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Special, Photography

Feature: PYRO Relocation

From The Firehouse to The Butcher Block: PYRO Gallery On The Move.

It was christened PYRO because it made its first home in a converted firehouse on Hancock Street nestled along Nanny Goat Strut. Yet it has always seemed a good name for an artist’s cooperative: a word suggesting the fire of inspiration but also containing a note of danger. As the members prepare to move into their fourth home at 1006-1004 East Washington Street, they seem poised to rediscover the upstart nature of their beginning.

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From the firehouse they relocated to the former Chapman-Friedman Gallery on West Market Street, one of the most beautiful gallery spaces in town, with high ceilings and polished wood floors. The location felt premium, but the traffic didn’t match the mission. Too many tourists carrying miniature bat souvenirs from the nearby Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and not enough art collectors.

Meanwhile, 10 blocks east on the same street an explosion of restaurants, local retail, and galleries called NuLu was happening, gaining national attention with coverage in the New York Times. PYRO joined in by moving to a space in the 909 East Market building. It was an effective exhibition space, but positioned away from the street in an L-shaped structure, it was hidden from view to passing traffic.

“If we had been one block west it might have made all of the difference,” laughs James “Chip” Norton. Norton has been conducting a tour of the new location, which still needs a lot of work, some of which will take a period of months to complete. As opposed to the idea of a large, single gallery, the new location is actually two adjacent buildings that will house five separate exhibition spaces for PYRO, as well as a home for DE Gallery Boutique, which has shared space with PYRO at 909 East Market. The two will be connected by an addition whose construction is currently underway, the foundation blocks still visible as of this writing. Beyond this is a common outdoor area that the building’s owner, Andy Bleiden, is planning on developing in such a way that it will connect with the businesses on the equivalent block on Main Street, Hi-Five Doughnuts, and Pho Ba Lu.

"Untitled #1" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017

"Untitled #1" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017

“This community - which is named Butcher Block - consists of several renovated National Historic homes and is a family of retailers, galleries and restaurants that work together to promote their members,” explains PYRO member Debra Lott. “The Butcher Block businesses will be connected by a green space in the center and we believe it will become a destination for tourists and local customers for a unique, relaxing, shopping experience.”  

Despite the broken up space, Norton states, “Once we are finished I think we will have pretty close to the same linear square feet that we had in the previous location, but it will be easier to have multiple exhibits when we choose.” There will also be a full working kitchen, which will help facilitate public events.

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PYRO Gallery was founded in 2003 by CJ Pressma, Marilyn Whitesell, Debra Clem, Erin Devine, Susan Gorsen, Michael Brohm, David Modica, Cean Peevey-Rosenthal, Mitch Eckert, Keith Auerbach, and Susan Moffett, who is still a member and very excited about what she sees as potential and possibilities: “Potential in that, this "Butcher Block" area will be a destination once all the development is complete - Butchertown is blooming! And possibilities in that having several smaller galleries will allow us to have more exhibits up by different people, perhaps some guests of PYRO. Not to mention some fun and challenging installation/performance artwork.”

PYRO Gallery’s FINAL show in its current location, 909 E. Market St., is a group exhibit featuring members and several invited guest artists. PYRO Squared, through August 26.

The current membership consists of: Debra Lott, Jeffrey Skinner, Bette Levy, Mike McCarthy, Susan Moffett, Guinever Smith, Bob Lockhart, C J Pressma, James Norton, Claudia Hammer, Corie Neumayer, Nancy Currier, John McCarthy, Keith Auerbach, Beverly Glascock, Shawn Marshall, Julia Davis, Kathy Loomis, Leslie Anglin.

The first show in the new space will be Experimenting with Light by Keith Auerbach. It will run September 7 through October 21, with an opening reception September 7 from 5 to 9pm. The exhibit will be part of the 2017 Louisville Photo Biennial. PYRO will also be open for the First Friday trolley Hop on October 6.

PYRO has a Grand Opening planned for December of 2017 - exact date to be announced.

"Untitled #3" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017

"Untitled #3" by Keith Auerbach, archival digital print, 2017


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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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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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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.

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Painting, Drawing

Vignette: Sunny Ra

"Radiate" by Sunny Ra, 32x48in, oil on canvas (2016), $1300 |  BUY NOW

"Radiate" by Sunny Ra, 32x48in, oil on canvas (2016), $1300 | BUY NOW

Artist, Sunny Ra. Photo by Dan Lubbers.

Artist, Sunny Ra. Photo by Dan Lubbers.

In striking abstract compositions, painter Sunny Ra uses the landscape form to investigate questions of identity in both a social and highly personal context.

“The foundation of my work originates from my experience of growing up Korean in Louisville, Kentucky. I did not have any Korean friends and since I spoke little Korean and could not read or write Hangul, I was an outsider in the Korean community. Similarly, I never quite identified myself as American since I was not white, and was living among majority white Americans.  I remember people would ask me where I was from or comment on how well I spoke English. I grew up feeling and eventually believing that I did not belong anywhere - perhaps nowhere. It is from this limbo that my night landscapes emerge and my journey into the obscure and the unknown began.”

"Untitled #3" by Sunny Ra, 9x12in, pastel on paper (2016)

"Untitled #3" by Sunny Ra, 9x12in, pastel on paper (2016)

It is a common, and let’s be honest, lazy assumption to confuse an individual artist’s racial and cultural identity. Ra makes paintings with no overt ties to traditional Korean pictorial forms, and her formative culture was Middle American, so it is fascinating to hear how she connects the luxurious darkness of her imagery with an evolving personal journey. 

“In these night landscapes, I revisit my childhood memories - what has been lost and what remains. Through the application of layers of paint, the images at first recognizable, slowly evolve and merge into the abyss of the dark palette. But through the darkness emerges light and color, a new image surfaces, perhaps this is where I belong.”

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 35
Education: MFA, Hunter College, CUNY, 2011; BFA, University of Pennsylvania, 2005; Painting Certificate, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2005
Website: http://www.sunny-ra.com

"Harvest" by Sunny Ra, 11x14in, oil on paper (2016), $450 |  BUY NOW

"Harvest" by Sunny Ra, 11x14in, oil on paper (2016), $450 | BUY NOW

"Untitled #2" by Sunny Ra, 9x12in, pastel on paper (2016)

"Untitled #2" by Sunny Ra, 9x12in, pastel on paper (2016)

"Kinetic" by Sunny Ra, 14x11in, oil on paper (2016), $450 |  BUY NOW

"Kinetic" by Sunny Ra, 14x11in, oil on paper (2016), $450 | BUY NOW

"Untitled #1" by Sunny Ra, 9x12in, pastel on paper (2016)

"Untitled #1" by Sunny Ra, 9x12in, pastel on paper (2016)

"Might" by Sunny Ra, 11x14in, oil on paper (2016), $450 |  BUY NOW

"Might" by Sunny Ra, 11x14in, oil on paper (2016), $450 | BUY NOW

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

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Fiber, Ceramics

Feature: Elmer Lucille Allen


"I love the academic environment. I am a perpetual student." — Elmer Lucille Allen


Artist Elmer Lucille Allen ( Photo by Tom LeGoff)

Artist Elmer Lucille Allen (Photo by Tom LeGoff)

When Kentucky Center for African American Heritage Center Director Aukram Burton describes Elmer Lucille Allen as, “one of our Elders,” he is not just acknowledging that the ceramic and fiber artist is an Octogenarian. The term carries weight in various cultures, but in parts of Africa it specifically denotes a connection to ancestors, the dead who remain vested with mystical power in the kin-group, and the elder’s authority stems from the idea that they are representatives of the ancestors to the contemporary community.

Elmer Lucille Allen is as approachable and convivial as anyone you would ever meet, but she is a “senior” (the far less satisfying American appellation) who has never truly retired. She earned the gold watch, so to speak, after 31 years as a chemist at Brown-Forman, where she was the first African American chemist to be hired (in 1966). In the twenty years since she retired, she has established herself as one of the most important artists in Louisville and an important influence on succeeding generations.

In person, Ms. Allen is an archetypal matriarch, speaking in the unadorned but nurturing language you would expect from any great-grandmother. She exhibits little outward evidence of the depth of her academic background, the years spent as a community activist, and the position she occupies in local history; she never wears her ‘status’ on her sleeve. She puts it this way: “I take it as an honor because what I do is part of who I am.”

"Untitled ELA #5" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Shibori Wall Hanging Red Kona Cotton – Stitched Resist – Dyed Blue Price, $2000 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #5" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Shibori Wall Hanging Red Kona Cotton – Stitched Resist – Dyed Blue Price, $2000 | BUY NOW

“I became involved in the art scene in the early 1980s when Ken Clay, then head of Renaissance Development, held the first African American (AA) Arts Conference at the Galt House. After this conference, the Kentucky Coalition for Afro-American Arts, Inc. (KCAAA) was formed. I was the first and only president of this organization that lasted 10 years. When I decided that I did not want to continue as President, the treasury was donated to the Arts Council of Louisville. I was a charter member of the ACOL and a treasurer for four years.”

Ms. Allen states she has never felt a bias in the arts, but her history before she was an artist is another matter, and reflects the time. “Remember, I came up through a segregated system and did not have classes with a white person until I was a junior in college. I experienced racial difference when Nazareth College (now Spalding University) graduates in 1953 were looking for a place to host a graduation event. The event was eventually held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.”

“When I graduated I could not get a job as a chemist in Louisville. The only jobs available were teaching. My first job was as a clerk typist in Indianapolis, Indiana, at Fort Benjamin Harrison. There was bias on that job - one person from a city in Indiana had never been around a "colored" person, but you have to be who you are and stand up for what you believe. ‘Speak to a person even if the person does not acknowledge you.’” 

Allen took her first pottery class at Seneca High School in the late 1970’s after her children were all grown and out of the house. She never gave empty nest syndrome a chance, following up with mold ceramics or pottery classes through JCPS and New Albany adult education. But this was still just the beginning: “Then I enrolled in a ceramics class at Metro Arts Center where I studied with Melvin Rowe. Also, while I was a student there I had the pleasure to meet Laura Ross, a national ceramic artist who encouraged me to take classes at the University of Louisville with internationally recognized ceramicist Tom Marsh.”

But studying ad hoc wasn’t enough, and, after retiring she decided to seek a masters in ceramics at U of L. It was while studying for her master’s that she was introduced to a second art media - fiber/textiles. “My thesis exhibition consisted of stenciled wall hangings and over 200 reduction fired porcelain sculptural boxes that were placed on boards on the floor, which meant you had to view the pieces while standing.”

Lucille Allen in a workshop (Photo by Aron Conaway)

Lucille Allen in a workshop (Photo by Aron Conaway)

Whatever racial or gender restrictions she encountered in her earlier life, Allen’s first years in the art world were mostly lacking in such difficulties. “I have not experienced any discrimination as a woman artist or as an artist of color. My work does not depict any culture - it speaks for itself. I create work that I enjoy making. I do not do commissions. I have been fortunate because I did not have to depend on selling art for a living. I retired in 1997 and have been volunteering in some capacity ever since.”

Yet she is not blind that many artists of color find it a challenge to reach wider audiences and secure their place at the larger community table, particularly in the visual arts world. “I think that one organization needs to take control. At the present every organization's president has their own agenda and is not looking out for other persons or organizations, and small organizations normally do not have a specific place, computer equipment, or expertise for such large undertaking.” 

One of the values of being an Elder is that you have been a witness to the changes in the arts and cultural landscape that surrounds you. Allen can recount a time when there was much effort in the name of unity and inclusion. “Years ago, Louisville Visual Art had a large (non-digital) database of artists and arts organizations. The Kentucky Arts Council funded two directories of African American artists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Two conferences were held, one in Lexington, and one in Louisville. They conducted free workshops for the community at the Chestnut Street YMCA, West End branch of the YWCA, as well as other venues. Bale McKnight, who conducted drum making at the YMCA, created a drum that was in Chickasaw Park, which was the first public art project in the West End. KCAAA was the fiscal agent for Educations Arts and the dance group founded by Harlina Churn.” You see, Elders know the history.

So how does Louisville recapture that level of motivation again? What actions need to be taken today to build a functional community network? Allen feels, “Everyone is waiting for someone else to do the hard work,” but individuals who want to be leaders need to focus on developing their game in crucial ways; Elders also get to give advice:

  • Organizational and leadership skills are a must. 
  • You have to show up and be willing to assume responsibilities. 
  • You must not be afraid to fail. You learn from your mistakes.
  • You, as a leader, must be presentable and responsible for your actions at all times. Remember the golden rule - Do unto others as you want others to do to you.
  • You must be punctual.
  • Respect the time of others. Meetings should have an agenda and should not exceed two hours.
"Untitled ELA #2" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #2" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 | BUY NOW

So how does this near-iconic status affect Elmer Lucille Allen’s work as an artist? Or does it? “My work is not impacted by my place in history,” states Allen. ”The work that I have done since 1981 speaks for itself. I have been the volunteer curator/director of Wayside Christian Mission's Wayside Expressions Gallery since 2005.  My goal is to showcase artists, some of which have never exhibited. My second goal has been to have an African American artist or artists for February. I have done the scheduling, press releases, fliers, finding new artists, etc., from my home. I think my presence in the art world has afforded me the opportunity to be asked to serve as judge for the 2016 Fund for Arts, as a panelist for Metro arts grants, etc.”

“I think that over the years, the community sees who is where and what you are doing. Action speaks louder then words.”

You can see Elmer Lucille Allen’s work as a part of the Louisville Visual Art exhibit Tessile Ora, at Metro Hall, now through May 26, 2017. 

Recognitions/Awards: 
Louisville Defender – Lifetime Community Service Recognition Award (2016)
Outstanding Community Leader by Metro Council (2016) 
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft’s First Art and Advocacy Award – Bourbon Bash (2015) 
Parkland Rising Up Project (2015) 
Community Spirit Award given by the University of Louisville College of Arts and Science and the Yearlings Club (2015) 
Spalding University Caritas Medal (2011) - the highest honor awarded to an alumnus 

"Untitled ELA #4 – Shibori Wall Hanging" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Natural Silk Noil – Three Panels - Stitched Resist and Pole Wrapped – Dyed Blue, $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #4 – Shibori Wall Hanging" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Natural Silk Noil – Three Panels - Stitched Resist and Pole Wrapped – Dyed Blue, $1000 | BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #1" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #1" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 | BUY NOW


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 © 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.