person

Painting

Q&A: Quappi Projects


“We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts.“ – John Brooks


Artist, John Brooks

Artist, John Brooks

Q&A with John Brooks about Quappi Projects

‘Quappi’ was the nickname of Mathilde von Kaulbach, who was married to German New Objectivist painter Max Beckmann (1884-1950). It was derived from the similarity of her surname to the German word Kaulquappe, meaning ‘tadpole’.

It is a singular phrase with no other formal meaning, which seems to delight Louisville artist John Brooks, and so he chose it as the moniker of his new exhibition initiative, Quappi Projects. Occupying most of his current studio space at 1520 B Lytle Street in the Portland neighborhood, the mission is to showcase four artists each year from in and outside of Louisville. The inaugural show will be work of Adam Chuck, a Cleveland, Ohio native, now living and making work in Brooklyn, New York.

What motivated you to devote some of your studio space to exhibition space for other artists?

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

Running a gallery is an endeavor I've long been interested in, but it was difficult to imagine a way in which I could maintain a studio practice, run a gallery, and afford to do both. I was between studios in 2015 and spent the summer in Berlin. Part of that time was spent studying under the German artist Norbert Bisky, whose work I've admired for a long time.  We discussed a lot of things, including lamenting the difficulty of finding avenues to show and share work. He advised that I (or anyone!) should just "start my own thing;" so I've had this bee in my bonnet for a couple of years. Since January 2016 I've shared my Lytle Street studio space with another artist, and when he decided to move out I knew that this was my opportunity. The space is perfect - clean, bright, white, and with enough room to allow me to continue my studio practice and to exhibit others' work in a proper way.

As an artist, I know how difficult it can be to find arenas in which to show your work, and I am thrilled by the idea that I can provide that opportunity to other artists. Also, I've been fortunate to live in both London and Chicago, and have traveled the United States and Europe fairly extensively, so I feel like I have a broad range of art-related experiences and knowledge that I can rely on to help inform the direction of the gallery's platform.

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

How did you become aware of Adam Chuck's work?

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

Adam Chuck paints primarily images from social media; fittingly, we "met" quite randomly through Instagram a few years ago. Though we've never yet met in person, we have developed what I consider to be a real friendship, which speaks both to the power and possibilities of social media but also the power and purity of his work. When it became clear that Quappi Projects was really going to happen, I knew I wanted to inaugurate the gallery with a show of Adam's work and happily he said yes. I'm a fan (and a collector) of his work and am so excited to be able to share it with the Louisville art community and the city at large. At first glance, Adam's work might seem to border on the salacious, but I think it creeps up to that line and then walks back. Most of the work is tiny, phone-screen-sized, owing its existence to social media platforms such as Instagram. The work is intimate, sensual and extremely honest. Each work is an exposure, really; it is essentially about reaching out, about the deep desire to connect, and represents an attempt to know and be known. In an age of terror and big fears, Adam's work seems infused with knowledge of those fears, but speaks more to the fundamental needs and basic human fears of need: to be desired, to be loved, to be seen, to be considered.

Tell me about the term "quappi"? I know the Beckman story, but what does it mean to you?

I believe very much in the transformative power of art. I have experienced this enough times in my own life to understand and value its merit, and I firmly believe that the highest function of art is to allow human beings to know ourselves more deeply. My own work has been concerned with the emotional resonance of particular experiences and what Max Beckmann described as "the deepest feeling about the mystery of being." Quappi Projects' goal is to exhibit contemporary art reflecting the zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist is mighty strange. Perhaps all times are strange, but I don't think there's any arguing that we are living in very strange times.

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts. I find that very worrying. I think the experiences of 20th Century German artists like Max Beckmann (and others) are relevant to us today.  Beckmann didn't consider himself a political person, yet his entire life was thrown into upheaval because of politics. He considered political concerns to be secondary to the concerns of the spiritual or metaphysical. Although I am a political person (and have a BA in Political Science) I agree with him and certainly find most explicitly political work too narrowly focused. At the same time, I think the best art reflects the times in which it was created, so it must have some element of the political. Take Velazquez' "Las Meninas," for example - artistically, it is a masterpiece, but it also tells us so much about the Spanish Court and what was going on at the time. I find that balance fascinating, and hopefully we can show work that is interesting in the same way. Even if we fall just a little short of "Las Meninas," we'll be very successful!

I plan to alternate non-Louisville-based and Louisville-based artists have a great series of artists lined up: Baghdad, Iraq-born artist Vian Sora, who now lives and works in Louisville; Louisville native Whit Forrester, who lives in Chicago and just graduated with an MFA from Columbia College; wood artisan Michael James Moran, a central Kentucky native who now lives and works in the Hudson Valley; and photographer Ryan Tassi.

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

Beckmann credited Quappi with keeping him going, keeping him on task and inspired. I think we're living in times when we must keep going, be on task, and be inspired. It's very easy to want to give into the notion of being quiet and comfortable, but I think we must resist that. We must be open, communicate, and connect. I'm hoping the spirit of Quappi can help me do that.

Adam Chuck / Instant Gratification

August 18 – September 29
Opening: Friday, August 18 / 5:00-9:00pm

Quappi Projects
1520 B Lytle Street
Gallery open by appointment only
www.quappiprojects.com

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

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

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Photography

Vignette: Mitch Eckert


Art ,“born out of frustration,” — Mitch Eckert


Like many artists, Mitch Eckert works in several different veins. Here we examine some examples from his Translations series. Eckert explains that he has been exploring the genre of still life for 25 years, and in these images we see him emulating the lighting in Flemish paintings. At one point Eckert had sought to discard the project and placed the work prints in a recycle bin – a purging action more common than the lay person might assume, but familiar enough to working artists. Eckert explains the process in his own words:

“Still Life with Cherries and Blue Bowl” by Mitch Eckert, 30x49in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $1200 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Cherries and Blue Bowl” by Mitch Eckert, 30x49in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $1200 | BUY NOW

“Still Life with Two Nectarines” by Mitch Eckert, 38x26in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $850 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Two Nectarines” by Mitch Eckert, 38x26in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $850 | BUY NOW

“The Translations series was born out of frustration. I wanted to participate in a dialogue with the rich tradition of the Dutch masters of still life painting so I set out to learn compositional strategies of creating still lifes in that manner. I set up the floral arrangements (my wife made the bouquets from our garden flowers) and using natural light made probably 300 photographs of different still life. After printing them all on an inexpensive inkjet printer to pin them on my wall and contemplate, I came to the realization that perhaps they were too commercial, too pretty. As a student in the heyday of Postmodernism (1980's) I became anxious and nervous about making work that was too pretty. I didn't know how to talk about them. I didn't want to make commercial work.”

“Out of frustration I wadded up the prints and threw them into the recycle bin. After a couple weeks had gone by I was getting ready to set the crumpled photographs into the alley for the recycle to be picked up. I unraveled one of the balls of photographs and to my surprise there was an immediate visceral reaction of delight when my eyes looked at the creases, folds, and torn edges of the photographic paper. In an effort to preserve the image I scanned the crumpled still life with a flatbed scanner and then, using a large format printer, made enlargements on a wonderful printmaking paper that wonderfully complimented the aged wrinkles.”

“Still Life with June Bouquet, Cherries and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $450 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with June Bouquet, Cherries and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $450 | BUY NOW

The results blur the lines of the medium by removing the slick surface and detail of photography and exchanging them for a distressed visual texture. Without intending to do it, Eckert brought his images even closer to the aged and brittle tactile reality of their inspiration.

Examples of this series can currently be seen in Altered Perceptions, an LVA Photo-Biennial Exhibit at Metro Hall, which runs through January 12, 2018. Some of the images we see here are featured in that show, which also includes work from C.J. Pressma and Jenny Zeller.

The artist currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is an associate professor or art in the Hite Institute at the University of Louisville. His work can be found in permanent collections of 21c Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Photographic Archives at the University of Louisville, and Swope Museum of Art.

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Education: BFA, Photography & Sculpture, Herron School of Art; MFA, Photography, Printmaking, Art History, Ohio University
Website: http://www.mitcheckert.com

“Still Life with Hydrangea (in blue)” by Mitch Eckert, 30x28in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $750 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Hydrangea (in blue)” by Mitch Eckert, 30x28in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $750 | BUY NOW

“Still Life with Lily and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $500 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Lily and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $500 | BUY NOW

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

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Photography

Vignette: Violet Herrmann

"Faces" (set of 2) by Violet Herrmann, 10x16in, photograph (2014)

"Faces" (set of 2) by Violet Herrmann, 10x16in, photograph (2014)

As a photographer and a designer, Violet Herrmann states she is, “…a firm believer in simplicity with a bold hint.” In “Mellwood,” her photograph reads at first glance as a captured ‘snapshot’ – a random glimpse of a passing moment, yet the cool, evening shades of blue are seductive, and there is tantalizing mystery in the dramatic depth found in the contrasting channels of space. It would all be a solid, albeit academic composition except for the hesitant figure on the right, leading us further into the scene but arresting that momentum by turning on their heel. It is the key to lifting the image beyond the ordinary.

All of which reflects the idea that good composition and design is a series of relationships, most of which might never register fully with the viewer, but will have undeniable impact on how a piece is read. Herrmann explains, “I believe that the best designs appear to have their components distributed randomly throughout the page; but one finds that every element is aligned to another found in the piece.”

"Mellwood" by Violet Herrmann, 17x11in, photograph (2016)

"Mellwood" by Violet Herrmann, 17x11in, photograph (2016)

“My work describes me as an artist as well as a person. As a stubborn perfectionist, my designs reflect my personality by carefully placing components in relation to one another while maintaining an edginess that makes them unique. I believe that a design must ultimately speak for itself to be considered truly successful. If I have done a good job on my work, my personality should be able to shine through and reflect me as a designer.”

Herrmann has worked as a Graphic Design Intern for Simon Signs in Louisville Kentucky and her work has been displayed in the Kentucky College of Art and Design (KyCAD) Gala in the 849 Gallery, Louisville Kentucky. While at KyCAD she was awarded the Presidential Scholarship.

Hometown: Charlestown, Indiana
Age: 21
Education: BFA candidate, General Fine Arts, Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University, Louisville Kentucky

"Louisville Door Series" (1 of 12) by Violet Herrmann, 10x10in, photograph (2014)

"Louisville Door Series" (1 of 12) by Violet Herrmann, 10x10in, photograph (2014)

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

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Digital, Illustration

Vignette: Jessica Booker

"Braid Boy #3" by Jessica Booker, 1920x1080px, digital illustration (2016)

"Braid Boy #3" by Jessica Booker, 1920x1080px, digital illustration (2016)

One can see the influence of contemporary illustration and animation in the work of Jessica Booker; that there is a good measure of manga seems obvious, but is there not a also a bit of Margaret Keane, whose “Big Eye” paintings were the source of controversy and an important progenitor of the mass market merchandising of art almost a century ago? 

"Braid Boy #2" by Jessica Booker, 1920x1080px, digital illustration (2016)

"Braid Boy #2" by Jessica Booker, 1920x1080px, digital illustration (2016)

Such a thought is what makes the work of so young an artist interesting. Would Ms. Booker even know Keane, whose court case to claim authorship of her work is now seen as a feminist victory for a female artist so subservient to her husband’s will as to feel it appropriate to bury her creative identity? If time is a river, perhaps artists are unknowingly being caught up in themes and influences like eddies and currents along the way, forever being swept downstream.

"Braid Boy 2.5" by Jessica Booker, 1080x1920px, digital illustration (2016)

"Braid Boy 2.5" by Jessica Booker, 1080x1920px, digital illustration (2016)

Booker works mostly from her imagination, but is inspired by people in her life, a blending of source and sensibility that asks questions about identity in an overly homogenized, culture saturated by digital media. 

She finds the approach somewhat liberating, “…not worrying about getting an exact likeness to someone makes creating more open. They are like idealized caricatures of different persona and personalities I encounter every day. Each face is different in the moment, but similarities start to show and imaginary bonds between these total strangers start to emerge.  

Playing with color, composition, shapes of features - even what they wear, tells what they might be like. Experimenting, for me, is important. Much like actual people, there are similarities and differences. I like to play with the details to make each person unique.”

In high school, Booker received a Scholastic Gold Key Award for Art and Writing. Last year she helped paint a mural on a Spalding University building for SoBro in Louisville.

Age: 21
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: BFA candidate, Painting and Drawing, Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University, Louisville, Kentucky

"Braid Boy #1" by Jessica Booker, 1920x1080px, digital illustration (2016)

"Braid Boy #1" by Jessica Booker, 1920x1080px, digital illustration (2016)

"Braid Boy..Wait!" by Jessica Booker, 1080x1920px, digital illustration (2016)

"Braid Boy..Wait!" by Jessica Booker, 1080x1920px, digital illustration (2016)

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

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Painting

Vignette: Barry Motes

"Annunciation" by Barry Motes, 30x40in, Oil on canvas, $1700 |  BUY NOW

"Annunciation" by Barry Motes, 30x40in, Oil on canvas, $1700 | BUY NOW

Barry Motes his studio.

Barry Motes his studio.

In his best work, painter Barry Motes creates enigmatic tableau of surrealist scenes that seek to explain some aspect of human existence. Often there are suggestions of supernatural elements in the inscrutable narratives, and, in the titles, the artist solves whatever mystery the viewer may be experiencing: Motes is unabashedly a person of faith. 

When one views Water & Spirit with no understanding of the source in biblical text (Acts 8:38) what conclusions would be drawn? How important is the race of the human figure in the bathtub? That his head has been opened and filled with water seems an ominous and disturbing image, as will most deconstruction of the body in art; but what are we to make of the bird in the small opening that could hardly be called a window. Yet the surreal anxiety is leavened by Motes’ deliberate choices in color and the serene expression of the man. 

The use of parable in religious storytelling follows a long tradition, but Motes marries the morality to unorthodox juxtapositions of object and setting. He is also unafraid to inject nuance into the message, so that the ghostly image of the iconic Venus di Milo statue seen through the door of a strip club provocatively questions the viewer’s easiest assumptions. Although Motes explicitly uses his art to express Christian themes, he does not relinquish the artist’s less sacred but no less important mission to encourage, or even demand that the viewer be an active participant in the process by actively thinking. Such an exchange between artist and audience is the final link in the chain of insight and understanding that is the imperative value of art to any society.

"Water & Spirit"  by Barry Motes, 24x30in, oil on canvas, $900 |  BUY NOW

"Water & Spirit"  by Barry Motes, 24x30in, oil on canvas, $900 | BUY NOW

Motes was born in San Diego, California and grew up in Xenia, Ohio. He is a Professor of Art at Jefferson Community & Technical College in Louisville, Kentucky and resides in Prospect, Kentucky with his wife, Carla. Their two sons, Zach and Griff, are graduates of the University of Kentucky and both live in Lexington, KY.

If you wish to see Motes’ work first hand, his solo exhibit Sacred Stories, Wayside Expressions Gallery, Louisville, KY, continues through November 27, 2016. He will also have work in two upcoming solo shows at the Harvill Gallery, Customs House Museum in Clarksville, TN. December 1, 2016 -January1, 2017, and at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY January 18-February 24, 2017. His work will also be included in 58th Mid-States Art Exhibition, Evansville Museum in Evansville, IN, December 10, 2016 -March 5 2017

Hometown: San Diego, California
Educational: MFA in Painting/Drawing, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TNB.A. & MA degrees in Art, Morehead State University
Website: http://www.jbmotesart.com

"Supper at Yummaus" by Barry Motes, 36x48in, oil on canvas, $2400 |  BUY NOW

"Supper at Yummaus" by Barry Motes, 36x48in, oil on canvas, $2400 | BUY NOW

"Midnight in the Garden" by Barry Motes,, 36x48in, oil on canvas, $2400 |  BUY NOW

"Midnight in the Garden" by Barry Motes,, 36x48in, oil on canvas, $2400 | BUY NOW

"Sibling Rivalry (Cain & Abel)" by Barry Motes, 30x40in, oil on canvas, $1700 |   BUY NOW

"Sibling Rivalry (Cain & Abel)" by Barry Motes, 30x40in, oil on canvas, $1700 | BUY NOW

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

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