for Bike Sense Louisville, my challenge was how I would translate the data into sound. I went to a Sound Builders meeting at LVL1 Hackerspace and asked them about programs that can translate data streams into sound, and someone recommended Pure Data. This open source programming language has been around for a while and is incredibly flexible. I started teaching myself by watching YouTube tutorials and fell in love with it. It’s been a steep learning curve but it has been really exciting to add another tool to my toolkit.

Plus, every new language or skill I learn I look for opportunities to include it in my teaching. My students teach me so much in return when I see what they do with these skills. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to teach Pure Data and physical computing using sensors. Teaching and creating has really become a rich back and forth.

Given how project oriented you work is, how long do you usually spend on a specific piece?

This is a difficult question to answer. I suppose there is no “usual.” At times, I have felt frustrated when I compare my productivity to other artists who work in more traditional media. I see them pumping out a series of paintings or object-based work they can do by themselves and I feel the pressure to be as prolific. But I don’t usually work in a studio where I can go and make something. I am more interested in larger projects that are outside and involve long periods of learning new technology and working with other people. I finally came to accept that I work a different way and that’s okay. That’s why I have really come to enjoy teaching at a University. It allows me to fulfill my teaching passion as well as make connections with students and faculty that might be interested in collaborating. The time in the classroom feeds my art while also providing a way to support projects that don’t always pay.

"the GOOD GUY glove" by Todd Smith (2015) |  Click here  to learn more about this project

"the GOOD GUY glove" by Todd Smith (2015) | Click here to learn more about this project

That being said, I recently participated in one of Zephyr Galleries Project shows with a series of photographs called Conic Sections . The series was inspired by my hobby of doing parkour. I had discovered that I could use my iPhone to take panoramic pictures, but rather than scan from side to side, I would arc backward or scoop the phone in a “U” shape and get really interesting images with 2 horizons. I asked a close friend to do parkour through spaces around Louisville and New Albany while I shot the pictures. He was often in the picture 2 or 3 times in different locations, moving as I slowly bent over backwards. The results were really disorienting and playful.

It all depends on the idea I suppose. That idea came to me one day walking around in a park and playing with my phone. The moment I realized I could capture two horizons I had the idea in a flash. I scheduled the shoot, spent a few hours shooting and then ordered the prints from the best few shots.

Other project ideas pop into my head at random moments and I keep a list. Then when opportunities present themselves like public art calls, I look back at my previous projects and my list of ideas and see if any apply or can be tweaked or altered to fit. The bike project wasn’t something I had thought of before, but elements of previous projects helped form the final concept.

How do you feel about local art scene in Louisville? Would you change anything about it?

I see two sides to the art scene here. One, it’s cheap to live and still relatively cheap to rent studio space. The culture is supportive of the arts and there is more and more programming going on with public art. Plus, with U of L and IUS and Bellarmine and KyCAD there are programs producing young artists...I just don’t know where they go after they graduate.

The flip side is that there is a very small group of people/collectors who support all the arts in the city. It doesn’t seem like Louisville is a draw for outsiders to look in and see what’s happening here. That means it’s up to us artists to look elsewhere for opportunities. And then many leave. Because of that, great galleries and art spots like Land of Tomorrow are forced to close. I love the energy that Dan Pfalzgraf is bringing to the Carnegie in New Albany.

He’s trying new things, getting local institutions and artists involved, and he’s especially open to young, local talent. It would be great to see all the curators from all the local museums and cultural institutions get more hands on with local artists and include them in programming. I assume it is happening more than I know and am just not aware of it.

Another example I did recently see was Human Abstract at the Kentucky Center put on by Louisville Ballet. It featured the collaborative work of Tiffany Carbonneau, Andrew Cozzens, and Ezra Kellerman, and the show was amazing! I really appreciate that these kinds of opportunities are coming to local artists. I guess it’s up to me to stay plugged in and make sure I am not missing more of these opportunities to get out and support my fellow artists.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 35
Education: MFA, Emerging Practices, University at Buffalo, NY, 2016; BA, Studio Fine Art, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, 2003
Website: http://www.toddcsmith.com

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

"Inward Out: Spontaneous Reverberations" by Todd Smith (Exhibited on April 30th 2016 at Silo City in Buffalo, NY) |  Click here  to learn more about his Master Thesis exhibition

"Inward Out: Spontaneous Reverberations" by Todd Smith (Exhibited on April 30th 2016 at Silo City in Buffalo, NY) | Click here to learn more about his Master Thesis exhibition

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

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Painting, Public Art

Feature: Murals Reflect A Spirit Of Collaboration

Karl Otta   at work on his mural at MAPPED OUT.

Karl Otta at work on his mural at MAPPED OUT.

All artists begin with a blank space - a page, a canvas, a block of stone. A wall is, in theory, no different: an open invitation to fill a space with creative design and expression. Yet perhaps it takes a little more vision to imagine filling the side of a building with something that is not a billboard. Instead of presenting the public with a commercial advertisement, why not something that captures the flavor of the neighborhood and inspires community engagement? 

Braylyn Resko Stewart puts the finishing touches on his MAPPED OUT mural.

Braylyn Resko Stewart puts the finishing touches on his MAPPED OUT mural.

Murals exist around Louisville; created by individual artists and often sponsored by community organizations and neighborhood groups, but these efforts, however laudable, are, by and large, disparate projects occurring without synchronicity. They are positive in their impact and done with the best of intentions, but what if these earnest initiatives could be expanded, and given infrastructure to support the desire?

In answer to those questions, Louisville Visual Art (LVA), in partnership with the Center for Neighborhoods, has launched MAP (Mural Art Program) a long-term, sustainable public art program that engages local businesses, professional artists, Louisville Metro, and the greater Louisville community in the creation of large-scale murals to celebrate our city's unique identity and enhance civic pride.

The collaboration was functionally born out of a mural project in Hikes Point in which CFN had engaged with artist Liz Richter to plan and execute a design on a lengthy expanse of wall on the Big Lots building at 3938 Taylorsville Road. In developing her proposal, Richter reached out to LVA’s Director of Education and Outreach, Jackie Pallesen. “That was in late Fall 2015,” remembers Pallesen. “Liz knew community outreach would be important. And she knew we had a lot of experience with that.”

Liz Richter details her Hikes Point Mural and the process behind the project.

That element of Richter’s proposal resonated strongly with CFN Director Tom Stephens, and after she was selected, the communication continued with LVA after both organizations found themselves crossing paths on the hunt for funding. Although CFN had an initiative for public art, P.A.I.N.T. (Producing Art In Neighborhoods Together), it still saw the use and value of collaborating with LVA. “We could have perhaps figured out the answers to some of he questions ourselves, but why not go to the experts instead?” explains Stephens.

Liz Richter working on the public mural at MAPPED OUT.

Liz Richter working on the public mural at MAPPED OUT.

Such a comment points to the shared elements of each organization’s mission, the need to empower diverse community voices while enhancing Louisville's public spaces through the visual arts, and how natural it is to pool resources to better accomplish that goal. Partnerships such as this are essential and becoming more and more common because they make sense. 

The Hikes Point project came about not long after the LVA education team’s research and development for MAP, which had included visiting neighboring cities and meeting with their counterparts in other organizations such as LexArts in Lexington and ArtsWave in Cincinnati. 

Synchronicity was also a factor in providing a first, official salvo in launching MAP, when Ashley Trommler of strADegy Advertising approached LVA with an original design for a mural, called “Flourish.” Trommler had been touring the city looking for just the right location for her inspirational message when she spied a large wall on LVA’s Portland location that felt perfect. 

Mural designed by Ashley Trommler and executed by Ashley Brossart & Alyx McClain. Located at Louisville Visual building in Portland (Louisville, KY).

Mural designed by Ashley Trommler and executed by Ashley Brossart & Alyx McClain. Located at Louisville Visual building in Portland (Louisville, KY).

The newly installed "Flourish" mural was painted by Louisville artists Ashley Brossart and Alyx McClain, and unveiled on July 28. "Flourish embodies the spirit of collaboration between LVA, Center for Neighborhoods and Louisville Metro. Having this mural on our building signifies our commitment to making Portland a creative hub for our city. MAP will create opportunities for local artists and business owners to enhance community engagement and development," said LVA Executive Director Lindy Casebier. 

Mo McKnight Howe, owner of Revelry Boutique Gallery and Board Member for LVA and the Fund for the Arts, worked with LVA’s education team on developing MAP, and organized a kick-off fundraiser at the Garage Bar on August 19 that featured live painting by artists, Karl Otto, Pat Stephenson, Alyx McClain, Ashley Brossart, Braylyn Resko Stewart, Vinnie Kochert, and Liz Richter, with the 8’ x 8’ panels being auctioned on-line during the event. Says How, “Art has a great affect in transitioning neighborhoods. Louisville needs more murals and MAP is the answer to this need.”

Vinnie Kochert at work on his mural at MAPPED OUT.

Vinnie Kochert at work on his mural at MAPPED OUT.

Artists at work on the mural at MAPPED OUT.

Artists at work on the mural at MAPPED OUT.


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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.


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

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