wood

Mixed Media

Vignette: Wendi Smith

Fetish \ˈfe-tish\ :an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit.

"Multicolor Stick Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed pine box, sticks, floss, beads, 9.25 x 14 x 1.25in, 2017

"Multicolor Stick Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed pine box, sticks, floss, beads, 9.25 x 14 x 1.25in, 2017

When we speak of installations, we conjure up memories of three-dimensional work that would fill up a wall or even a room – at times whole environments are created. So when an installation artist such as Wendi Smith builds small boxes, we should not be surprised that each one might come across to the viewer as a miniature installation.

"Bone Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed cedar box, jawbone, feather, bead, cord, 5.75x3.75x1.5in, 2016

"Bone Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed cedar box, jawbone, feather, bead, cord, 5.75x3.75x1.5in, 2016

The wooden objects are adorned with images representing small organic items that are matched by the actual items themselves, revealed when we open the snug and perfectly fitted drawers. Seashells, seedpods feathers, and small twigs are placed inside, intimately positioned with beads and thread; handmade bits that echo the forms found in nature.

"Bone Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith (detail)

"Bone Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith (detail)

“A long fascination with ritual objects has brought me to fetishes,” states Smith. “A fetish may be a figure or a non-figurative object that is associated with a spiritual connection, magic, or offerings. Creating a fetish is a way of making a prayer or intention physical, of calling upon an unseen power, of trying to influence that which we cannot control.”  

“These particular pieces are culled from found natural objects, and influenced by Native American design. They are not intended to be powerful or magical, except in the reverence for Nature in which they are designed and executed.”

If Smith doesn’t seek to overwhelm with these fetish boxes, there is still undeniable attraction in their mystery and discovery. The viewer is inextricably drawn to the sensuous warmth of the well-crafted wood and to the preciousness of the objects contained within. They might be seen to replace the aged cigar boxes and old canning jars that those of us of a certain generation can recall using to safeguard found treasures in our childhood. And what can be more powerful than memory?

This past June, Smith was a part of Curio Cabinet, a curated group exhibit at the Indianapolis Art Center. In February 2018 she will have a solo show at garner narrative contemporary gallery in Louisville.

Hometown: Corydon, Indiana
Education: BS Art Education, Illinois State University 1972:
MS Painting, Illinois State University, 1975
Gallery Representation: garner narrative (Louisville)

"Fetish Box III" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed cigar box, pod, beads, thread, 6.25x5.75x1.5in, 2016

"Fetish Box III" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed cigar box, pod, beads, thread, 6.25x5.75x1.5in, 2016

"Fetish Box III" by Wendi Smith (detail)

"Fetish Box III" by Wendi Smith (detail)

"Shell Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed cedar box, shells, acorn, feather, vine, beads, 5.5x8.25x5in, 2017

"Shell Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith, Acrylic on reclaimed cedar box, shells, acorn, feather, vine, beads, 5.5x8.25x5in, 2017

"Shell Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith (detail)

"Shell Fetish Box" by Wendi Smith (detail)

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.

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Mixed Media, Painting

Vignette: Patrick Donley


Where our army has gone and established a long-term presence, there has sprouted an interest in America’s game…” – Patrick Donley


“Taijitu (South Korea)" by Patrick Donley, 20x26in, mixed media on arches (2016)

“Taijitu (South Korea)" by Patrick Donley, 20x26in, mixed media on arches (2016)

Not very long ago, we were discussing the use of flags in art, and their importance as symbols. Patrick Donley is a painter, sculptor, and collage artist who uses found materials to a significant degree. In his artist’s statement for his new exhibit at Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, he provides insight into his process, but also illuminates how the weight of memory in reclaimed objects can raise the artist’s own awareness through discovery, in this case, tying in to themes of geo-political influence.

“The Flags series began as an excuse to use the imagery of ‘America’s Game’ in my art. For years, I have been fascinated by the gritty, rugged, glorious, and often tarnished visual lexicon of baseball, a game full of heroes, heroines, legends, myths, successes and failures.

The choice to use the flag as an inspiration was somewhat accidental. I had been making collage paintings on paper that were made up of horizontal bands like the strata of the earth, or like the stripes on a flag. The paintings being on paper seemed appropriate, more ephemeral - more flag-like. I came across a cache of baseball images I had saved including some torn up baseball cards found while walking my dogs (the source for much of my collage). So the Baseball Flags were born (however, I never understood why the championship is called ‘the World Series’).

“The Girl Next Door (Aruba)" by Patrick Donley, 20x26in, mixed media on arches (2016)

“The Girl Next Door (Aruba)" by Patrick Donley, 20x26in, mixed media on arches (2016)

The first pieces were mainly suggestive of flags: very colorful with lots of random collage, words and letters buried in the paint. After making about ten of these, I chose to leave the idea for a while and venture elsewhere, as is my way of working. Several years and several very different bodies of work ensued.

One day last year, I decided to revisit the flags, but this time I thought to use flags of the world as the platform. I had done a large commission piece for Kentucky Refugee Ministries here in Louisville, and while cleaning the studio I came across the images of all of the flags that represent the refugees who have been resettled into our town, and thus, these were my initial inspirations. After completing several, though interesting conceptually, something just did not feel right about the flags I was using, other than their graphic nature. Where was the connection to baseball?

“8 Men Out (Venezuela)” by Patrick Donley, 19x26in (framed), mixed media on arches (2016)

“8 Men Out (Venezuela)” by Patrick Donley, 19x26in (framed), mixed media on arches (2016)

So I researched how many countries are actually represented by players throughout the major leagues. The number varied, but twenty-something is the rough tally. From that point on, the flags became about countries that have contributed players to the sport.

One of the fun challenges of using ‘real’ flags as the departure point is that there is not a huge diversity of colors used in national flags. It is a fairly basic palette, which allows me the license to explore layering, variation, and texture.

“Daddy-O” by Patrick Donley, 8x8in, mixed media on wood (2015)

“Daddy-O” by Patrick Donley, 8x8in, mixed media on wood (2015)

At this point, I began to connect the dots between our military presence throughout the world and the growth of baseball in many of those places. It made sense. Where our army has gone and established a long-term presence, there has sprouted an interest in America’s game: Japan, Korea, Germany, Cuba, and Vietnam. But the list extends well beyond that to some places that honestly I could not guess why players would come from there: Australia, the Netherlands, Aruba, Venezuela, Columbia, Greece Baseball, Taiwan, Curacao, Brazil. And the list goes on.

It fascinates me that although Soccer is the ‘World’s’ game, Baseball has ‘the World Series’, and now, for me, that phrase finally makes a little more sense.”

Flags: A World Series, New Work by Patrick Donley, is now on exhibit at Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty at 3803 Brownsboro Road in Louisville. There is an Artist Open House Thursday, February 16, 5:00-7:30pm.  On March 3, Donley will open The Memento Series: Travel and Leisure at Craft(s) Gallery in Louisville. 

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 54
Education: BA in Painting, Davidson College in Painting; MFA in Painting and Drawing, Northwestern University
Website: http://patrickdonley.wix.com/donleyart

“Beer Is Food” by Patrick Donley, 8x8in, mixed media on wood (2016)

“Beer Is Food” by Patrick Donley, 8x8in, mixed media on wood (2016)

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

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Painting, Mixed Media

Feature: Keeping It Weird For The Holidays

Revelry Gallery located at 742 E Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Revelry Gallery located at 742 E Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202

“Buy Local” has become a rallying cry in American communities in the last several years, and with good reason. As outlined by the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA), the impact on local economy is obvious, but that impact extends to environmental and philanthropic ideals that are equally important. Businesses that market the work of local artists may not be the first local business that comes to mind, but Revelry Boutique Gallery exemplifies the points in the LIBA checklist. All of its products are Kentucky-made, its gallery space has become a spotlight location for local artists, and the owner, Mo McKnight Howe, has emerged as a community leader who works tirelessly in support of cultural non-profits (full disclosure: Ms. Howe serves on the board of Louisville Visual Art). As the intense holiday shopping season is now upon us, it is important to take note of the range of local creations available. Three Revelry artists provide examples of the range of unique gifts available.

"Scenes Of The Seasons" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Paintings, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 Each

"Scenes Of The Seasons" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Paintings, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 Each

Kevin Oechsli

For a holiday founded on the most sacred of events in Christianity, Christmas has become surprisingly characterized by lightness and humor. The debate that the holiday has become overwhelmed by materialism has continued for decades and will likely continue for decades more, but some that feeling is founded, appropriately, in the innocence of children. The good will and jolly tone of the iconic Santa Claus figure never fails to find welcome at this time of the year, and Santa always seems to have good sense of humor about himself. Artist Kevin Oechsli’ s perennial series “Scenes of the Season” takes full advantage of this quality by placing an uncharacteristically athletic St. Nick swimming underwater, surfing a high wave, or airborne on a snowboard. It should not come as any surprise that the generous and beneficent figure should enjoy himself to the fullest, but that he is never seen except in his traditional red and white costume just might.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 55

"Three Wise Men (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 |  BUY NOW

"Three Wise Men (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 | BUY NOW

"Santa, Sled, and R eindeer  (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 |  BUY NOW

"Santa, Sled, and Reindeer (Scenes Of The Seasons)" by Kevin Oechsli, Mini Painting, Acrylic on Wood (2016), $30 | BUY NOW

Various Works   by Wood & Twine, wood, string (2016)

Various Works by Wood & Twine, wood, string (2016)

Wood & Twine

An emphasis on “local” artists and craftspeople might not require motifs unique to Louisville, but perhaps it is inevitable that at the intersection of creativity and commerce we find community pride. Melody Niemann and Jessica England, who together form the team Wood & Twine, make no bones about their love for their hometown: “We feel that it is important to represent Louisville and its distinct culture in our artwork. This can be seen in pieces such as Kentucky, Louisville Skyline and Fleur de Lis. Our participation in the Louisville art scene, such as the Flea off Market, Deck the Walls, Cuteopia!, and local charity events, exemplifies the importance we place on giving back to the city that raised us.”

The simple appeal is not dissimilar to folk art, one of the virtues of which is the ability to connect on straightforward level with a wide audience. “Our artwork takes a very unique approach to utilizing raw materials. Using wood, nails and twine, we are able to create distinct pieces with an unprocessed and rustic, yet simple feel. Our work is very accessible to all, available in a variety of sizes and designs. And no two pieces are exactly the same, making each a one-of-a-kind staple for the home.”

Name: Melody Niemann and Jessica England (Wood & Twine)
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 23 and 25
Education: BA in Marketing, with Minors in Communications and Management, University of Louisville (both)
Website: https://www.instagram.com/woodntwine/

“Louisville Skyline” by Wood & Twine, 16x12in, wood, string (2016), $75 |  BUY NOW

“Louisville Skyline” by Wood & Twine, 16x12in, wood, string (2016), $75 | BUY NOW

“But First, Bourbon” by Wood & Twine, 6x8in, wood, string (2016), $35 |  BUY NOW

“But First, Bourbon” by Wood & Twine, 6x8in, wood, string (2016), $35 | BUY NOW

“My Old Kentucky Home” by Wood & Twine, 8x6in, wood, string (2016), $35 |  BUY NOW

“My Old Kentucky Home” by Wood & Twine, 8x6in, wood, string (2016), $35 | BUY NOW

"Inspiration Bracelets" by Gretchen Leachman

"Inspiration Bracelets" by Gretchen Leachman

Gretchen Leachman

Gretchen Leachman works in a variety of mediums, but the majority of her time is spent in jewelry design, mainly working with metal, wire, and gemstones. Some of the pieces are plaintive and understated, such as the necklace charms we see here, but others are more intricate and luxurious in their impact. “I pay close attention to creating pieces that will have meaning for the person wearing it,” explains Leachman.

She is currently involved in several pen & ink projects as well. “One of my current favorites involves collecting a series of words from family members about their home and family life … then using those words to depict a drawing of their house. Thoughts & feelings are the heart of what makes each home unique and loved, and I want to capture that as a reminder to those living there.”

“I love art. I always have. I fully support the theory that art should be fun and inspirational, and that is what I want to bring out in everything I do. It is my goal to make a connection with each individual, providing a small reminder of inner strength, joy and empowerment. Everyone has greatness and worth. Sometimes we just need a tangible reminder that we are, indeed, enough.”

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: SHA 1990; BA, Advertising, Western Kentucky University 1994
Website: http://www.GretchenLeachmanDesigns.com

"Symbols Of Peace Made With Vintage Safety Pins" by Gretchen Leachman

"Symbols Of Peace Made With Vintage Safety Pins" by Gretchen Leachman

" Hammered & Stamped Necklaces " by   Gretchen Leachman

"Hammered & Stamped Necklaces" by Gretchen Leachman

Other artists to be found at Revelry include painters Bob Lockhart, Julio Cesar, Melissa Crase, Ewa Perz, Joshua Jenkins, Erik Orr, and Gibbs Rounsavall, jewelry makers Rachael Erickson and Lindsay Hack, and household crafts by Ashleigh Anthony, DayNa Gliebe, Paul Nelson and Mark McGee, just to name a few.

Mo McKnight Howe, Molly Huffman and Major Hanging Out At Revelry Gallery.

Mo McKnight Howe, Molly Huffman and Major Hanging Out At Revelry Gallery.

In Louisville, the Buy Local catchphrase is “Keeping Louisville Weird,” which captures the unique tone of the River City’s celebration of the individualism of locally owned businesses. Flair and eccentricity are part and parcel of the experience, in which the idiosyncratic personalities of the owners are a crucial part of the identity of the enterprise. When you visit Revelry this holiday season, you also will meet Mo, Molly, and Major (the official greeter), and that personal connection to the community they represent gives added value to the shopping experience and deeper meaning to the act of giving.


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.


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Painting, Ceramics

Vignette: David Keator

A photograph of David Keator taken by Geoff Carr.

A photograph of David Keator taken by Geoff Carr.

“ Resurgence ” by David Keator, 30x38in, oil on canvas (2014), $1000 |  BUY NOW

Resurgence” by David Keator, 30x38in, oil on canvas (2014), $1000 | BUY NOW

During the first part of his life as an artist, David Keator was celebrated for unique ceramic work: traditional forms such as vessels and pots featuring details of great delicacy, but also furniture pieces. Dorothy Weil, writing in Cincinnati Magazine in June 1986 describes how Keator’s work at that time, “…brings out the elegant side of Art Deco. His tables are crafted of wood, marble, and porcelain, and have formal, classic, straight lines and pretty Deco blues and pinks. Humor and whimsy come out when Keator decides to throw in zigzag legs or create a table and vase in one.” 

Keator worked in Louisville for many years, including a stint as Professor of Ceramics at the Louisville School of Art. Later he moved to Florida and, in his last years, turned to painting when arthritis made the intricacy of his ceramics work a challenge. In a statement from 2013, Keator talked about the change in medium: “Paint became my new fascination and ‘creative outlet.’ My paintings are non-representational. They are a search for the impression or expression of objects or subjects in a spontaneously responsive manner.”

Perhaps there is more of a relationship between the work with which Keator made his reputation and the work with he makes his last artistic statements. The sophisticated surface treatments on clay give way to a more abstract but no less sophisticated development of the painted canvas surface. Curvilinear figures and jewel-like geometric shapes echo the Deco qualities Weil refers to 30 years ago. The nature of the work may have changed over time, but the character of it remains consistent to Keator’s overall aesthetic.

A silent auction of David Keator’s paintings will be held at Headliner’s Music Hall in Louisville November 6 from 4:00-6:00pm. All proceeds will go to Louisville Visual Arts and the Louisville Fund for the Arts.

David Keator
(1951-2016)

"Abrupt Turbulence" by David Keator, 15x20.5in, oil on canvas (2014), $600   |  BUY NOW

"Abrupt Turbulence" by David Keator, 15x20.5in, oil on canvas (2014), $600 | BUY NOW

“Fallen Skies” by David Keator, 13x31in, oil on canvas, $950 |  BUY NOW

“Fallen Skies” by David Keator, 13x31in, oil on canvas, $950 | BUY NOW

“Gathering Impulses” by David Keator, 10.5x29.5, oil on canvas (2014) $800 |  BUY NOW

“Gathering Impulses” by David Keator, 10.5x29.5, oil on canvas (2014) $800 | BUY NOW

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

Please contact    josh@louisvillevisualart.org    for further information on advertising through Artebella.

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