hite institute

Fiber, Ceramics

Feature: Elmer Lucille Allen

On March 1, 2018, Louisville Visual Art will present Elmer Lucille Allen with the Legacy Award, in memory of Julius Friedman. This is a reprint of an Artebella Feature from February 2017. 

To purchase tickets, click  here .

To purchase tickets, click here.


"I love the academic environment. I am a perpetual student." — Elmer Lucille Allen


Artist Elmer Lucille Allen (Photo by Tom LeGoff)

Artist Elmer Lucille Allen (Photo by Tom LeGoff)

When Kentucky Center for African American Heritage Center Director Aukram Burton describes Elmer Lucille Allen as, “one of our Elders,” he is not just acknowledging that the ceramic and fiber artist is an Octogenarian. The term carries weight in various cultures, but in parts of Africa it specifically denotes a connection to ancestors, the dead who remain vested with mystical power in the kin-group, and the elder’s authority stems from the idea that they are representatives of the ancestors to the contemporary community.

Elmer Lucille Allen is as approachable and convivial as anyone you would ever meet, but she is a “senior” (the far less satisfying American appellation) who has never truly retired. She earned the gold watch, so to speak, after 31 years as a chemist at Brown-Forman, where she was the first African American chemist to be hired (in 1966). In the twenty years since she retired, she has established herself as one of the most important artists in Louisville and an important influence on succeeding generations.

In person, Ms. Allen is an archetypal matriarch, speaking in the unadorned but nurturing language you would expect from any great-grandmother. She exhibits little outward evidence of the depth of her academic background, the years spent as a community activist, and the position she occupies in local history; she never wears her ‘status’ on her sleeve. She puts it this way: “I take it as an honor because what I do is part of who I am.”

"Untitled ELA #5" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Shibori Wall Hanging Red Kona Cotton – Stitched Resist – Dyed Blue Price, $2000 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #5" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Shibori Wall Hanging Red Kona Cotton – Stitched Resist – Dyed Blue Price, $2000 | BUY NOW

“I became involved in the art scene in the early 1980s when Ken Clay, then head of Renaissance Development, held the first African American (AA) Arts Conference at the Galt House. After this conference, the Kentucky Coalition for Afro-American Arts, Inc. (KCAAA) was formed. I was the first and only president of this organization that lasted 10 years. When I decided that I did not want to continue as President, the treasury was donated to the Arts Council of Louisville. I was a charter member of the ACOL and a treasurer for four years.”

Ms. Allen states she has never felt a bias in the arts, but her history before she was an artist is another matter, and reflects the time. “Remember, I came up through a segregated system and did not have classes with a white person until I was a junior in college. I experienced racial difference when Nazareth College (now Spalding University) graduates in 1953 were looking for a place to host a graduation event. The event was eventually held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.”

“When I graduated I could not get a job as a chemist in Louisville. The only jobs available were teaching. My first job was as a clerk typist in Indianapolis, Indiana, at Fort Benjamin Harrison. There was bias on that job - one person from a city in Indiana had never been around a "colored" person, but you have to be who you are and stand up for what you believe. ‘Speak to a person even if the person does not acknowledge you.’” 

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Allen took her first pottery class at Seneca High School in the late 1970’s after her children were all grown and out of the house. She never gave empty nest syndrome a chance, following up with mold ceramics or pottery classes through JCPS and New Albany adult education. But this was still just the beginning: “Then I enrolled in a ceramics class at Metro Arts Center where I studied with Melvin Rowe. Also, while I was a student there I had the pleasure to meet Laura Ross, a national ceramic artist who encouraged me to take classes at the University of Louisville with internationally recognized ceramicist Tom Marsh.”

But studying ad hoc wasn’t enough, and, after retiring she decided to seek a masters in ceramics at U of L. It was while studying for her master’s that she was introduced to a second art media - fiber/textiles. “My thesis exhibition consisted of stenciled wall hangings and over 200 reduction fired porcelain sculptural boxes that were placed on boards on the floor, which meant you had to view the pieces while standing.”

Lucille Allen in a workshop (Photo by Aron Conaway)

Lucille Allen in a workshop (Photo by Aron Conaway)

Whatever racial or gender restrictions she encountered in her earlier life, Allen’s first years in the art world were mostly lacking in such difficulties. “I have not experienced any discrimination as a woman artist or as an artist of color. My work does not depict any culture - it speaks for itself. I create work that I enjoy making. I do not do commissions. I have been fortunate because I did not have to depend on selling art for a living. I retired in 1997 and have been volunteering in some capacity ever since.”

Yet she is not blind that many artists of color find it a challenge to reach wider audiences and secure their place at the larger community table, particularly in the visual arts world. “I think that one organization needs to take control. At the present every organization's president has their own agenda and is not looking out for other persons or organizations, and small organizations normally do not have a specific place, computer equipment, or expertise for such large undertaking.” 

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One of the values of being an Elder is that you have been a witness to the changes in the arts and cultural landscape that surrounds you. Allen can recount a time when there was much effort in the name of unity and inclusion. “Years ago, Louisville Visual Art had a large (non-digital) database of artists and arts organizations. The Kentucky Arts Council funded two directories of African American artists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Two conferences were held, one in Lexington, and one in Louisville. They conducted free workshops for the community at the Chestnut Street YMCA, West End branch of the YWCA, as well as other venues. Bale McKnight, who conducted drum making at the YMCA, created a drum that was in Chickasaw Park, which was the first public art project in the West End. KCAAA was the fiscal agent for Educations Arts and the dance group founded by Harlina Churn.” You see, Elders know the history.

So how does Louisville recapture that level of motivation again? What actions need to be taken today to build a functional community network? Allen feels, “Everyone is waiting for someone else to do the hard work,” but individuals who want to be leaders need to focus on developing their game in crucial ways; Elders also get to give advice:

  • Organizational and leadership skills are a must. 
  • You have to show up and be willing to assume responsibilities. 
  • You must not be afraid to fail. You learn from your mistakes.
  • You, as a leader, must be presentable and responsible for your actions at all times. Remember the golden rule - Do unto others as you want others to do to you.
  • You must be punctual.
  • Respect the time of others. Meetings should have an agenda and should not exceed two hours.
Untitled ELA #2" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 |  BUY NOW

Untitled ELA #2" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 | BUY NOW

So how does this near-iconic status affect Elmer Lucille Allen’s work as an artist? Or does it? “My work is not impacted by my place in history,” states Allen. ”The work that I have done since 1981 speaks for itself. I have been the volunteer curator/director of Wayside Christian Mission's Wayside Expressions Gallery since 2005.  My goal is to showcase artists, some of which have never exhibited. My second goal has been to have an African American artist or artists for February. I have done the scheduling, press releases, fliers, finding new artists, etc., from my home. I think my presence in the art world has afforded me the opportunity to be asked to serve as judge for the 2016 Fund for Arts, as a panelist for Metro arts grants, etc.”

“I think that over the years, the community sees who is where and what you are doing. Action speaks louder then words.”

Recognitions/Awards: 
Louisville Defender – Lifetime Community Service Recognition Award (2016)
Outstanding Community Leader by Metro Council (2016) 
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft’s First Art and Advocacy Award – Bourbon Bash (2015) 
Parkland Rising Up Project (2015) 
Community Spirit Award given by the University of Louisville College of Arts and Science and the Yearlings Club (2015) 
Spalding University Caritas Medal (2011) - the highest honor awarded to an alumnus 

"Untitled ELA #4 – Shibori Wall Hanging" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Natural Silk Noil – Three Panels - Stitched Resist and Pole Wrapped – Dyed Blue, $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #4 – Shibori Wall Hanging" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Natural Silk Noil – Three Panels - Stitched Resist and Pole Wrapped – Dyed Blue, $1000 | BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #1" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #1" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 | BUY NOW

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.

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

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

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

 

 

Ceramics

Feature: Tom Marsh Legacy


“By practicing a potentially usable art and by insisting on its usability, and the commonness and local peculiarity of his materials, he points it toward the older, finer, healthier sort of artistic success: that such excellent workmanship, such beauty and distinction, might again become ordinary.“ — Wendell Berry on Tom Marsh*


Artists, Ginny & Tom Marsh.

Artists, Ginny & Tom Marsh.

If past is indeed prologue, then perhaps we live in the present only by the leave of our ancestors; formative influences, and most especially our teachers. Tom Marsh was a teaching artist in the Greater Louisville area for more than 25 years, first at Silver Creek High School in his native Indiana during the 1960’s, and then as the founder of the Ceramics program at the University of Louisville’s Hite Institute for Art, where he taught until his death, in 1991.

It is also said, by those who loved and admired him the most, that he was demanding. Surely this is a requisite quality for any worthwhile mentor, and, from all accounts, Marsh set expectations as high for his own work as he did for anyone else, and the program he developed for U of L was unorthodox, moving beyond traditional studio parameters. Certainly experience has taught us that innovation often translates for some as ‘difficult’.

Marsh was raised by missionaries, and studied painting with Mary Spencer Nay at the University of Louisville. A missionary trip took him to Mashiko, Japan, where he ended up staying for several years, studying pottery with Sakuma Totaro (1900-1976), and learning various strands of Buddhism, most notably Rinzai. Once he returned to the U.S. he eventually resettled in Borden, Indiana, living his later years in adherence to ethical and spiritual practices born of his time in Japan, building an aesthetically spare house in the secluded woods that featured multi-functional space - the bed was raised on pulleys to make room for working.

Works by Marsh Pottery,   Install Image from UofL Faculty show (1984) . Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

Works by Marsh Pottery, Install Image from UofL Faculty show (1984) . Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

This holistic approach was indicative of what University of Louisville colleague and current faculty Jim Grubola calls the, “potter-philosopher” ideal that Marsh strived to embody. He brought it into his teaching, breaking out of the confines of the studio to instruct students in building outdoor kilns as a part of curriculum, a practice that brought many conflicts with both the Louisville Fire Department and University officials.

"  Approaching" by Marsh Pottery,   conjunction in situ (1992). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Approaching" by Marsh Pottery, conjunction in situ (1992). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

As for the work, Marsh’s ceramic pottery follows the Japanese aesthetic that finds beauty – “art,” in the strictly functional: large scale vessels for storage (because smaller pieces for daily use were commonly made from lacquer or wood), and tea pots. The full, earthen physicality might seem to contradict the western (mis) perception of delicacy as a defining characteristic of Japanese art; these are full, solid forms of visual and tactile weight. Their functionality never feels in question.

Another U of L associate, retired Print Faculty John Whitesell, describes how Marsh developed his techniques for the “expanded form jar,” in which the walls of the vessel are pushed to their limits and the outer surface begins to “crack”: “He would go beyond what you would imagine was possible… he would just keep working it, and working it.” The resulting complex, “fractured” surface texture became a trademark of Marsh’s work, a careful balance between structural integrity and creative aesthetic. However much the artist valued function, the rustic, earthy beauty of the work was always astonishing.

Whitesell also talks of “the anonymous potter,” which is a term that evolved when Marsh worked alongside his wife, Ginny Marsh. In the images of work shown here, from a 1984 sabbatical exhibit at U of L’s Schneider Galleries, all of the work is identified as simply Marsh Pottery, with no distinction given as to which Marsh created which piece. While there may be some who felt they could detect differences, Grubola, for one, could not be certain, because the nature of the vessels had gone in such an elemental direction: “Particularly towards the end,” says Grubola, “the work became more intuitive and less refined.”

"Mark" by Tom Marsh. Photo Courtesy of Hite Art Institute.

"Mark" by Tom Marsh. Photo Courtesy of Hite Art Institute.

Students came to U of L to study with Marsh specifically tolearn the Japanese-based techniques and life philosophy he expounded. Laura Ross, Wayne Ferguson, Sarah Frederick, Fong Choo, Pam Korte, Bran Hazelet, and Gwen Heffner are but a few notable potters for whom Marsh was a mentor, and many of them still live, work and teach in the area.

"Teapot" by Ginny and Tom Marsh

"Teapot" by Ginny and Tom Marsh

All of the concentration suggests that Marsh never did anything halfway. One of his teaching tools were sophisticated, multi-media presentations that he also took all around the U.S. at a time when such things were not common. “For someone so dedicated to a simple agrarian lifestyle,” remembers Whitesell, ”Tom was well-versed in technology, and had multiple projections fading in and out… synched to a pre-recorded soundtrack. It was very impressive.”

"These pots and cups and bowls are not busy calling attention to themselves as 'art objects.' Their preferred habitat is a kitchen, not a museum. They invite use. They are not just viewed. Viewing, by itself, will misunderstand them--just as, by itself, it
will misunderstand the food." — Wendell Berry

Examples of Marsh pottery are in permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in Kamajura, Japan.

Name: Tom Marsh (1934 -1991)
Hometown: Sellersburg, Indiana

The Marsh's 30 cubic foot cross draft salt kiln (c.1979). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

The Marsh's 30 cubic foot cross draft salt kiln (c.1979). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"  Approaching Conjunction"   by Marsh Pottery,   stoneware   (1984). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Approaching Conjunction" by Marsh Pottery, stoneware (1984). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Vase with Brass Rings" by Marsh Pottery, 14in H, coarse stoneware   (1973). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Vase with Brass Rings" by Marsh Pottery, 14in H, coarse stoneware (1973). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

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

*From “Tom Marsh/Potter: Twenty Three Years of Clay”, published by University of Louisville, 1979.

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Painting, Photography, Mixed Media, Digital

Vignette: Jacqlynn Hamilton


“Creating art evokes an emotional catharsis, and encourages emotional rejuvenation and transformation.” – Jacqlynn Hamilton


Hamilton in her studio.

Hamilton in her studio.

All art might be described to some degree as therapeutic; if an individual feels compelled to create, how could it not? The creative process always channels energy and reveals the character of the artist. Yet sometimes making art is an acutely self-aware journey of healing for both the artist, and the community that they reach. This is certainly the case for Jacqlynn Hamilton.

“I strive to incorporate the essence of aesthetic splendor visually, while displaying to the viewer what may be seen as slightly psychologically dark personal narrative. I cultivate eternal psychological images within my paintings in hopes to link the viewer to a personal introspection. By incorporating several levels of meaning, I hope can relate to work, yet still take away some notion of intrigue and ambiguity.”

“I also endeavor to include elements of womanhood conveyed in prescribed female gender roles, including being a daughter, sister, wife and mother. Symbols form most of the distinctive layers of psychological meaning. My intention is to try to incorporate symbolic meaning to as many objects within the piece, while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing visual whole; thus, allowing the piece to be appreciated on several different levels.“

"Angel" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, digitally manipulated photographic & mixed media (2017) $125 |  BUY NOW

"Angel" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, digitally manipulated photographic & mixed media (2017) $125 | BUY NOW

"White Rabbit (3 of 3)" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, blind embossing print (2016) $175 |  BUY NOW

"White Rabbit (3 of 3)" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, blind embossing print (2016) $175 | BUY NOW

Hamilton has spent several years working on a series titled, The Island of My Own Creation, which together forms a personal narrative depicting the realm of psychological disassociation. “Dissociation is a psychological coping mechanism to help minimize or tolerate conflict and stress in the outside world. The act of daydreaming is a mild form of dissociation, and the phenomena can even lead an individual to altered states of consciousness.”

In 2016, Hamilton was included in two exhibits at Kaviar Forge and Gallery, Kentucky Printmaking and Touched With Fire.

Hometown: Sarasota, Florida
Age: 38
Education: Fine Arts, Ringling College of Art, 2000; Fine Arts, JCTS (Louisville), 2012; Major in Fine Arts, University of Louisville’s Hite Institute
Website: http://jacq2di.wix.com/artist-painter

"Treva" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, digitally manipulated photographic image (2017) $125 |  BUY NOW

"Treva" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, digitally manipulated photographic image (2017) $125 | BUY NOW

"The White Rabbit" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 48x48in, acrylic on panel board (2016) $875 |  BUY NOW

"The White Rabbit" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 48x48in, acrylic on panel board (2016) $875 | BUY NOW

"Treva Blue" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, digitally manipulated photographic image (2017) $125 |  BUY NOW

"Treva Blue" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 8.5x11in, digitally manipulated photographic image (2017) $125 | BUY NOW

"Her Brother" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 11x17in, acrylic and mixed media (2016) $350 |  BUY NOW

"Her Brother" by Jacqlynn Hamilton, 11x17in, acrylic and mixed media (2016) $350 | BUY NOW

Painting, Drawing, Mixed Media, Sculpture

Vignette: Andy Cook

"China Girl" by Andy Cook, 30x40in, acrylic on metal (2016)

"China Girl" by Andy Cook, 30x40in, acrylic on metal (2016)

Andy Cook is a native Louisvillian who produces various forms of art. He has displayed his visual artwork across the country in numerous galleries. Andy is also a published author and musician who has performed his music and poetry internationally, recording several albums. By trade, Andy is a welder with over twenty years experience. His metal work spans between homes in San Diego with Skyhook, to traditional ornamental iron work with Pohl Iron Works, to his metal sculptures and high end functional art with Reclaimed Elemental Design. Andy is currently the shop foreman for the metal department at Core Design.

"I translate my dreams, impressions and thoughts into forms of visual art, music and poetry. I knew I was a visual artist from a very early age and by the age of 15 I was able to draw anything I could see. I have continued to develop my work by examining nature, the human form, and architecture through photo-realism, impressionism and metal sculpture. In whatever medium I choose - art keeps me grounded and dreaming at the same time." – Andy Cook

"A Moment" by Andy Cook, 36x40in, mild steel (2016)

"A Moment" by Andy Cook, 36x40in, mild steel (2016)

"Red Wine & Walnut" by Andy Cook, mild steel and walnut wood coffee table (2016)

"Red Wine & Walnut" by Andy Cook, mild steel and walnut wood coffee table (2016)

After spending time in Los Angeles, Andy and his wife Kelly Cook returned to Louisville to open Cook Studio & Gallery on Frankfort Avenue. Their current exhibit, Water is Life, opened October 28 and features work by Andy Cook.

You can visit Andy Cook in Cook Studio and Gallery on the east side of Louisville during OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND, November 5 & 6, 2016. The event benefits scholarship programs for Louisville Visual Art and University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute and tickets may be purchased here

Name: Andy Cook
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Website: http://www.cookstudioandgallery.com

"Dear Ocean, I love you" by Andy Cook, 16x20in, acrylic & oil (2016)

"Dear Ocean, I love you" by Andy Cook, 16x20in, acrylic & oil (2016)

"Old Man" by Andy Cook, 8x10in, ball point pen (2016)

"Old Man" by Andy Cook, 8x10in, ball point pen (2016)

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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.

Painting, Mixed Media, Photography, Ceramics

Feature: Building A Foundation At Art Sanctuary

"Branching Out" by  Britany Baker,  103x23in, charcoal on paper (2016)

"Branching Out" by Britany Baker, 103x23in, charcoal on paper (2016)

Photo by  Sarah Katherine Davis

Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis

One of the aspects of the art community that tends to be under appreciated is how much artists, especially visual artists do for themselves; taking care of business independently, often with a scrappy, can-do attitude. It happens often out of necessity, because social infrastructure and municipal support for such projects can be hard to come by, even in a city that prides itself on generations of support for local artists, but it also has always been a part of the counter-culture identity embraced by many younger artists, one in which integrity is equated with struggle.

I’m not sure that Lisa Frye and Britany Baker had any such thoughts in mind when organizing Art Sanctuary, the artist’s studio space located at 1433 South Shelby Street in the Germantown neighborhood. The current President and Vice-President, respectively, are overflowing with war stories of the constant uphill battle to make the dream a reality. But I guess if it were easy to build a vision, everyone would be doing it.

Frye, a visual artist, founded Art Sanctuary in 2004. Her first efforts were pop-up exhibits, or ‘art soirees’, as they became know, at locations such as River Bend Winery, Felice Vineyard, Flame Run, Petrus Nightclub, Main Street Lounge, Mellwood Arts Center, and many more. “That was back when art shows in coffee shops wasn’t even a thing yet,” remembers Frye. An attempt to secure a permanent space led to collaborations with The Alley Theater when they were occupying various spaces at The Pointe on East Washington Street, but the uncertainties of that circumstance led Frye to believe that Art Sanctuary needed to follow its own path. “We applied for and were granted non-profit status in 2006, but we still found ourselves with no place to show on a regular basis.”

Artist Victoria Klotz at work. Photo Sarah Katherine Davis

Artist Victoria Klotz at work. Photo Sarah Katherine Davis

It was in this period that Frye became involved with the Va Va Vixens, a neo-burlesque, vaudevillian style performance troupe who mount extravagant shows of music, dance, and acrobatics. Original founder Christiane Nicoulin moved on to other creative adventures and left Frye as Producer/Manager, writing and producing shows such as the upcoming yuletide holiday show, Va Va Festivus, at Headliners Music Hall, December 8 -10.

Frankie Steele at work. Photo by Brian Bohannon.

Frankie Steele at work. Photo by Brian Bohannon.

Enter photographer Frankie Steele, who was looking for a building to develop as a “maker space.” It’s a phrase that has gained currency in the intervening years, but Steele had managed Ice Box Co-Labs, an earlier co-working space on Main Street, long before the trend picked up steam in Louisville. He met Dennis Becker, who in 2008 had purchased the wedge-shaped building at 1433 South Shelby Street to use as a warehouse for his business, Voit Electric. Steele made a formal presentation to Becker outlining his vision for the building, and began work on the first spaces – studios for he and his wife, Baker, independently. The need for a non-profit organization to structure fundraising seemed important, and Baker reached out to her friend Lisa Frye about Art Sanctuary, which had no brick and mortar location. A union was born, and Steele and Baker joined the AS board in 2012. Scott Slusher joined shortly thereafter, and the first formal lease was signed as Art Sanctuary.

Artists Lisa Frye and Britany Baker. Photo by Frankie Steele.

Artists Lisa Frye and Britany Baker. Photo by Frankie Steele.

It is where Art Sanctuary now makes its home. The 26,000 square foot space seemed well suited to the two-fold mission to house individual artist’s studios and rehearsal/performance space. It came equipped mostly with potential, and multiple loading doors into a wide, high-ceilinged space and a second floor. The group started with just a few spaces, but it wasn’t long before landlord Becker opened up more space for them, until, in stages, they had a lease on the entire building. “Dennis has been terrific,” remarks Frye. “It really feels like he is on our side, and wants us to succeed.”

Baker estimates that Steele has personally been responsible for about 90% of the work that has been accomplished: “He envisioned the space as what it has become, built the stage, installed the fire-rated doors, designed and built the rolling gallery walls. He fixed everything that needed fixing, found deals on what we were missing, did all the heavy lifting - literally.” Frye concurs wholeheartedly: “Without Frankie, we would not be a fraction of what we are today.” Now the board numbers seven, with approximately sixty visual and performing artists involved.

The current entrance is from McHenry Street, on the southeast side, and this half of the building is devoted to visual art, with a spare gallery space and photography studio for rent by the hour on the first floor, and individual studio spaces upstairs. Many of the occupants are painters: Rita Cameron, Sabra Crockett, Victoria Klotz, Brittni Pullen, Kelly Rains, Shahn Rigsby, Nancy Ann Sturdevant, and Charlotte Pollock to name a few, mixed media artists Michael Braaksma, and Kate Mattingly, ceramicist Sarabeth Post, photographers Frankie Steele and Tony Dixon, can also be found there, and even one playwright and free-lance journalist who also works the arts and culture beat, Eli Keel. 

"March 30, 2016 1pm" by Charlotte Pollock, 16x20in, oil on canvas (2016), $350 |  BUY NOW

"March 30, 2016 1pm" by Charlotte Pollock, 16x20in, oil on canvas (2016), $350 | BUY NOW

On the Shelby Street side, a high and wide space that aches to be performed in stands idle while various permit issues wait to be resolved. The entry doors open into a suitable little box office nook, which spills into an ample lobby where Frye and Baker see a permanent gallery space. Beyond that stands an ample proscenium stage and floor that could likely accommodate several hundred seats. It will someday make a perfect home for Va Va Vixens, but for now it settles for prep space for multi-media artists like Ryan Daly, who is working on the upcoming Louisville Ballet production of Swan Lake

Photo by  Sarah Katherine Davis

Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis

How long it will take to fully realize Art Sanctuary’s potential in this facility is difficult to estimate. One of the challenges in adapting such an old building with so much history, and repurposing it for multiple uses, is that the past is revealed layer by layer, excavating a crazy-quilt legacy of zoning and renovations that did, or didn’t follow, regulations. “I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far,” exclaims Frye. Baker is slightly more philosophical about this moment for Art Sanctuary: “ It also feels healthy. It's like how you can intentionally stress a plant, by picking off the earliest buds or breaking branches to encourage a stronger, more stable foundation, then it flowers more beautifully than you ever thought it would.”

Art Sanctuary will once again be participating in Open Studio Weekend, November 5 and 6, sponsored by Louisville Visual Art and the University of Louisville’s Hite Institute. Participating Artists will include Britany Baker, Michael Braaksma, Rita Cameron, Sabra Crockett, Jada Lynn Dixon, Victoria Klotz, Samantha Ludwig, Kate Mattingly, Brittni Pullen, Shahn Rigsby, Frankie Steele, & Joseph Welsh. Three artists who have moved in since the original deadline for the event will also be working in their studios during those times. They are Nancy Ann Sturdevant, Charlotte Pollock, and Sarabeth Post.

"Through A Veil" by SaraBeth Post, 9x5.25in, lathe carved blown glass (2016), $500 |  BUY NOW

"Through A Veil" by SaraBeth Post, 9x5.25in, lathe carved blown glass (2016), $500 | 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.


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

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.