speed

Photography

Vignette: Julius Friedman (1943-2017)

"Peony" by Julius Friedman, photography

"Peony" by Julius Friedman, photography

Artist, Julius Friedman. Photograph by Sarah Davis.

Artist, Julius Friedman. Photograph by Sarah Davis.

Once when Julius Friedman was delivering an informal lecture for Louisville Visual Art, he noted how the cover of his most recent book at the time, “Images & Ideas”, was a shot of the condensation on his shower door, and how he had once waited 2 hours for a car to move off a particularly fascinating oil and water puddle in a parking lot so he could photograph it.

Friedman’s images are characteristically so expertly constructed and expressive of a stringent graphic discipline that the randomness at the root of this anecdote seems surprising, but I think the lesson is that an artist does indeed see the world differently; at all times observing their environment on a fundamentally different level than the average citizen.

Art is communication, so if the ability to share that point-of-view is the most important measure of an artist, then Friedman must be counted as a Modern Master. His commercial work, most notably the posters that made him famous in the 1970’s, are brilliant in capturing the appeal of art in terms so vivid as to command the attention of all levels of society. In effect, he established a brand for the arts in Louisville, designing iconic images for so many important arts organizations: The Speed Museum, Louisville Visual Art, the Louisville Ballet, the Louisville Orchestra…the list goes on and on.

"Erica de La O 1" by Julius Friedman, 20x30in, photography printed on aluminum (2010)

"Erica de La O 1" by Julius Friedman, 20x30in, photography printed on aluminum (2010)

He did no less in his personal work, exploring technique on an esoteric level that always translated to fun and fascination for the viewer. He photographed Louisville Ballet dancer Eric De La O exhaustively but never exhausted the subject, producing dozens of potent images over several years. He photographed flowers, a prosaic and common subject that in Friedman’s hands become an astonishing example of his own relationship with nature. The same observation applies to his Becoming Wisteria series, images of model Alli Wiles positioned among the wisteria on his 200-acre farm.

"Toe On Egg" by Julius Friedman

"Toe On Egg" by Julius Friedman

In 2016, Frazier Museum in Louisville hosted a vital retrospective of Friedman’s work, showing more than 200 posters and also incorporating The Book, a project in which he deconstructed a collection of discarded books and which was his last published work. There was also a dazzling installation of color photographs on aluminum that, in and of itself was impressive enough to represent his creative vision, but what most excited the artist was an immersive screening of his most recent film work, flowing, abstract images of water in nature.

It was just water running in a stream – or it was simply peonies, or a painter’s palette, or an old book, but Julius Friedman always made us see the commonplace in a new light.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Website: http://www.imagesol.com

Nathan Felde, Fred DeSanto, and Julius Friedman (c.1970) outside Images studio. Photographer unknown, courtesy Tad DeSanto.

Nathan Felde, Fred DeSanto, and Julius Friedman (c.1970) outside Images studio. Photographer unknown, courtesy Tad DeSanto.

"Untitled #10" by Julius Friedman, 20x30in, photograph printed directly on raw aluminum (2015)

"Untitled #10" by Julius Friedman, 20x30in, photograph printed directly on raw aluminum (2015)

Book cover for "Images & Ideas" by Julius Friedman

Book cover for "Images & Ideas" by Julius Friedman

"Fresh Paint" by Julius Friedman, photography

"Fresh Paint" by Julius Friedman, photography

Artist, Julius Friedman. Photo courtesy of John Nation.

Artist, Julius Friedman. Photo courtesy of John Nation.

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

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Sculpture, Painting

Feature: William M. Duffy


“You have to be dedicated, but also giving of yourself.” — William M. Duffy


"African Heads" by William Duffy, prismacolor on paper

"African Heads" by William Duffy, prismacolor on paper

Artist, William M. Duffy

Everybody calls him “Duffy”. You say that name to anyone in the visual art community over 30 and they immediately know whom you’re talking about. A Louisville native who earned his BFA in Painting from the Louisville School of Art during its fabled heyday in Anchorage back in the 1970’s, he turned to sculpture after chancing upon an automobile collision that freed some marble from a pillar. He was fascinated by the piece of stone and took to it with a hammer and screwdriver when he got home.

Needless to say, William M. Duffy obtained the proper tools, but the story illustrates the unpretentious, workaday touch that seems characteristic of this artist. He has distinguished himself as a sculptor ever since, and a new exhibit at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, Folks and Wee Folks: The Work of William M. Duffy, puts a long overdue spotlight on the man and his work.

Duffy was raised on Magnolia Avenue in the West End of Louisville, which, at that time, was predominantly Black, but the elementary school he attended, Virginia Ave. Elementary, was more balanced racially. “In my school, I would say it was closer to 50% White/50% Black back then,” recalls Duffy. He attended Shawnee High School, by which time he already knew he wanted to be an artist. Louisville School of Art came next, where he studied painting with Bob Barton.

"Electric Slide" by William Duffy

"Electric Slide" by William Duffy

But the most crucial influence in those early years was Gloucester Caliman “G.C.” Coxe (1907-1999). The most notable African American artist in Kentucky in that period, he was known as ‘the dean of Louisville’s African American artists.’ Duffy recalls, “He ran the Louisville Art Workshop on 35th Street back in the day, and we all called him, ‘the Master.” Duffy, along with Ed Hamilton, Sylvia Clay, Eddie Davis, and several others were a loose group around Coxe that eventually was given formal shape as “Montage.”

"I Fear None" by William Duffy, silk screen

"I Fear None" by William Duffy, silk screen

“It was difficult at that time for any of us as individuals to get a show in Louisville, so we formed Montage because we thought there would be strength in numbers. Part of it was that there was a militant, political edge in much of our work, and that seemed to make it even more difficult to be accepted by traditional galleries.” Montage exhibited as a group for several years, including at The Speed Museum, before disbanding, but this was happening at a time when several young, outspoken Black people holding a meeting could too easily arouse fear and suspicion. “Ed’s Shelby Street studio was kind of our center,” says Duffy, “and one night we emerged from a meeting there to find four police cars waiting for us with questions – ‘what kind of meeting was this?’ – that kind of thing…because the neighbors had called them; and that was in a predominantly Black neighborhood!”

The group also sought opportunities elsewhere. “G.C., Ed, and myself were in a show in Atlanta, so we drove to get to the exhibit opening, and then almost nobody came because the Falcons had a big game at the same time,” recalls Duffy, laughing at the memory. They returned to Louisville the same night driving for 8 straight hours in hammering, blinding rain.

"A Little Bird Told Me" by William Duffy, 7.75x5x7in, alabaster sculpture (2011)

"A Little Bird Told Me" by William Duffy, 7.75x5x7in, alabaster sculpture (2011)

But Louisville remained home for all three men, a commitment to the community that Duffy worries is not carrying through with younger generations of African American artists. Having taught youth art classes for over 30 years now (including with LVA), Duffy has seen a lot of talent come up through the education system only to move on to other cities that afford more opportunity. “G.C. stayed here, Ed stayed here…we came together in support of each other, and I’m not certain that is happening enough with young Black artists in Louisville right now.”

“You have to be dedicated, but also giving of yourself. I still hear young people who have the attitude, ‘This is what we need – this is how you can help us… almost never what do you need – how can we help you?” It is a different ethos from Duffy’s halcyon days with Montage. “We were always encouraging each other, always working to help each other out. I built the turntable in Ed Hamilton’s studio that he still uses today. We always did for each other.”

Duffy speaks about his life with self-effacing ease, yet not without a sure sense of his place in the history of African American artists in Louisville. While arguably not as celebrated as some of his contemporaries, his legacy of teaching ensures a lasting influence on the past, present, and future of the Louisville arts community.

Duffy’s work can be found in numerous private, corporate, and public collections, including Phillip Morris USA, Brown-Forman Corporation, Kentucky Fried Chicken (now YUM! Brands, Inc.), Humana Inc., The Louisville Orchestra, and The Speed Art Museum.

"At Rest" by William Duffy, 6.5x11.6.5in, bronze sculpture (2011)

"At Rest" by William Duffy, 6.5x11.6.5in, bronze sculpture (2011)

Folks and Wee Folks

April 3- May 25, 2017

Monday – Friday, 10:00am-4:00pm

Kentucky Center for African American Heritage
1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard
Louisville, KY 40203
502-583-4100
kcaah.org

Hometown: Louisville, KY
Age: 63
Education: BFA in Painting, Louisville School of Art
Gallery Representative: E&S Gallery (Louisville, KY)
Website: http://www.wmduffy.com/

"On My Block" by William Duffy

"On My Block" by William Duffy

"Queen for a Day" by William Duffy, alabaster sculpture on wood block

"Queen for a Day" by William Duffy, alabaster sculpture on wood block

Artist, Duffy with his wife Sherrolyn. Photo by Jason Harris.

Artist, Duffy with his wife Sherrolyn. Photo by Jason Harris.

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.