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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.

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Photography

Vignette: Brett Sutton


“The natural world is truly remarkable and we are an intimate part of this environment.” — Brett Sutton


"Neighborhood Runoff" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2016),   f  rom $85 and up |  BUY NOW

"Neighborhood Runoff" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2016), from $85 and up | BUY NOW

Photographer, Brett Sutton

Photographer, Brett Sutton

Even a casual study of these photographs from Brett Sutton reveal the common thread of patterns in nature. The black & white images of the city illustrate humankind’s imprint of construction on the urban landscape, the latticework reinforcement of a fire escape and the shadows cast by the late afternoon sun. Sutton crops the main support of the structure out of frame, lending it an unexpected tension.

“While working at Luna Lodge, an eco-lodge retreat on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, I was granted the opportunity to truly connect with the landscape, flora and fauna. The natural world is truly remarkable and we are an intimate part of this environment.”

Sutton’s images of the natural world share that same fascination with pattern, but the color places a greater emphasis on texture, and there is a more epic sense of composition in many of the pictures. He also seeks out unique vantage points; as he explains: “(they can be) hugely important when considering how one connects to and interprets reality, location, and relationship.” He achieves some mystery through abstraction, just as he cropped the fire escape, we here see two runners moving across a mercurial landscape that we can’t quite place, a scene bisected by an indefinable graphic element that visually appears to stop the joggers in their tracks.

"Costa Rican Leaf Cutter Ants" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), f  rom $85 and up |  BUY NOW

"Costa Rican Leaf Cutter Ants" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), from $85 and up | BUY NOW

“Not only is my zest for life and vitality enhanced through my creative pursuits but to my connections with others…location, and the environment as well. Whether working in film or digital photography, oil paint, or collages of the bark of decaying trees, I attempt to deliver messages of local-ism, connection to the land, and textural nuance.”

Hometown: Covington, Kentucky
Age: 29
Education: BA, History & Fine Arts from Xavier University (Cincinnati)
Website: https://brettmsutton.wordpress.com

"White Sands National Monument" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), f  rom $85 and up |  BUY NOW

"White Sands National Monument" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), from $85 and up | BUY NOW

"Fire Escape" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), from $85 and up |  BUY NOW

"Fire Escape" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), from $85 and up | BUY NOW

"Central Bridge: Newport, Kentucky" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), from $85 and up |  BUY NOW

"Central Bridge: Newport, Kentucky" by Brett Sutton, size made to order, film photography (2017), from $85 and up | BUY NOW

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

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Drawing, Painting

Vignette: Britany Baker

"Reflection" by Britany Baker, 108x25in, charcoal on paper (2016)

"Reflection" by Britany Baker, 108x25in, charcoal on paper (2016)

For the second year, Louisville Visual Art has selected a local artist to be the Featured Artist for the annual art[squared] Anonymous 8" x 8" Art Sale: Britany Baker.

"Above the Fray" by Britany Baker, 36x36in, oil on canvas (2017), $1800

"Above the Fray" by Britany Baker, 36x36in, oil on canvas (2017), $1800

While the sale will consist of 200 original 8” x 8” pieces by artists from around the region, it will also include this new, larger painting, “Above the Fray”, created by Baker just for this event. For anyone who has seen recent work by the artist, the depiction of a bird will come as no surprise. Baker’s paintings are much sought after by collectors, and the birds are especially popular. It is not difficult to see why.

Baker is known for abstract imagery based on natural forms, as described by Curator Jessica Bennett Kincaid: “…Baker’s fluid imagery saturates the viewer with a heightened connection to their environmental surroundings. Subtly creating an emotive relationship to singular aspects of the places we inhabit, these flowing abstractions allude to the collision of the natural world and human influence.“

Yet the aviary “characters” (they are not real birds) are a highly representational contrast to such work; an exquisite study of nature nestled in feathers that seem at once realistic and a ruse. Because of its position, the creature has the feeling of being in flight, yet the forms surrounding the head also give the appearance of being grounded. Baker creates a compelling tension between the intimacy of the detailed observation of the bird and the epic visual quality of the composition, playing with the viewer’s comprehension in a way that is irresistible.

Artist, Britany Baker

Artist, Britany Baker

Since December, Baker has worked full time as the Art Director for Red Pin Media, and is Vice-President at Art Sanctuary, a non-profit community-oriented arts collective supporting local visual, literary, and performing arts through events, promotion, and education.

art[squared]

All works donated to art[squared] will be exhibited anonymously and sold on a first-come, first-served basis at LVA's new location at 1538 Lytle Street on Friday, April 7th at 7 PM. The beauty of anonymous exhibition is viewers will be able to respond to the artwork on its merits alone, without prejudice or preference. Each 8” x 8” piece will be priced at $100. The work will also be on public display for one week leading up to the sale, and any unsold work for an additional week following the sale.

“Above the Fray”, by Britany Baker, will be sold through Silent Auction that will close out at 8:30pm on April 7, 2017. Opening Bid is $1000 and bids will be accepted in increments of $50. If you wish to make a bid before the event, email keith@louisvillevisualart.org with your name, mailing address, email, phone, and bid.

"Above the Fray (detail)" by Britany Baker, 36x36in, oil on canvas (2017)

"Above the Fray (detail)" by Britany Baker, 36x36in, oil on canvas (2017)

All proceeds benefit CFAC, which educates over 1,000 artistically talented and visually driven children annually in the Greater Louisville area. Last year, we were able to raise over $24,000 during art[squared]! This provided students with scholarships and helped offset instructor and supply costs in all 11 participating Kentuckiana counties!

“Little Bird” by Britany Baker, 8x8in, oil on canvas (2016) NFS - Sold at last years  art[squared]  event.

“Little Bird” by Britany Baker, 8x8in, oil on canvas (2016) NFS - Sold at last years art[squared] event.

We cordially invite you to the art[squared] Artists Reception & Preview Party on Friday, April 7th at 7 PM at LVA (1538 Lytle Street). A great opportunity to snag your favorite 8" x 8" before it's gone the next morning!

Hundreds of art works - the largest number of talented local artists to be found in one location – and each piece is ONLY $100.

For tickets and more details about the event visit:
http://www.louisvillevisualart.org/artsquared2017/

Hometown: Louisville, KY
Age: 46
Education: BFA with concentration in drawing and painting, Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Website: http://www.britanybaker.com/

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

"Aging" by Britany Baker, 24x36in, oil on canvas (2017), $485 |  BUY NOW

"Aging" by Britany Baker, 24x36in, oil on canvas (2017), $485 | BUY NOW

“Gentler” by Britany Baker, 26x26in, oil on canvas (2014), $450 |  BUY NOW

“Gentler” by Britany Baker, 26x26in, oil on canvas (2014), $450 | BUY NOW

“Amaryllis” by Britany Baker, 37x49in, oil on canvas (2015), NFS

“Amaryllis” by Britany Baker, 37x49in, oil on canvas (2015), NFS

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

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