muralist

Special, Mural, Painting, Photography

Feature: 1619 Flux

1619 FLUX is re-opening for our One-Year Anniversary on April 15th, 2017 with a new Exhibition about Revitalization in West Louisville, and other surrounding neighborhoods.


“1619 Flux is NOT an art gallery.” — Kara Nichols


Neighborhood Revitalization & The Creative Flow Exhibition  Co-Curators:  Jesse Levesque, Kara Nichols, and Gwendolyn Kelly

Neighborhood Revitalization & The Creative Flow Exhibition
Co-Curators:  Jesse Levesque, Kara Nichols, and Gwendolyn Kelly

Kara Nichols and Jessie Levesque did not want to open an art gallery on West Main Street. Not that there’s anything wrong with that notion, it’s just that the pair had something else in mind. The full name they gave their venture, 1619 Flux Art + Activism is actually fairly direct in announcing the mission, but once you put art on the walls with a price tag, “gallery” is the easy assumption. People get it – they know what that is and they can feel good about it. But the real mission – the second part of that name – is an idea that still struggles to gain currency in the mainstream. What exactly does it mean to use art to effect social change?

Part of the problem is that it can mean so many things. “We want to engage artists who are solving problems creatively,” explains Levesque, “and, of course, part of that engagement will include exhibiting art, but there’s more to it.”

Nichols, who holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Louisville, never saw herself in the role of “curator”, but she and Levesque are inventing a new role for themselves, step-by-step.  The first step was to make a home. The building is a humble, low-slung bungalow-like edifice that sits back off of Main Street between 16th and 17th Streets. It seems utilitarian on the outside, and the interior is open and efficient; a good space for a reception. When 1619 opened its doors one year ago, there was a party attended by a host of Louisville VIP’s: Mayor Greg Fisher, Ghislain D’ Humeires, Teddy Abrams, and many others. The high profile event drew a large crowd and the owners engaged a valet parking company to handle the traffic. That doesn’t seem unreasonable for such a glittering night, but later they heard negative comments from the neighbors. “They said to us, ‘seeing valet parking told us we weren’t welcome,’” says Nichols. “Which is exactly the opposite of what we intended.”

"Portland Car Show" by Adam Horton, 8x11in, photograph

"Portland Car Show" by Adam Horton, 8x11in, photograph

Which just underscores the challenge of trying to focus creative social activism through a physical location designed to pull people across the mythical 9th Street divide.

"Consume" by Bryan K. Holden, 48x72x9in, Plastic Liquor Bottles, Cardboard Homeless Signs, Wood, Resin, Ink, Paint, Liquor, Cigarette Butts, Pills, Syringes, Keys and Wedding Ring

"Consume" by Bryan K. Holden, 48x72x9in, Plastic Liquor Bottles, Cardboard Homeless Signs, Wood, Resin, Ink, Paint, Liquor, Cigarette Butts, Pills, Syringes, Keys and Wedding Ring

Hoping to clarify their intentions, Nichols and Levesque invited artist and West End resident Gwendolyn Kelly to co-curate a new exhibit that opens April 15, Neighborhood Revitalization & The Creative Flow. Although it does feature artists: Adam Horton, Randall Webber, Anne Huntington, Gwendolyn Kelly, Bryan K. Holden, Scott Vinson, D.R. Stewart, REMI, Kacy Jackson, Dwayne Whidby, Josh Ison, Shaun Sargent, Andrew Cozzens, and Erik Nohalty will all have work in the show, it will also highlight people and businesses that are making a creative difference in neighborhoods in transition: Algonquin, Butchertown, California, Chickasaw, Germantown, NuLu, Parkland, Park DuValle, Park Hill, Phoenix Hill, Portland, Russell, Shawnee, Smoketown, and SoBro/SoFo, among others.

One of the ways they accomplish this is by devising categories for people who affect change through creative action. In the statement for the exhibit, the curators state: “Creative people help to revitalize neighborhoods as architects, artists, connectors, employers, muralists, navigators, and witnesses. Art and activism emerges when creative people invest their time, money, and energy in neighborhoods in flux.”

"Pharoah Sanders" by Kacy Jackson, 48x24in, acrylic and spray paint on board

"Pharoah Sanders" by Kacy Jackson, 48x24in, acrylic and spray paint on board

Nichols, Levesque and Kelly came up with a series of identities:

Navigator
Architects
Witnesses
Connectors
Muralists
Employers
Artists
Evolvers

They see these terms as establishing entry points for individual to become a part of the discussion. “There is so much going on,” says Kelly, “but if people can identify with one of these roles, then they are involved.” The roles encompass people, businesses, social agencies, and art non-profits. “Connectors are churches, school, organizations like Louisville Visual Art,” explains Levesque, “Employers are obvious, but some of the other categories are more subtle in their definition, and, of course, we are all witnesses.”

It may seem surprising that Nichols and Levesque opened their space while still trying to figure things out, but their lack of arrogance and willingness to learn and grow provides an important example for people of means who want to make a difference in the community. It’s too easy to talk yourself out of taking such a risk, and nobody wants to look foolish, but perhaps in the territory where angels fear to tread is exactly where we might find the greatest opportunity for change.

Grand Re-Opening and One-Year Anniversary!
1619 FLUX: Art + Activism’s
Neighborhood Revitalization & The Creative Flow Exhibition

Saturday, April 15th, 2017
5:00pm - 10:00pm

Meat from Superior Meats, BBQ by Boss Hog, wine & beer, sides and desserts from The Table, Farm To Fork, and Sweet Peaches

Live music with WoWuWoo & Krew from 8:00pm to 10:00pm

"Phoenix Hill" by Adam Horton, 8x11in, photograph

"Phoenix Hill" by Adam Horton, 8x11in, photograph

"Sweet Peaches Restaurant Mural" by Resko, Photo by Randall Webber. 8x11in

"Sweet Peaches Restaurant Mural" by Resko, Photo by Randall Webber. 8x11in

"Smoketown Teardown" by Adam Horton, 36x36in, photograph

"Smoketown Teardown" by Adam Horton, 36x36in, photograph

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

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Painting, Public Art

Vignette: Sabra Crockett

"Mural at Le Moo" by  Sabra Crockett , 14x12ft, acrylic on brick, NFS

"Mural at Le Moo" by Sabra Crockett, 14x12ft, acrylic on brick, NFS

Sabra Crockett has worked extensively on public art of one kind or another: as a scenic artist, a muralist, sign design, and in her more personal art she turns to the natural world, motivated by memory and childhood nostalgia: “My focus in my art is to bring the viewer a heightened awareness and connection to nature, because I believe it is disappearing. Since I was a little girl, I have always found refuge being outside with the birds and trees. Growing up was really tough. Family life was tumultuous, and I had no true friends. I would spend hours in my back yard, or exploring the then empty lots of undeveloped fields surrounding my suburban neighborhood - observing the birds, trees, insects, and amphibians. It all fascinates me. I learn life lessons by observing the plants and animals.”

There is a discovery of recurring pattern that has perhaps informed Crockett’s work, whatever the field. She has developed her technique for decorative painting from this observation, bringing a feeling for organic rhythms of our environment into interior spaces. 

"I Stand Alone" by Sabra Crockett, 18x24in, acrylic on canvas, $490  |  BUY NOW

"I Stand Alone" by Sabra Crockett, 18x24in, acrylic on canvas, $490 | BUY NOW

Not surprisingly, we also find an undercurrent of sensitivity to the threat to that natural world that has preoccupied us for the last few generations: “I find it all beautiful, even when it is cruel and terrible. However, there is a definite threat to the magic and lessons nature provides. I am aware of the over development of the land, the oil spills, the pesticides, the bee and bird populations plummeting. It terrifies me. For now, I have a desire to capture the essence of how I view nature through my paintings, and hope it inspires the viewer to remember the intrinsic value nature provides us all.”   

Hometown: Rochester, New York
Age: 42
Education: BFA, Rochester Institute of Technology
Website: http://www.sabralynne.com

"Raven on Gold" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, $460 |  BUY NOW

"Raven on Gold" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, $460 | BUY NOW

"Arms Wide Open" by Sabra Crockett, 43.5x73in, acrylic and gold lead on wood, $1650 |  BUY NOW


"Arms Wide Open" by Sabra Crockett, 43.5x73in, acrylic and gold lead on wood, $1650 | BUY NOW

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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, Installation, Public Art, Ceramics

Feature: LVA Studios


“It's an exciting time for Portland! It is where the artists are now.” – Lynn Dunbar


Casey McKinney at work on his mural.

Casey McKinney at work on his mural.

Artists place a high value on space, particularly the space in which they work. It can define them and their work more than even they themselves sometimes realize. When Louisville Visual Art (LVA) moved into its new home in the Portland neighborhood, the 32,000 square foot warehouse was a raw shell except for a cozy 1000 sq. ft. office space. That office remains the only part of the building with heat and air conditioning, and the seasonal extremes in temperature make occupying the vast open space a challenge. A complete renovation of the building that will include studio space for artists is being planned, but for now, LVA staff didn’t anticipate very much use of the facility when they moved in at the beginning of September 2015.

But a tour of the building for a small group of local artists a month later demonstrated that some artists were ready to move in immediately, with or without amenities. The “rawer” the better seemed to be the attitude, “It doesn’t intrude,“ explains sculptor, curator, and LVA board member Andrew Cozzens, “and it provides the space needed to build and experiment without limitations.” With elbowroom to spare, the first three tenants, painters Joshua Jenkins and Clare Hirn, and ceramicist Amy Chase, moved in before the end of 2015.

An installation by Andrew Cozzens (2016)

An installation by Andrew Cozzens (2016)

This hardy trio worked through the cold winter months with space heaters. For Jenkins, who has previously worked in smaller spaces that offered isolation, the difference has impacted the work itself. “Raw space to me is like a blank canvas,” he says. “It has unlimited possibilities and room to breath. I have found that just from painting in a raw/large space such as LVA’s, that my work has naturally evolved and that my compositions have grown to have more white space in them.” Since the first humid, dog days of summer the number of tenants has more than doubled, with seven others moving into the 2nd floor space: besides Cozzens, they are painter Ashley Brossart, installation artist Vinhay Keo, muralist Alyx Mclain, painter Casey McKinney, sculptor and installation artist Kyle Sherrard, and painter Lynn Dunbar. Other artists that have used the building on a temporary basis for murals and other projects on a scale that their normal workspace could not contain have included Shohei Katayama, Carrie Neumayer, Annette Cable, Noah Church, McKenna Graham, Ewa Perz, and Mary Dennis Kannepell.

The increased number of working artists is welcomed by Clare Hirn, who was the first to move in: “After working in a fairly isolated situation this is a nice change to be in a space with other artists.  There are challenges of giving up the complete privacy of one's own space, but the potential for collaboration in spirit, if not in actual work, is a huge payoff. It is inspiring to be around other artists of such variety and as a slightly older artist (at 52!) it is a bonus to be around younger people as well.”

"Share the Summer" (Painted at the  at the Botanica Paint Out)  by Clare Hirn, mixed media, $350 |  BUY NOW

"Share the Summer" (Painted at the at the Botanica Paint Out) by Clare Hirn, mixed media, $350 | BUY NOW

Not surprisingly, some of the occupants have taken a hand in improving the space themselves, with Cozzens and Sherrard building and installing temporary partitions, and Dunbar replacing broken glass panes, building a shared space that is still open and accessible. Cozzens admits, “I always prefer to work communally- it brings good energy.”

Artist Joshua Jenkins working in studio. Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

Artist Joshua Jenkins working in studio. Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

That the building is located in the Portland neighborhood also seems to hold an appeal, as Jenkins explains: “I have always been attracted to urban environments and inner cities. There's just inspiration to me in every direction that I look, along with the ghost of so much history. When I first heard of artists moving into the Portland area for studio spaces I was extremely excited and jumped on board as soon as I could.” The history of the area, which was once one of the most important freight stops on the Ohio River and the economic center of Louisville until the early 1800’s, is rich but largely ignored or taken for granted by the city as a whole, if not necessarily by the artists who are working there. “There is a fresh vibe in Portland,” observes Cozzens“…a lot of stored energy.”

Indeed, with a warren of more developed studio spaces in the connected building, Tim Faulkner Gallery across the street, and the forthcoming Hite Art Institute’s MFA studios scheduled to open 2 blocks away, things seem to be happening – positive and creative things that feed into the larger Portland revitalization plan spearheaded by Gill Holland. Part of the realization of such plans is certainly deep-pocket investors, but equally important are the series of choices made by individuals to live and work in such neighborhoods. These artists have made that choice.

"Untitled" by Ashley Brossart, 5x5ft, aerosal, acrylic, ink, paper photo (2016), NFS (commissioned)

"Untitled" by Ashley Brossart, 5x5ft, aerosal, acrylic, ink, paper photo (2016), NFS (commissioned)

"Withstanding Fiction" by Amy Chase, 5x9x5in, ceramic, flocking (2016), $410 |  BUY NOW

"Withstanding Fiction" by Amy Chase, 5x9x5in, ceramic, flocking (2016), $410 | BUY NOW

"Boy Blue" by Joshua Jenkins, 40x30x1in, acrylic and mixed media on canvas (2016)

"Boy Blue" by Joshua Jenkins, 40x30x1in, acrylic and mixed media on canvas (2016)

"Belle in the Lead" by Lynn Dunbar,  24x36in,  oil on canvas

"Belle in the Lead" by Lynn Dunbar, 24x36in, oil on canvas

"Watchful Eye" by Casey McKinney, 45x56in, acrylic and mixed media (2016), $900 |    BUY NOW

"Watchful Eye" by Casey McKinney, 45x56in, acrylic and mixed media (2016), $900 | 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.