new york city


Vignette: Sabra Crockett

“There seems to be a vacuous spiritual sense in our society.” — Sabra Crockett

Artist, Sabra Crockett

Artist, Sabra Crockett

Artists have painted nature and animals since the cave paintings at Lascaux, France. Those early renderings are documents of time: season by season, lifetime by lifetime, they are the first recorded history; but over the ages of time artists moved away from sociology and began capturing the complex beauty of other species as a means of expressing a reverence for nature. Art was also used to recognize the divine, and the natural world was often where they found it.

These paintings by Sabra Crockett are well-observed studies of specific birds, but they are placed in specific, idiosyncratic visual context for the purpose of conjuring a spiritual connection. The artist explains:

"Deception" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and metal leaf on canvas (2017)

"Deception" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and metal leaf on canvas (2017)

“My goal is to be a mechanism for shifting people's awareness towards nature. I believe that we have become disassociated with nature, therefore becoming disassociated with ourselves. There seems to be a vacuous spiritual sense in our society. Religion has become a sense of identity, rather than a transcendent self-discovery, and tuning into the higher self. Personally, connecting with nature has always been my way of connecting to the divine. Now I feel that our beautiful parks, wildlife, and habitats are being threatened even more. It feels like an assault these days. So I focus on imagery for people to create a connection with our natural world in hopes there will be a connection within themselves.”

"Exaltation" by Sabra Crockett, 12x12in, acrylic metal leaf venetian plaster on board (2017)

"Exaltation" by Sabra Crockett, 12x12in, acrylic metal leaf venetian plaster on board (2017)

In January 2017, Crockett was a recipient of a Great Meadows Foundation Professional Development Grant, and currently is a participant in Gridworks Revisited, Lexington, KY. She will open a solo show on March 31 at Downtown Pilates, Louisville, KY, and will be included in SALON International, in New York City April 12 -16. Summer will bring exhibits at Dragon King's Daughter in May, and at Evolving Gallery in June, both in Louisville.

Hometown: Rochester, New York
Age: 43
Education: BFA, Rochester Institute of Technology

"Judgement" by Sabra Crockett, 10x8in, acrylic and copper leaf on canvas (2016)

"Judgement" by Sabra Crockett, 10x8in, acrylic and copper leaf on canvas (2016)

"Pride" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and plaster on canvas (2016)

"Pride" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and plaster on canvas (2016)

"Balance" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and metal leaf on canvas (2017)

"Balance" by Sabra Crockett, 8x10in, acrylic and metal leaf on canvas (2017)

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

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

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

Public Art, Conceptual

Q&A: Todd Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 35
Education: MFA, Emerging Practices, University at Buffalo, NY, 2016; BA, Studio Fine Art, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, 2003

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

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

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

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

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


Vignette: Shawn Marshall

Artist Shawn Marshall

Artist Shawn Marshall

It may too often be seen as a Pop Culture cliché of Modern Art, but there is genuine reality to the idea of art as a direct, frequently cathartic expression of raw emotion; perhaps a means of exorcising negative and even destructive feelings. When looking at the work of Shawn Marshall, it is easy to believe that the rich plasticity of her medium is affording her exactly this opportunity; the layered build up of paint resulting in a heavy impasto that begs to be touched, so seductive is the textured surface.

“My painting is a meditative practice,” states Marshall, “an outlet to release intuitive energy and let go of preconceived notions and self-imposed rules or judgments of how I and my work interpret and portray the world. My ‘practice’ and expression are restorative for me, and often for others, as I create what I refer to as ‘Inward Landscapes.’”

"East Side" by Shawn Marshall, 48x24x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"East Side" by Shawn Marshall, 48x24x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

Yet for all the rough quality, there is great subtlety in the placement of mark and color. The catharsis occurs within an artistic process of discipline developed from years of experience, and an unexpectedly schematic underlying visual structure that may point to Marshall’s training as an architect, in which she holds advanced degrees.  

Marshall is the Visual Arts Teacher at North Oldham High School, Goshen, KY. In 2016 she was chosen for the 27th Annual International Juried Show, Viridian Artists Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Tumelo Mosaka, Independent Curator, former Curator at Krannert Art Museum and the Brooklyn Museum.

The next opportunity to see Marshall’s work is Inward Landscapes - a Solo Painting Exhibit by Shawn Marshall with guest sculptor Jeanne Dueber at PYRO Gallery from February 23 through April 8, 2017. There will be an Opening Reception Friday, February 24 from 6-9pm.

In March 2017 she will also be participating in Gridworks Revisited at the New Editions Gallery, Lexington, KY, and in the fall she will have work in the Contemporary Invitational Landscape Exhibit, McGrath Gallery, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 48
Education: 1992, Bachelor of Architecture, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; 1996, Master of Architecture, Minor Fine Arts, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; 2009, Master of Art in Teaching, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY

"Excavating the Surface" by Shawn Marshall, 12x12x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"Excavating the Surface" by Shawn Marshall, 12x12x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"Storms Pass" by Shawn Marshall, 12x12x1.5in, oil on canvas (2017)

"Storms Pass" by Shawn Marshall, 12x12x1.5in, oil on canvas (2017)

"Halfway There" by Shawn Marshall, 48x30x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"Halfway There" by Shawn Marshall, 48x30x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"More Than a Climb" by Shawn Marshall, 24x24x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"More Than a Climb" by Shawn Marshall, 24x24x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"The Roots Run Deep" by Shawn Marshall, 12x12x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

"The Roots Run Deep" by Shawn Marshall, 12x12x1.5in, oil on canvas (2016)

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

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

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


Vignette: Jill Baker

"Grand Canal" by Jill Baker, 30x12in, oil, $2000 |  BUY NOW

"Grand Canal" by Jill Baker, 30x12in, oil, $2000 | BUY NOW

Jill Baker working on her painting "Lady In Waiting" (2016)

Jill Baker working on her painting "Lady In Waiting" (2016)

When one tries to imagine the ideal life of an artist, you might do worse than use Jill Baker’s experience as an example. Encouraged at the earliest age to make art, most notably by her artist grandmother, she majored in Fine Art in undergraduate studies at Baylor University. She traveled extensively and lived in Spain, Italy and South Korea. “In Spain I studied the masterpieces at the Prado. In Florence, Italy I painted under the masters at the Academia di Belle Arti. My work was in a major U.S. Exhibition in Paris and in Italy I was chosen for a one-person show at the prestigious Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. In Seoul, South Korea, I became an Artist In Resident and took advantage of the opportunity to create a major exhibition for the U.S. Information Services, exhibiting in the old American Embassy. I also was taken by the USIS to tour South Korean artists and universities, to lecture and lead workshops.”

For many people, that might have been enough, but Baker moved to New York City, where she exhibited, including two solos shows, before earning her MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute in NYC in 1981. Since then she has exhibited at galleries in major cities and galleries of the states of New York, California, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Evansville, Purdue University, and other institutions.

"Arizona" by Jill Baker, 60x43in, oil, collage, $5000 |  BUY NOW

"Arizona" by Jill Baker, 60x43in, oil, collage, $5000 | BUY NOW

"Gondolas in the Snow" by Jill Baker, 16x30in, oil, $5000 |  BUY NOW

"Gondolas in the Snow" by Jill Baker, 16x30in, oil, $5000 | BUY NOW

As is common with many full-time artists, Baker works on several pieces simultaneously, expressing herself in different styles. She describes her surreal collages, such as “Arizona,” as her most popular work. The upending of recognizable physical reality accomplished through the impossible juxtaposition of conflicting landscapes is compelling; a seamless merging that illustrates Baker’s great facility with medium. 

“I have sought to be true to my strengths and have resisted other occupations and callings to become and remain a visual artist. I know it is a gift I have been given and in developing it, have tried to bring new and innovative visions to it.”

In 2011-12, Baker was a Visiting Professor of Art History at the University of Evansville, Evansville, IN, and since 2009 she has been Adjunct Professor, University of Southern Indiana, Department of Art, also in Evansville. In November 2016 she exhibited at Cook Studio and Gallery with Andy Cook and Debbie Welsh.

Baker is currently listed in Who's Who in the East, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Society, Who's Who in American Art, American Art Directory and Marquis Who's Who of American Women, in Community Leaders of America, Female Artists in the United States: a Research and Resource Guide, Fantastic Art and Artists Directory and the yearly listing in ArtNews.

"Madonna" by Jill Baker, 3x5in, blockprint, $200 |  BUY NOW

"Madonna" by Jill Baker, 3x5in, blockprint, $200 | BUY NOW

Public Collections
Evansville Museum of Arts and Sciences, Evansville, IN
Goethe House, German Cultural Institute, New York, NY
Krannert Art Series, Purdue University, W.Lafayette IN
Bellarmine College, Merton Collection, Louisville, KY
St. Marks Priory, Fine Arts Collection, South Union, KY.
Alexander & Alexander, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska
Church of St. Thomas Aquinas, Bowling Green, KY
College of Education, Western Kentucky U., Bowling Green, KY

Selected Private Collections
Herman Rath Collection, Houston, Texas
Barton Simons Collection, Los Angeles, California
L. H. Dishman Collection, Washington, DC
Norman Wexler Collection, New York, New York
Dr. Lawrence Balter Collection, New York, New York
Wayne Kline Collection, Studio City, CA
Paul Nonte Collection, Jasper, IN

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 74
Education: BA in Fine Arts, Baylor University (Waco, Texas); studied at the Academia di Belle Arti (Florence, Italy); MFA in Painting, Pratt Institute (New York City)
Gallery Representative: Manhattan Arts (New York City); Contemporary Arts Gallery (New Harmony, Indiana)

"Sotto Porto" by Jill Baker, 24x36in, oil, NFS

"Sotto Porto" by Jill Baker, 24x36in, oil, NFS

"Goddess" by Jill Baker, 18x10in, monotype collage, $500 |  BUY NOW

"Goddess" by Jill Baker, 18x10in, monotype collage, $500 | BUY NOW

"Seated on Rug" by Jill Baker, 36x48in, oil, $5000 |  BUY NOW

"Seated on Rug" by Jill Baker, 36x48in, oil, $5000 | BUY NOW

Jill Baker working on her painting "Summer Sidewalk In Paris"

Jill Baker working on her painting "Summer Sidewalk In Paris"

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.

For information on how you can advertise through Artebella    click here   .

For information on how you can advertise through Artebella click here.


Curatorial Spotlight: culturALLandscape

 "Art is part and parcel of a cumulative and collective enterprise, viewed as seen fit by the prevailing culture.  It isn’t just the result of an unencumbered creative act. Everything that is seen and understood is part of a work and art is always a collaboration with all that came before you, that co-exists with you, and that comes after you." — Louise Lawler

Sarah Lyon,   Steven Irwin  , 2006,  Archival Pigment Print,  40x40in

Sarah Lyon, Steven Irwin, 2006, Archival Pigment Print, 40x40in

Tom LeGoff,   Matt  ,  2013, Inkjet Print

Tom LeGoff, Matt2013, Inkjet Print

The intersection of a geographic location and the culture it sustains is marked by how a physical place both supports and is reciprocally shaped by human involvement. Cultural landscape refers to the coalescence of a place with the people who inhabit it and encompasses works of art, narratives of culture, and expressions of regional identity tied to that specific place. Surveying the social and artistic topography of a place reveals aspects of its origins and development, as well as the interconnectivity of the relationships between the physical location, society and its structures.

The provenance of Louisville’s current cultural landscape can be accessed through the juxtaposition and alignment of the work of two photographers living and working in the city– one native and the other a recent transplant. The accompanying artworks unearth narratives about the area’s human geography- how a place and the people that produce creative output in that place serve as the bedrock of its vernacular landscape. The portraits shown here depict individuals who contribute to and enrich the area’s cultural terroir- affirming that the creative outpouring that takes place here is unique and incapable of being reproduced elsewhere. The individuals represented here may be preceded by their reputation. They may perhaps be more easily identifiable by the fruits of their creative labor - the artwork they create, music they produce, or performances they direct- than by their names or faces alone. But portrayed in and through their most valued environments, the resulting images reveal the virtues of the person depicted in equal measure with the backdrop against which they are situated.

Sarah Lyon,   Natalie Sud ,  2008,  Archival Pigment Print,  40x40in

Sarah Lyon, Natalie Sud, 2008, Archival Pigment Print, 40x40in

Sarah Lyon originally viewed her photographic practice as a means through which she could experience her native city, as though she were an outsider exploring it for the first time. She began translating her personal relationships and experiences into an alternative way of mapping the city and its human and geographic landmarks. Out of this practice grew a portrait series that allows Lyon to become better acquainted with those who accompany her on these explorations, synthesizing them with their own personal environments.

The people with whom Lyon re-discovers her city are the figures who appear in her photographs. Consistently situated within a wide visual plane, the space and distance afforded to the figures facilitates an unimposing co- existence between the subject and the viewer. Allowing the viewer to soak in the totality of situational factors that shape the subject’s identity. Lyon’s photographs convey a sense of rootedness, giving prevalence to place and obscuring the distinction between whether the subject’s identity is informed by the impact they have on their locale, or the impact their locale has on them.

Tom LeGoff,   Chris  , 2015, Inkjet Print

Tom LeGoff, Chris, 2015, Inkjet Print

Tom LeGoff approaches his subjects as a self-proclaimed outsider, his portraits less burdened with history and interpretation. After re-locating to the area four years ago, he familiarized himself with the city by considering those who prominently occupy the landscape. LeGoff’s work magnifies the inherently ‘other’ quality that inevitably accompanies notoriety, imbuing his photographs with an elevated sense of intrigue as he casts his subjects in various roles, as though they were characters in a film noir. Yet, these oft-solicited and dramatized relationships still subtly convey reality. LeGoff intently concerns himself with the parts his subjects play in the locale he shares with them. Without pretense of familiarity, he offers viewers delicate contextual clues from which to deduce their identity, as illustrated in is his photograph, Chris (2015).

This image shows the portrait of an artist who uses the scale of her own body as the guiding principle in the production of her artwork. Using materials such as shards of glass and airy mesh boxes as representations of her own weight and volume, she examines how those constructed representations relate to and react with the environment around them. Photographed near her studio in the Portland neighborhood, LeGoff poses Chris standing at centurion attention. LeGoff references Chris’ own artistic study, arranging the composition so that her figure occupies the same amount of visual space in the composition as the first column in the row of interstate pylons receding into the horizon, reinforcing the relationship between her form and the environment in which her form exists.

Sarah Lyon,   Jason Willar  , 2005,   Archival Pigment Print,  40x40in

Sarah Lyon, Jason Willar, 2005,  Archival Pigment Print, 40x40in

Though examined from different vantage points, Lyon and LeGoff both identify the terroir that characterizes the unique cultural landscape within which they have personally and professionally entrenched themselves. By documenting their creative counterparts, not merely as an act of preservation, but as a means of acknowledging and propagating the artistic talent with which they co-exist, both Lyon and LeGoff participate in a camaraderie that nurtures a thriving creative ecology that is cross- pollinated by both ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’.

 Tom LeGoff,   Dean  , 2013,   Inkjet Print

 Tom LeGoff, Dean, 2013,  Inkjet Print

Sarah Lyon,    Kirby Coleman  , 2005,  Archival Pigment Print,  40x40in

Sarah Lyon, Kirby Coleman, 2005, Archival Pigment Print, 40x40in

 Tom LeGoff,   Mo  , 2014,  Inkjet Print

 Tom LeGoff, Mo, 2014, Inkjet Print

Sarah Lyon,   Mitchell and Matthew Barney  , 2004, Archival Pigment Print, 40x40in

Sarah Lyon, Mitchell and Matthew Barney, 2004, Archival Pigment Print, 40x40in

Tom LeGoff,   Dario  , 2015, Inkjet Print

Tom LeGoff, Dario, 2015, Inkjet Print

To contact these artists or to see more of their work, please visit or

This Curatorial Spotlight was written by Jessica Bennett Kincaid.
Jessica Bennett Kincaid is currently the Exhibitions Assistant at the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute. Her curated exhibitions include “Hugh Haynie: The Art of Opinion” at the Frazier History Museum, "All of Bob Lockhart" at Louisville Visual Art’s Public Gallery, and most recently, “Joshua Watts- Resonant Disclosures at the Cressman Center for Visual Arts. She studied at the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute, University of Kentucky, Institut Catholique de Paris, and Santa Reparata International School of Art.

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

Written by Jessica Bennett Kincaid. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Please contact    for further information on advertising through Artebella.

Please contact for further information on advertising through Artebella.