students

Print Making, Drawing, Illustration, Mixed Media, Painting, Ceramics

Feature: Studio 2000 - Making It Count

Studio 2000 students at the start of the program.

Studio 2000 students at the start of the program.

On a hot and humid July afternoon at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Center, the gym is alive with the sounds of basketball - the hard, sharp squeak of shoes on the wood floor and the pounding dribble of the ball up and down the court. But adjacent to the gym, 14 young high school students are working diligently, focused and oblivious to the soundtrack of frenetic activity only a few feet away. They are earning money over the summer - by making art.

Studio 2000 was for several years an initiative of Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation to foster young artists by paying them to create. It was, in effect, a summer job. After a time, it was suspended, but it was resurrected in 2015 as an ongoing partnership between Metro Parks and Louisville Visual Art (LVA). Studio 2000 pairs high school students who aspire to be visual artists with professional artists to work in clay, fiber and mixed media. Each participant receives a $500 stipend at the end of the eight-week session.

The program culminates with a public exhibition and sale on August 3 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Proceeds from this sale are recycled through Studio 2000 to support future programming.

Instructors Ehren Reed & Simon Gallo

Instructors Ehren Reed & Simon Gallo

Managing the program for LVA is Outreach Coordinator Ehren Reed, who reviews the applications and supervises the classes. She is also one of three teachers, along with Simon Gallo and J.D. Schall. Reed works with fibre arts, while Gallo, a printmaker, handles 2-D mixed media and Schall focuses on ceramics. Reed and Schall have participated since LVA became involved three years ago, and this is Gallo’s second year.

Carol Watson, a student at Presentation Academy, applies hot wax with a brush to fabric, part of the Batik process of dying cloth that is a staple of visual arts education. She explains that she is very active in arts in school, and will be the President of Presentation’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) in the coming school year. Next to her, Jenee’ Whitt uses one of two sewing machines to hem a small piece of Shibori-dyed fabric that will become a table decoration. A student at Butler Traditional High School, her ambition is to be a fashion designer, and normally she fills sketchbooks with her ideas, but she has no other access to a sewing machine, so this constitutes a rare opportunity for hands-on fabrication.

Joseph Falcon & Lilah Pudio

Joseph Falcon & Lilah Pudio

Also in the fiber group is Lilah Pudio, who is felting, patiently but steadily working a 6” x 8” field of alpaca with a small tool so that it becomes a handmade piece of fabric. Although she is anxious to make progress, the tool contains several very sharp, barbed needles, so the work demands caution. Only moments after Pudio demonstrates the process, Reed, who is working with the same tool, shouts out after catching her fingertip on a needle, dancing around the room sucking on her wounded digit. Despite the pain, it is a lighthearted moment, and Reed laughs as she explains: “We’re definitely the most dangerous area down here: needles, sewing machines, hot wax!”  

Joachim Uy

Joachim Uy

There doesn’t appear to be any such risk at the 2-D station, where Simon Gallo oversees a variety of techniques. Ella Gorstein is happily painting multiple images of a corgi that will be sold at the upcoming sale, while DuPont Manual HS student Braeden Helby concentrates on painting an original design on a skateboard deck, although he’s not happy with it right now. “But it’ll get there,” he assures me. “I’ll make it work.” Across the table from him Joachim Uy is sketching a design in a sketchbook. This is the Male Traditional Senior’s second year in Studio 2000, and he understands that he is fortunate to have had the experience. Working now in the final days of the 2017 iteration, he is intent to complete more work. “Make it count,” he says in a low, soft voice.

TaneJa Eden with Instructor J.D. Schall

TaneJa Eden with Instructor J.D. Schall

At the back of the room, four young women are industriously producing work in clay. TaneJa Eden from duPont Manual takes a break to eat a plate of homemade food delivered by her younger sister. Another artist returning for a second year, Eden worked in the 2-D section last year. “But we feel it is important to mix it up for returning students,” explains Clay Instructor Schall. “Give them different experiences.” Interestingly, a common motif in this summer’s ceramics work is the octopus. Elizabeth Hill (Corydon Central HS) is attaching octopus tentacle legs to her box project, while Andrea Priddy (Academy @ Shawnee) is in the last stages of an octopus teapot that is somewhat astonishing. “We all came up with the octopus idea on our own,” Priddy claims shyly. “We all had octopus sketches in our notebooks.” She seems appreciative when I note the suppleness in the shapes that wrap around her form so that the handle and the spout emerge as tentacles.

Braeden Helby  & Justina Grossman

Braeden Helby  & Justina Grossman

Elizabeth Hill & Andrea Priddy

Elizabeth Hill & Andrea Priddy

Fiber Group
Joseph Falcon - Academy @ Shawnee
Donielle Panky - Butler Traditional HS
Lilah Pudio - duPont Manual HS
Carol Watson - Presentation Academy
Jenee’ Whitt - Butler Traditional HS

2-D Mixed Media Group
Ella Gorstein - duPont Manual HS
Justina Gossman - Academy @ Shawnee
Braeden Helby - duPont Manual HS
Synclaire Thomas - duPont Manual HS
Joachim Uy - Male HS

Ceramics Group
TaneJa Eden  - duPont Manual HS
Elizabeth Hill - Corydon Central HS
HaYoung Oh - duPont Manual HS
Andrea Priddy - Academy @ Shawnee

Getting Out Of The Studio

This year the program was expanded to encompass public art in the form of a mural executed under the guidance of artist Casey McKinney. A wall on the side of Christ Way Missionary Baptist Church facing Floyd Street had been the target of random graffiti that necessitated costly clean-up, and when the church administrators reached out to LVA because of their MAPped Out program, Ehren Reed thought of beginning a new track for Studio 2000 that covered murals. “I was able to reconfigure the budget to introduce this new element that is so in line with our mission.”

Christ Way Missionary Church Mural

Christ Way Missionary Church Mural

Filming underway at the Christ Way Missionary Church Mural.

Filming underway at the Christ Way Missionary Church Mural.

The Studio 2000 mural was conceived and executed by these students:

Grady Gartland - duPont Manual HS
Nina O’Brien - Atherton HS
Milo Quinn - Fern Creek HS
Zavier Stewart - Eastern HS
Olivia Tierney - duPont Manual HS

McKinney gave his young charges a crash course in community murals with visits around town to some of the many mural projects completed in recent years, and the design concept was developed by the students themselves. Their first choices for inspirational message were a bit wordy for a large-scale mural on a schedule, so McKinney encouraged them to search a bit more, and the Robert Ingersoll quote “We Rise By Lifting Others” was selected.

Braeden Helby

Braeden Helby

Details of the mural will be reproduced as notecards and available for purchase as part of the sale on August 3.

Studio 2000 Exhibit and Sale
Thursday, August 3, 5:00-7:00pm
Actors Theatre of Louisville, 316 West Main Street
Sale Preview: 5:00-5:30 p.m. Sale 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Studio 2000 Mural Unveiling
Sunday, August 6, 12:00-2:00pm
Christ Way Missionary Baptist Church, 237 E. Breckinridge Street

Ceramic pieces waiting to be fired.

Ceramic pieces waiting to be fired.

Andrea Priddy working on her octopus teapot.

Andrea Priddy working on her octopus teapot.

HaYoung Oh

HaYoung Oh

Donielle Panky & Carol Watson at the sewing table.

Donielle Panky & Carol Watson at the sewing table.

Written by Keith Waits. Photos taken by LVA staff members. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Mixed Media, Painting, Drawing

Feature: The Future Is Now, Part 1 of 2

What is The Future Is Now?

"Untitled' by Lauren Hirsch   (Mentor), 19x30in, mixed media, $600 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled' by Lauren Hirsch (Mentor), 19x30in, mixed media, $600 | BUY NOW

The word itself has its origins in Greek Mythology, Mentor being the name of a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son Telemachus. Like so many things that have weathered the passage of time, the concept of mentorship in contemporary society has taken on a variety of nuanced shadings, but the essential idea remains the same: for an older, more experienced individual to guide or instruct a person who has less experience.

But isn’t that a teacher? We seem to have a greater expectation now that a mentor also provides an example beyond formal instruction. A teacher in a classroom setting might be a mentor, but a mentor need not be teacher in a classroom.

The Future Is Now is a program that pairs aspiring young artists with an adult, working artist so that they might provide that example by working together on projects that will be exhibited at the end of the process. Born in the mind of Daniel Pfalzgraf, now Curator at the Carnegie Center for Art & History, and facilitated by LVA Director of Education and Outreach Jackie Pallesen, the program selects students through an application process each year. Pallesen gathers a pool of prospective mentors for the students to choose from - working artists whose work and/or studio practice will complement the young artist’s creative talents.

"Healer" by Dominic Guarnaschelli   (Mentor), 47x35x6in, UV print, acrylic, steel, and electric cord on panel (2017), $800 |  BUY NOW

"Healer" by Dominic Guarnaschelli (Mentor), 47x35x6in, UV print, acrylic, steel, and electric cord on panel (2017), $800 | BUY NOW

The program is executed in conjunction with Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University (KyCAD). Andrew Cozzens, KyCAD Assistant Professor and manager of the school’s 849 Gallery, was a mentor in the first year, and the experience motivated him to work with Pallesen to forge a formal collaboration on the program. Now many of the combined meetings, which began on May 30, take place in KyCAD studios, with all the efforts culminating in an exhibit that opens July 20 in the 849 Gallery.

Those meetings follow a structure designed to give shape to the creative dynamic and demand communications etiquette between everyone involved. “Things can get off track so easily if accountability to the members of the team is not emphasized,” states Pallesen, who facilitates the early stages of the process. “There is certainly structure, but at some point the relationship between mentor and mentee takes over.”

That relationship is given a foundation of introductions and icebreaking exercises, formal presentations by each artist of their work, and some attention to art history. A series of critiques led by KyCAD faculty allow each pair to present their respective projects to the group and receive feedback.

"While You Wait (detail)" by Deb Whistler   (Mentor), pen & ink, cut paper & plexiglass

"While You Wait (detail)" by Deb Whistler (Mentor), pen & ink, cut paper & plexiglass

The Future Is Now looks for student artists who have substantial ambition to pursue art or design in their college choices. Most are thinking about fine art programs, but this year includes a fashion designer, Ballard High School student Nicole Scott, who Pallesen lined up with Jake Ford. “Nicole wanted a fashion professional, naturally enough, but I encouraged her to work with Jake, whose sculpture is so conceptual. I hoped it would help her develop the idea of concept and narrative in clothing and challenge her more.”

Eventually the pairings broke down this way:

Bobby Barbour, multi-media artist  -  Brittney Sharpe, Eastern High School
Deb Whistler, 2-D artist  -  Rashad Sullivan, Western High School
Dominic Guarneschelli, multi-media artist  -  Hannah Lyle, Ballard High School
Jake Ford, multi-media artist  -  Nicole Scott, Ballard High School
Lauren Hirsch, 2-D artist  -  Sunny Podbelsek, duPont Manual High School
Linda Erzinger, multi-media artist - Heavenly Tanner, Academy @ Shawnee

Mentee, Brittney Sharp

Mentee, Brittney Sharp

Brittney Sharp’s chosen mediums are colored pencil, markers, or acrylic paint. This year she won an honorable mention from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Last year she was a part of her schools Vans Custom Culture team and the team ending up winning in their region. The Eastern Vans team tied for 4th place after moving on to national voting.

Mentee, Rashad Sullivan

Mentee, Rashad Sullivan

Rashad Sullivan excels in the fine arts department and is an excellent draftsman. He free hands all of his artwork, which is often detailed drawings of animals and objects. He especially likes to use value in his artwork.

Mentee, Hannah Lyle

Mentee, Hannah Lyle

Hannah Lyle currently attends Ballard High School. They enjoy oil painting, and they are a member of NAHS (National Artist Honors Society) at their school.

Mentee, Nicole Scott

Mentee, Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is busy developing her own website "uNique Styles" and her fashions have been featured in the local Sew Much Fun e-Newsletter. In October 2016, Nicole won second place in the University of Louisville Youth Pitch Fest.

Mentee, Sunny Rae Podbelsek

Mentee, Sunny Rae Podbelsek

Sunny Rae Podbelsek loves to draw and create comics and characters. She mostly uses pen, marker, and watercolor but also loves paint and printing. Podbelsek has won many awards, including a total of 4 regional Silver keys, 5 regional Gold keys, 8 regional honorable mentions, and 1 National Silver key in the Scholastic art and writing awards. She is a 2017 Governor’s Scholar.

Heavenly Tanner's chosen medium is drawing, which includes graphite pencil, sharpie pens, and markers. Her accomplishments include winning the Kentucky Derby Art Contest when she was in elementary school, she also received a scholarship to the University of Louisville for art by winning an art contest put on by the university.

Tomorrow, Part 2: Critiques and Results


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.

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

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Painting, Drawing

Feature: 2017 Academy of LVA Seniors, Part 2 of 2


“I learned so much that helped me to become a better artist.” — Mayteana Williams


Student, Mayteana Williams working on a drawing.

Student, Mayteana Williams working on a drawing.

The art of youth is often the transition between the joyful, unfettered creativity of a child, and the first deliberate intention of an adult artist. The senior students departing the Academy of LVA for college in the fall have discovered that they have something to say to the world, and they are choosing to say it through art.

Moving from the idealized and fantastical images of children from Mayteana Williams, to the more polished and well-observed self-portraits and startlingly brutal scene pulled from archetypal childhood we find in the work of Madison McGill, we get some understanding of how young artist may surprise us with caustic social commentary or reach beyond the obvious assumptions of perceived cultural identity. Then Katie Montgomery shows a full embrace of Expressionism and an authoritative command of her medium in capturing raw human emotion. A child’s first art making is fundamental expression of their emotional being – the elemental satisfaction of finger paints, and Montgomery reconnects to that need.

Mayteana Williams – CFAC/Academy student for 8 years
Has been accepted to Spalding University for their college of art and design.

“I am grateful to William Duffy in sculpture, because I had never done that before, and Dennis Whitehouse, because I learned so much that helped me to become a better artist.”

Work by Mayteana Williams

Work by Mayteana Williams

Madison McGill – Scholastic Silver Key
Will be attending the University of Kentucky to major in Studio Arts.

“I learned a lot from Wilma Bethel and we had some great conversations. She has such a loving heart for every one of her students and is an outstanding artist! It was my pleasure to learn from such an amazing woman. Jean Smith was also an amazing teacher. When I started the mural, she graciously took me under her wing and assisted me in any questions I had for her. This was my first mural and without her encouragement and guidance, I don't know if I could've completed it. Both of these wonderful ladies have impacted my life greatly and have taught me so, so much. I would definitely recommend LVA to someone with an interest in art!”

Work by Madison McGill

Work by Madison McGill

Katie Montgomery
Has been accepted into and will attend The School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a scholarship.

“Classes with LVA/CFAC have made me the incredible artist and person that I am today. I've learned everything that I know from being taught and influenced by their teachers, especially Dennis Whitehouse.”

Work by Katie Montgomery

Work by Katie Montgomery

These students, and others, have created small-scale work especially for The Academy of LVA exhibition, which will be at Revelry Boutique Gallery May 19 – May 25. There will be an Opening Reception May 19, 6-8pm.

Revelry Boutique Gallery
742 E. Market Street

Gallery Hours
Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-7pm
Sunday & Monday, 11am-5pm

Work by Mayteana Williams

Work by Mayteana Williams

Work by Katie Montgomery

Work by Katie Montgomery

Work by Madison McGill

Work by Madison McGill

Work by Mayteana Williams

Work by Mayteana Williams

Work by Katie Montgomery

Work by Katie Montgomery

Work by Madison McGill   

Work by Madison McGill
 


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.

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

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

Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting

Feature: 2017 Academy of LVA Seniors, Part 1 of 2


“(LVA) was a game changer from day one.” – Emily Yellina


"Untitled #1" by James Inmon

"Untitled #1" by James Inmon

What will the next generation of artists show us? A glimpse into the answer might be provided in high school seniors finishing the Louisville Visual Art’s (LVA) Academy program. Most have been involved with LVA for years, beginning with Children’s Fine Art Classes (CFAC) in elementary and middle school before moving on to the Academy curriculum, which is only now in its second year, but there is undeniable ambition and individual expression in abundance in the work with which these students have stocked their portfolios.

There is also a sense of discovery; the exploration of medium and technique is fresh and unapologetic. This is the art of youth; the marriage of facility and ideas that is characteristic of artists at this age. James Inmon takes hold of a motif - the Mexican piñata, and places it in a range of scenarios that are tender, satirical, and political; Emily Yellina communicates an intimate, revelatory moment with a small mirror filled with compassion; Juliet Taylor brings heightened color into service connecting with street art in a dazzling, almost hallucinatory image; and Audrey Heichelbech injects a more overt autobiographical theme into dense collage work.

Audrey Heichelbech – Governor’s School for the Arts
Will major in Industrial Design at California College of the Arts

An expressive mixed media collage (paper and thread) by Audrey Heichelbech (2016)

An expressive mixed media collage (paper and thread) by Audrey Heichelbech (2016)

Artist, Audrey Heichelbech

Artist, Audrey Heichelbech

James Inmon - Governor’s School for the Arts, Scholastic Honors
Plans to major in Printmaking and Mathematics at Murray State.

“LVA opened my eyes to new mediums that I wouldn't have thought to try on my own, like printmaking. It's also provided me with resources to allow me to better communicate my own ideas with my art, as opposed to mimicking other artists. Both Sunny Ra and Rudy Salgado were impactful for me as an artist.”

"Untitled #1" by James Inmon

"Untitled #1" by James Inmon

Artist, James Inmon

Artist, James Inmon

Emily Yellina – Scholastic Gold Key, National Honor Society
Intends to Major in Art and Minor in Psychology at the University of Louisville

“In middle school art wasn't an option for a class to take in school, so we looked for an outside class for me to take so I could still be involved in art. That's when my parents found the LVA CFAC class and enrolled me in the class. It was a game changer from day one. Dean Mistler is not only an amazing art teacher but has become to be my friend and mentor in the process. He was the first to mention art therapy to me as a career, when I told him about my brother doing art therapy at the Riley Hospital for Children."

"Untitled Still Life" by Emily Yellina

"Untitled Still Life" by Emily Yellina

Artist, Emily Yellina

Artist, Emily Yellina

Juliet Taylor – Scholastic Gold Key, National Honor Society, St James Court Art Show Sculpture Scholarship

“Rudy Salgado helped me do what I wanted to do with my art instead of forcing projects on me. It helped me to grow with my Printing skills.”

"Pulling Myself Through The Creative Process..." by Juliet Taylor, 8x9ft, mixed media

"Pulling Myself Through The Creative Process..." by Juliet Taylor, 8x9ft, mixed media

Artist, Juliet Taylor

Artist, Juliet Taylor

These students have created small-scale work especially for The Academy of LVA exhibition, which will be at Revelry Boutique Gallery May 19 – May 25. There will be an Opening Reception May 19, 6-8pm.

Revelry Boutique Gallery
742 E. Market Street

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-7pm
Sunday & Monday, 11am-5pm

"Sheild" by Audrey Heichelbech

"Sheild" by Audrey Heichelbech

"Untitled #2" by Emily Yellina

"Untitled #2" by Emily Yellina

"Energy Is Everything" by Juliet Taylor

"Energy Is Everything" by Juliet Taylor


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.

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 bikesense.net 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
Website: http://www.toddcsmith.com

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"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

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