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Special, Photography

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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Illustration, Painting

Vignette: Lori Larusso


“I hope to provoke the viewer to consider the contradictions arising from our contemporary fixation with notions of health.“ – Lori Larusso


"Eating Animals (Broccoli Poodle)" by Lori Larusso, 19x10in, acrylic on shaped panel (2016), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Broccoli Poodle)" by Lori Larusso, 19x10in, acrylic on shaped panel (2016), price available on request

Vintage Poster by Unknown Artist

Vintage Poster by Unknown Artist

When you hear the term “political art”, what comes to mind? Campaign and propaganda posters from contentious times; “Buy Bonds” during World War II, “Join The Party” from Europe in the 1930’s - Iconic mileposts of social change. Yet, in the work of Lori Larusso we find social and political statements about food production and distribution in the U.S. that are as slick, clean and polished as the height of the form, but placed in a whimsical context that makes the message more approachable; couching the provocative in a comfortable mid-Twentieth Century aesthetic.

“Our unhealthy obsession with healthy food often masks the origins of its production,” explains Larusso. “It also fails to consider who has the financial means and access to consume foods defined as healthy. For those in need of assistance, state bureaucracy determines the affordability and accessibility of staple foods. WIC programs, for example, allow for the purchase of sugary breakfast cereals, while at the same time, refuse to allow for the purchase of organic dairy products and high quality all natural foods. These newest paintings are reflections on the disconnect between the disturbing realities of commercial food production and our often naive assumptions about the pastoral lifestyle of animals raised for consumption. Here, the presentation of the food images, (cagey, but carefully prepared and staged) calls to mind the desire to provide healthful foods for ourselves and families while evoking the contrasting reality, both the abusive treatment of animals in CAFOs and those unable to participate in the health market.”

Larusso's studio

Larusso's studio

The pieces are illustrative and narrative, but Larusso states that, “the tangible quality of finished pieces is tied more directly to a contemporary painting practice.” Digital images of the work don’t clarify that these pieces are acrylic painted on shaped panels, so, as is always the case, a proper reading of the work requires viewing it in person. Larusso’s work can be seen at this moment in three exhibits:

March 3 - April 29 -The Chamber of Golden Light & Eating Animals at James May Gallery: Algoma, WI

February 12 - March 18 - Art and Tart at KMAC Shop; Louisville, KY

January 19 - April 30 - Contemplation Consumed: Artworks by Johanna Goodman, Natsuko Hattori and Lori Larusso, Porter Contemporary; New York, NY

Hometown: Massillon, Ohio
Age: 36
Education: MFA, Interdisciplinary Studies- Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) BFA, Studio Art- University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning
Galley Representation: Skidmore Contemporary (Santa Monica, CA), Jordan Faye Contemporary (Baltimore, MD), Porter Contemporary (New York, NY)
Website: www.lorilarusso.com

"Eating Animals (Green Grapes Porcupine)" by Lori Larusso, 18.5x10.5in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Green Grapes Porcupine)" by Lori Larusso, 18.5x10.5in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Banana Dolphins)" by Lori Larusso, 24.5x12in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Banana Dolphins)" by Lori Larusso, 24.5x12in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Cucumber Shamu)" by Lori Larusso, 15x6in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Cucumber Shamu)" by Lori Larusso, 15x6in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Strawberry Mice)" by Lori Larusso, 16x7in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Strawberry Mice)" by Lori Larusso, 16x7in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Waffle Sea Turtle)" by Lori Larusso, 24.5x12in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

"Eating Animals (Waffle Sea Turtle)" by Lori Larusso, 24.5x12in, acrylic on shaped panel (2017), price available on request

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

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Painting, Illustration, Mixed Media

Feature: Michael John Braaksma


“What I’m doing 25 or 30 years later is an echo of what I did as a four year old…”
– Michael John Braaksma


Michael John Braaksma in his studio.  Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis for LVA.

Michael John Braaksma in his studio. Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis for LVA.

Michael John Braaksma is a sculptor, puppeteer, and a scenic and costume designer for theatre. In a curatorial statement, Braaksma described his practice; “His multidisciplinary approach to art-making blends drawing, painting, sculpture, illustration, puppetry, mask-making, theatrical design and art direction together to create spectacular visual narratives. Folk tales, oral narratives, and mythologies linking inhabitants with their land and culture are of particular importance to Michael’s work.”

Still from 'Unicorn Xing' Tyler McDAniel cinematographer. Puppets and Set by Michael John Braaksma.

Still from 'Unicorn Xing' Tyler McDAniel cinematographer. Puppets and Set by Michael John Braaksma.

He recently wrapped his first short film based around his puppetry, and is beginning to work on a children’s book. 

“I’m a visual story teller. That’s a description that fits the all encompassing approach to my work,” said Braaksma. 

In his studio, there are characters hanging from the walls; some are fully formed, some are just heads or faces. Many actually are puppets, but others are stand-alone art objects, some sized to be affordable at art fairs and events like the Flea Off Market.  Regardless of the artistic purpose of each character, they all seem ready to spring to life at any moment. “All my work has a strong sense of narrative,” said Braaksma. “They are all named, with rich back stories, and complex rationales as to why my little entities are here.”

The artist was born in Wisconsin, and comes to Louisville by way of Chicago, and time spent at Hope College in Michigan for a BA in scenic and costume design. In between Braaksma’s story takes a bit of a turn. “It’s essentially Mean Girls,” joked Braaksma, citing the popular film about a young American girl who grows up in Africa. 

"Memories of places I've never been" by Michael John Braaksma, 18x24in, acrylic on canvas, $400 |  BUY NOW

"Memories of places I've never been" by Michael John Braaksma, 18x24in, acrylic on canvas, $400 | BUY NOW

“When I was two, my parents decided they loved Jesus a lot, and became missionaries. They move the family to the Kenya-Somalia border, with no electricity or running water.” Braaksma lived in Kenya from age two to age nine and he says the time affected him greatly. “I’m doing some clay sculpture right now and it ties me back, there was a seasonal river where all the local children would sculpt animals, so what I’m doing 25 or 30 years later is an echo of what I did as a four year old kid in remote Africa.”

Braaksma believes in free sculpting each piece rather than casting his work. “I do everything free sculpting. Especially for the work I do, and the voice of the characters I’m drawing out, the idea of each form having its own shape and angle,” said Braaksma as he worked on a series of small unicorns he was preparing.  “Even though the work I’m doing now is related, it’s unique in a way, and I think there is a movement to those precious things.”

"Celestial Nymph" by Michael John Braaksma, 12x10x6in, paper mache, fur, found objects, $300 |  BUY NOW

"Celestial Nymph" by Michael John Braaksma, 12x10x6in, paper mache, fur, found objects, $300 | BUY NOW

Braaksma says “precious things,” and one can almost hear the capital letters; his ideas about precious things key into his belief that there is a reaction to large corporation and the “Big Box” lives of many Americans. They want smaller hand made items - Precious Things. 

In addition to informing his practice of sculpture, Braaksma says his time in Kenya changed the way he imagined. “Being so young and having such totally different extreme experiences of reality, it sort of shapes the imagination and what you see as possible. Reality and your existence seems more fluid when you’re used to stretching your brain at an early age, being bilingual and all that.”

"Wilbur the octopus" by Michael John Braaksma, 16x20in, mixed media on canvas, NFS

"Wilbur the octopus" by Michael John Braaksma, 16x20in, mixed media on canvas, NFS

For his recently wrapped short film, Braaksma, worked with local filmmaker Tyler McDaniel. Braaksma says the film reflects his own inner life. “It’s funny, but there’s some cynicism, as makers, people interested in our own narratives and our own sense of value, do we lose the context of seeing our selves as directional, are we missing the boat on where we’re going? I feel that way.” He added, “Sometimes my world become small and isolated.”

Braaksma believes that strong images, such as the handmade creatures and characters of his work, are necessary to reach modern audiences. “Strong visuals are so critical for pounding through this facade, the sarcasm or cynicism, or dismissive nature of story telling that has erupted because of our over exposure to constant media.” 

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 32
Education: BA in Theatre, emphasis in costume & design, Hope College, MI
Website: https://lamaland.carbonmade.com/

"Terrence the Turtle" by Michael John Braaksma, 5x7in, acrylic on paper, $100 |  BUY NOW

"Terrence the Turtle" by Michael John Braaksma, 5x7in, acrylic on paper, $100 | BUY NOW


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This Feature was written by Eli Keel.
Eli Keel is a Louisville based freelance journalist focused on arts and culture. Nationally he’s written Salon.com, The MarySue.com, Howlround.com, and Pointe Magazine out of New York. Locally he’s written for Louisville Public Radio’s news division, both the radio and the web (wfpl.com), Insiderlouisville.com, LEO Weekly and Leoweekly.com. He’s also contributed to Louisville Magazine, The Voice Tribune, Modern Louisville, Churchill Downs Magazine, arts-louisville.com, and thecoffeecompass.comHe also writes plays.


Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Painting

Vignette: Gibbs Rounsavall


“Color…can transport us through time.” – Gibbs Rounsavall


Gibbs Rounsavall at work in his studio

Gibbs Rounsavall at work in his studio

Science and art may appear to inhabit opposite corners of human experience; but they have much in common. Aside from the dubious distinction of being targets in the current culture wars, each absolutely depend upon acute observation and stringent process. Perhaps nowhere is this synchronicity more apparent than in the study and application of color theory. In the work of Gibbs Rounsavall, the compositions may strike us wholly academic in their construction; a juxtaposition of color rigidly enforced by the strictest geometry, yet there is more than theory at work here.

“I compare my studio practice to that of a scientific exploration embracing the thrill of discovery.” Explains Rounsavall. “The focus of my study has primarily been on relationships between shape and color. Color has such strong associative powers that it can transport us through time eliciting memories while simultaneously suspending the perception of reality.” 

"Transitions #5" by Gibbs Rounsavall,   27.25 x 34.75 in  , enamel on paper (framed), $1150 |  BUY NOW

"Transitions #5" by Gibbs Rounsavall, 27.25 x 34.75 in, enamel on paper (framed), $1150 | BUY NOW

The artist uses one-shot sign paint to create the exacting geometric images, which, although reminiscent of computer-generated graphics, are painted entirely hand. The blend of symmetrical precision and the inherent imperfection of the artist’s hand is the key to their appeal – the reason we as viewers cannot turn away. The discipline and craft are compelling, but Rounsavall puts into the service of a simple ideal.

“Most importantly, I want my work to provide a positive experience for my audience and a sense of beauty that can enrich their lives by raising an awareness and appreciation for the present moment.”

"Transitions #4" by Gibbs Rounsavall,   27.25 x 34.75 in, enamel on paper (framed), $1150 |  BUY NOW

"Transitions #4" by Gibbs Rounsavall, 27.25 x 34.75 in, enamel on paper (framed), $1150 | BUY NOW

In 2015 Rounsavall completed the Sunshine and Shadow mural in Louisville’s Shelby Park.

Rounsavall has three drawings on exhibit at Scout on Market in Louisville, and was accepted into the 12th Annual Mazin Art Exhibit at the Jewish Community Center’s Patio Gallery, which runs through January 3, 2017.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: BFA, Washington University in St. Louis, Concentration: MAT, University of Louisville, Concentration: Art Education
Website: http://www.gibbsrounsavall.com

"Transitions #6" by Gibbs Rounsavall,   17 x 21 in  , enamel on paper (framed), $450   |  BUY NOW

"Transitions #6" by Gibbs Rounsavall, 17 x 21 in, enamel on paper (framed), $450 | BUY NOW

"Transitions #3" by Gibbs Rounsavall,   27.25 x 34.75 in, enamel on paper (framed), $1150 |  BUY NOW

"Transitions #3" by Gibbs Rounsavall, 27.25 x 34.75 in, enamel on paper (framed), $1150 | BUY NOW

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

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Digital, Illustration

Q&A: Illustrator Scott Soeder

Photograph of artist Scott Soeder at work.

Photograph of artist Scott Soeder at work.


"Art means me. It is my personal visual language for communicating my ideas and getting lost in my thoughts." — Scott Soeder


Various vehicle illustrations by Scott Soeder.

Scott Soeder is an award-winning professional illustrator and designer specializing in illustrations for children's books, magazines, apps and games. Select clients include Highlights for Children, Timehop, Lightchange Studios, Reelio Inc, 311, Lake Street Dive, Sharks 4 Kids and more. A graduate of the University of Louisville, he is based in based in Louisville, KY.

When did you first think you would be an artist?

I can’t say there was any defining moment. I have been drawing as long as I can remember, as if I’m simply naturally attracted to do so. Maybe we all are and for whatever reason some of us move away from it. I played football on a team when I was a kid, but by the time I got to high school I had very little interest in playing. Maybe art is like that for others. Also I was a scrawny kid, even in high school, and I knew I would end up a small pile of broken bones had I attempted to play.  I was very fortunate to have parents who kept me stocked in art supplies and who encouraged me. I absolutely adored looking at and reading “Peanuts” in the newspaper and watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. Animation and comics were my experience with art. When I was around 7 or 8 or some age expressed in a single digit, my grandfather made me an easel. I would sit for hours drawing at that easel. I remember feeling like a real artist working at that easel. At an early age I was equipped with art supplies, had a paying customer and friends referred to me as a “good drawer” So artist was added to my list of “what I want to be when I grow up” directly under Astronaut and Spiderman. 

Is all your work for clients?

Being a full-time artist means that a big chunk of what I create is for clients. However, I do spend time working on pieces for fun, to experiment, or for personal projects. I have been working on illustrating a series of vehicles from pop culture titled Pop Wheels for fun and to give my self a challenge. I have done about 16 and have a long list of others I’d like to do. Also, I work on writing and illustrating my own stories for children’s picture books.

What frightens you the most?

That’s a great question and probably depends on the moment I’m asked. An overarching, big-picture-thought that comes to mind is - being forgotten. That my little blip of time on the planet being Scott Soeder was wasted and that I didn’t use everything I’d been given to the fullest. I want to be able to leave something behind that my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could say: “my dad did that”. Besides my children themselves of course, they are my best creations. But in terms of art, Charles Schulz lives in Charlie Brown and will continue to for generations, possibly inspiring other kids to pick up a pencil and draw. That’s an amazing accomplishment.

What is your favorite music to listen to when making art?

Something upbeat and rocking. The list of specific artists would be long! I love music and enjoy listening to it while working. I’d say most of the time it would be music from 311 or pop metal bands from the 80s. 

What are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading Chuck Jones’ autobiography, “Chuck Amuck”. I love looking at his drawings in the book and it is really funny. I would have loved to meet him. I bet he was hilarious. 

What advice would you give a young artist just out of college?

Learn about business and develop your business acumen. Educate yourself on all the opportunities available for artists. Put in the work. 

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

I feel like every moment is one of transition. It is persistent evolution. Always striving to express the emotion or develop the image I see in my head. There are moments or milestone pieces if you will. The ones where something clicked or a visual problem was solved or it made someone laugh, etc. Some of my favorite moments are getting an email or message from someone who really enjoyed a piece and took the time to say so. 

What does art mean to you?

Art feels like a part of me. It has been tied up in my identity for as long as I remember. Art has been the means of showing others ideas in my mind, of depicting humor and simply passing time. When I was a kid my sister had dance lessons and I would bring a sketchbook and art supplies with me to stay occupied. I don’t know what I would have done without it. A great benefit of art is that I am never bored! Art means me. It is my personal visual language for communicating my ideas and getting lost in my thoughts. 

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If you could have a talent that you currently don't already have what would it be and why?

I would like to be able to sing. Being able to sing like Steve Perry from Journey would be nice. I play drums and can hold my own on a few other instruments like guitar and bass, but I lack a singing voice. A rusty muffler being drug down a gravel road would sound more pleasant. I have a personal project where I am playing and recording all the instruments myself and having a decent singing voice would be advantageous. 

If you could meet any celebrity who would it be and what would you ask them?

If it could be anyone even if they were deceased it would be Charles Schulz. If it were a contemporary it would be John Lasseter. I would ask Charles Schulz about his work ethic and productivity tips. He drew every single Peanuts strip himself for 50 years. He’d have to have some awesome tips! I would ask John Lasseter about storytelling and creating great characters. Pixar has had an amazing track record of doing both. 

Name: Scott Soeder
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 43
Education: BFA in Communication Art & Design, Magna Cum Laude, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
Website: http://www.scottsoeder.com

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

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