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Sculpture

Feature: Falls Art Foundry

For many, many years, the Bright Foundry was the primary metal arts foundry in Louisville. Even after founder Barney Bright’s death in 1997, the facility functioned under the stewardship of Barney’s son, Jep Bright until April 2016.

Artists: Matt Weir, Tamina Karem, and Scott Boyer

Artists: Matt Weir, Tamina Karem, and Scott Boyer

Matt Weir, Tamina Karem, & Scott Boyer all worked at Bright Foundry, and knowing Jep was thinking of shutting down, had talked to him about purchasing the equipment and opening a new Bronze metal casting foundry  on property they intended to lease on Portland Avenue, just across the street from The Table restaurant. They followed through and have now moved the contents of Bright Foundry into that location at 1715 Portland Avenue. They are still sorting things out, but are already working on projects and some small casting contracts.

Barney Bright’s River Horse statue at 6th & Chestnut was, of course, cast at Bright, as was Ed Hamilton’s York statue on the Belvedere, Bob Lockhart’s Robert Bellarmine statue on the campus of Bellarmine University, and many other local sculptures. Over the years there seemed to be plenty of work, so the Falls Art Foundry team are confident about the opportunity for work once they are fully established. But the journey to that result will require a lot of work  - and money.

Building plans by Mose Putney Architect

Building plans by Mose Putney Architect

The building, with over 55,000 square feet of space, high ceilings, and land allowing for expansion, is ideally suited to the task, but it will require modifications that will run in the neighborhood of $350,000 before the three will have met all of their goals.

Currently, the location satisfies much of the needs for the functioning foundry, with some changes needed in the floor to accommodate furnaces, extension of some interior walls to the high ceilings, and a second double wide door, but the team also has ambitions to develop what Boyer describes as, “our ideal foundry,” (the new building is about 19,000 square feet larger than Bright Foundry). Plans include building an annex to house retail and educational spaces that would enable outreach to the community. “Our long-term vision is for a sculpting campus,” explains Karem.

Artist, Tamina Karem with one of her recent pieces

Artist, Tamina Karem with one of her recent pieces

Between them, the trio can boast 40 plus years of experience working at Bright Foundry, and offer what Weir describes as, “a diversity of experience in materials and practices,” positioning them to be a full-service operation for artists in the area. “All foundries are collaborative efforts run by artists or, at least, craftspeople,” states Boyer, as he explains that the artists working to caste a bronze piece have a significant impact on the final result, often as much as 1/3 of the surface might change during the process. The observation underscores the importance of the relationship sculptors develop with a specific foundry. Bright Foundry enjoyed a strong reputation with artists, a reputation that Boyer, Karem, and Weir helped build and hope to carry over to Falls Art Foundry.

Artist, Matt Weir at work in Falls Art Foundry

Artist, Matt Weir at work in Falls Art Foundry

The technique of lost-wax casting is complicated. Weir breaks it down to nine stages, each of which contains several steps. Although all three have university educations, they learned the technique working at Bright. Because there is no academic foundry in Louisville right now, the opportunity to demonstrate the technique is important. It is older than one might assume, with the oldest known examples being the objects discovered in the “Cave of the Treasure “(Nahal Mishmar) hoard in southern Israel, and which belong to the Chalcolithic period (4500–3500 BC). Conservative estimates of age from carbon-14 dating date the items to c. 3700 BC, making them more than 5700 years old.

The Falls Art Foundry team currently rent the building with an option to purchase, and they seem nothing if not committed, so the smart money is on them following through and realizing their dream.

On June 2, it was announced that Louisville Visual Art would bestow the 2017 Barney Bright award of $1200 to Falls Art Foundry.

(Editor’s note: an interview on LVA’s PUBLIC, broadcast on WXOX-97.1 FM on 12.16.16, was used as a source for this article.) 


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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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.

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

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