Savannah Wills

Arts

A New Approach to Facilitating Cultural Discovery

Do you remember the first time you went to your favorite local music venue, art gallery or  theatre? Was there a sense of community palpable in the room among those individuals whose interests brought them together, if just for a few hours? Did you discover a band doing something different from what you had ever heard before? Maybe there was an artist whose work you have since come to fall in love with. Something must have kept you coming back until going there felt like coming to your second home. Perhaps you created a relationship that wouldn’t have been possible without that one night at Al’s or that thought-provoking conversation at the Parachute Factory.

Al’s Bar. Photo by Alex Slitz ASLITZ@HERALD-LEADER.COM

The prospect of getting out of the house to participate in non-digital communities may be increasingly rare, but those who make the effort know that the reward for those unplanned experiences makes every effort and dollar spent worth it. These kind of memorable experiences are the ones that Infinite Industries wants to make more accessible and less rare for everyone who wants to be a part of the various subcultures in Lexington.

The Parachute Factory

For me, it was when I went to the Parachute Factory, shortly after I moved to Lexington – my first year of college. I wasn’t sure what to expect but found an art show that was more experimental than what I had previously been exposed to. (I was floored.) But I also found a place to talk and meet other creative people, and it felt like turning over a stone and discovering the existence of a whole culture I didn’t know about before.

But I got lucky; I had met the right people who took me there that night. For those of us whose lives primarily take place around other creative people, we can rely on our network of artists, curators, writers and musicians to let us know about their projects and other artists on their radars. From this we build our evening and weekend plans, but this flawed system leaves people out, and inevitably events become forgotten in the web of information stored within our skulls. The result of this is a fractured art community. Programming is strenuously planned, just barely funded, and yet attendance is often lacking. This is exactly the reason behind the existence of a new start-up non-profit organization in Lexington called Infinite Industries.

Dmitry “Dima” Strakovsky started Infinite Industries at the end of 2017. Dima is a studio professor at the University of Kentucky, a digital media artist, and has done curatorial work around the world. To Dima, Infinite Industries is the answer to fixing a fractured Lexington arts community. It exists as a website (Infinite.Industries) populated by several cards with information about local events in Lexington. The events featured are not the ones you are likely to see ads for, and the website shows only a curated list of upcoming arts and culture events in Lexington.

While there always seems to be something interesting going on somewhere in the city, the awareness of these events seem to extend only to particular groups specific to that venue. Thus his idea for creating a more democratic, welcoming and healthy artist community in Lexington is opening the lines of communication between the people looking for these events and those programmers looking for their audiences. No algorithms or paid promotions; these events are primarily from organizations without a large budget for marketing. Additionally, every time an event is entered on the submission form on Infinite Industries, this information is stored in a cloud database, documenting all the cultural happenings in Lexington in all their varieties.

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Institute 193

The realm of the Internet has the potential to be used in a way to make places like art communities more democratic, but only with the right tools – like Infinite Industries. Marketing for events in places like Lexington primarily consists of posting the event on Facebook Events. The rest of the process is simply hoping that the people willing to take time out of their schedule to attend will navigate to the post at some point in their algorithm-calculated scrolling. Infinite Industries exists to offer an alternative to this process. They look to cater to individuals in Lexington that are interested in everything from jazz and folk music to EDM shows and experimental new media art shows.

Dmitry Strakovsky

Dmitry “Dima” Strakovsky, Founder of Infinite Industries

Dima Strakovsky began his artistic career in Chicago, receiving his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago. Working as both an artist and a curator, he has shown works and curated shows around the world, including Moscow, Beijing, Poland, Los Angeles, New York, Vienna, and Vancouver. Though, getting his career started in Chicago seems to be at the foundation of his curatorial philosophy and artistic practice. In my conversation with him, he explained how in his graduate school days, curating shows necessitated using various alternative spaces. This created room for everyone involved to experiment and learn.

These alternative spaces, coupled with the fact that the art scene in Chicago did not force artists to constantly push a specific brand or ideology, facilitated an art community based on experimentation and the exchange of ideas. It seemed like an obvious conclusion to draw that this experience has shaped the work he is doing with Infinite Industries. Because that is what it is about: Facilitating these experimental spaces in a democratic way so artistic individuals and the community as a whole may thrive.

To get involved with Infinite Industries, follow their social media accounts for updates on upcoming collaborations and/or events. They send out a weekly digest of upcoming events if email communication is your thing. There are also several venues around Lexington that may be displaying Infinite Industries stickers (designed by local artists) – feel free to take one! Don’t forget to submit your event to the website for that extra exposure, and – as always – support our local artists and artistic happenings.

Arts

Make your FREE reservation now at reservations@under-main.com

UnderMain invites you to attend Critical Mass III: In The Mid March 15th & 16th. In its third iteration, after being hosted in Lexington and Louisville, the conversation will now move to Northern Kentucky to be held at The Carnegie Center in Covington. The Critical Mass Series is based in a common desire to create a platform for critical thinking in the arts: including artists, art critics, and curators.

CMIII: In The Mid will center on the experience of art professionals living and working outside of the major art centers for contemporary art. The panel-community discussion will also examine the role that written criticism plays in engagement of regional artists and institutions in a national and international dialogue.

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Natalia Zuluaga, Featured Panelist and second Critic-in-Residence for the Great Meadows Foundation and INhouse.

UM is partnering with The Great Meadows Foundation and INhouse and their second Critic-in-Residence, Natalia Zuluaga. During her residency she will make studio visits to a number of artists in the region as part of the foundation’s goal to help strengthen and support the critical growth of Kentucky artists.

Matt Distel, the Exhibitions Director at The Carnegie and moderator of the event, has also invited the following panelists to attend: Valentine Umansky, Annie Dell’Aria, and Sarah Rose Sharp. The focus of CMIII: In the Mid is Regionalism. Matt states that the aim is to discuss questions like ‘What is Regionalism and how does it inform opportunities for artists and writers?’ ‘What are the practical concerns for artists that are working outside of major arts centers?’ And ‘What role does art criticism (and critical dialogue in general play) in the careers of “regional” artists?

This event will bring forth ideas and topics relevant to anyone who values cultural critique with a focus on practical outcomes. The format promises interaction and discussion punctuated with artist presentations, accompanied by light bites and brunch cocktails.

UnderMain President, Christine Huskisson, thinks that the event will help build more meaningful and productive connections between people in the arts whether that be artists, curators, critics, or collectors. ‘My hope is that the Critical Mass Series, now in its third year, could become a space where we can discuss critical topics relevant to our growth as artists and develop a collective voice strong enough to be heard on the larger stage of the contemporary art world.’

Matt Distel believes the time is critical, ‘With any event of this nature we are really hoping to increase the level and, frankly, quantity of critical discourse around the arts. It’s such a vital component to the overall health of an arts community to receive and engage in dialogue around art projects and exhibitions. As mainstream news outlets drift further away from that sort of coverage, it feels like a really crucial time for the artists, writers, curators, collectors, galleries and administrators to ask what we want from the art critical conversation in this region.’

CMIII: In The Mid will take place on Saturday, March 16th at The Carnegie in Covington and will run from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. We hope you will join us the night before on March 15th for gallery opening of Open Source, featuring artist Sky Cubacub.

Make a reservation for free attendance at reservations@under-main.com. The Carnegie is located at: 1028 Scott Blvd Covington, KY 41011. You can reach them at their phone number:  859-491-2030.

Meet the Featured Artists:

Sky Cubacub is featured at The Carnegie’s Gallery opening March 15th. Cubacub first dreamed of Rebirth Garments in high school when they didn’t have access to buy a binder. Rebirth Garment’s mission is to create gender non-conforming wearables and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability.

“I am especially interested in Rebirth Garments being accessible to queercrip youth and I’m working on creating a program for making free/reduced priced garments for people in need… In my practice, the intensive handwork makes the process the most important part and gives me inspiration. For me, everyday is a performance where I bring my body as a kinetic sculpture into the consciousness if the people I interact with in passing and on a daily basis. I embody the spirit of Radical Visibility, and Rebirth Garments is my soft armor.”

http://rebirthgarments.com/#customclothes

Lindsey Whittle received a BFA, in painting, from the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 2007. She pursued a master’s degree in fashion at the Scholastic’s of the Art Institute of Chicago from 2012 – 2014, studying under “Soundsuit Artist” Nick Cave, all while maintaining her position as the Master Crafter at Kiki Magazine from 2012-2015. Presently, she co-instigates and co-coordinate unique art experiences at PIQUE art gallery and bed and breakfast.

“I am a fashion/performance artist that makes colorful transformable objects as as starting point to collaboration with others. A single piece of my work often has many applications and the work functions best when those applications are in flux. It can function as an installation, on the wall, as a sculpture or on a body etc. There are elements of exploration, change, transformation, interactivity and possibility in everything I do.”

http://www.sparklezilla.com/lindsey-m-whittle

Social Circle Site specific installation at The University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash. Found objects, enamel paint, screen print. David Wischer, 2018

David Wischer  was born in Henderson, Kentucky. He received his B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Northern Kentucky University and his M.F.A. in Printmaking from Purdue University. He has taught courses in Printmaking, Foundations Design, and Digital Art at both Northern Kentucky University and Purdue University and is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital and Print Media at University of Kentucky. Through his use of printmaking, animation, video, and sound, David melds topical humor, nostalgia and social commentary with his work. His prints and video pieces usually function as an inside joke for a generation that grew up absorbing their worldly knowledge through television and the internet. David’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and he has been included in many private and public collections. His work is currently on view in The Carnegie’s Exhibition, ‘Open Source.’

http://davidwischer.com/

“I Am The LEAST Racist Person You Have Ever Met” – Harry Sanchez Jr,  2018

Harry Sanchez Jr. was born in El Paso, Texas in 1980. He was spent much of his life on the border with Mexico, bust he also lived in many parts of the country doing menial jobs such as working in construction and the restaurant industry, providing maintenance to a golf course and ushering at a movie theatre. His mobility allowed him to experience and understand life and this society from the perspective of people from different social classes and races. In his earliest works, he used the same tools and techniques he learned as a cake-decorator, but replaced the icing with oil paint. He squeezes oil with a pastry bag over the canvas to explore the relationship between painting, sculpture and abstraction. In his most recent work, Harry gas used installations, prints, and other media to make artistic statements from the position of a racialized minority in the United States. He uses his artwork to comment on global matters such as the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the double-identity of whistleblowers who are hailed as heroes or condemned as traitors, and to denounce the separation of families following the deportation of undocumented migrants.

http://harrysanchezjr.com

Rose (for MM), 2015. Wilted rose sprayed with a mist of Balenciaga Rosabotanica.

Joey Versoza was born in Michigan and currently resides in Northern Kentucky. He has been a professor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati since 2013, and received a BFA from the same institution in 2000. He has shown several solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, and has shown in group exhibitions in Chicago, Baltimore and Louisville- to name a few. Speaking on his work he said, “It kind of exists as both; as a question and then also as an affirmation. His show, This is It at the Contemporary Art Center in 2013, was in part about “challenging the idea of masculinity in the midwest.”

Make a free reservation for CMIII at reservations@under-main.com

About UnderMain: UnderMain is a Kentucky 501(c)(3) dedicated to arts and cultural affairs in the region. Our vision is to become a digital meeting space that empowers Kentucky creatives by presenting arts of all kinds, community issues, controversies, contests, events, people, and critical reviews. UM is serious and fun. We love playing in the digital sandbox and presenting vivid content to you, ad-free, as we offer support to some of Kentucky’s most talented writers, artists, and performers.

About the Great Meadows Foundation: The Great Meadows Foundation is a grant giving foundation, launched in 2016 by contemporary art collector and philanthropist Al Shands. Named for the home that Al and his late wife Mary created, the mission of Great Meadows Foundation is to critically strengthen and support visual art in Kentucky by empowering our community’s artists and other visual arts professionals to research, connect, and participate more actively in the broader contemporary art world.

About The Carnegie: The Carnegie is Northern Kentucky’s largest multidisciplinary arts venue providing theatre events, educational programs and art exhibitions to the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati community. The Carnegie facility is home to The Carnegie Galleries, the Otto M. Budig Theatre, and the Eva G. Farris Education Center.  More information about The Carnegie is available at www.thecarnegie.com or by calling (859) 491-2030. The Carnegie is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign. The Carnegie receives ongoing operating support from the Cincinnati Wine Festival, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Kenton County Fiscal Courts, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. / US Bank Foundation.

About the Featured Critic: Between 2007 and 2012 Natalia Zuluaga was the manager of foundation programs at CIFO (Cisneros Fontanais Art Foundation) where she managed the foundation’s core programs, and from 2016 through 2018 she was Artistic Director of the ArtCenter/South Florida, where she developed exhibitions, residency programs, artist development initiatives, and adult education programs. Since 2014 she has been the co-director of [NAME] Publications, a non-profit press and cultural office, and most recently she launched and is the co-editor of the bilingual online journal Dispatches (www.dispatchesjournal.org).

Savannah Wills is a Chellgren Fellow and senior at the University of Kentucky. Graduating with Bachelor Degrees in Art History and Arts Administration in Fall 2019, she previously coordinated Critical Mass II in 2018, and will be working with Under Main again to help coordinate Critical Mass III.  

Arts

New Domesticity: Women’s Work in Women’s Art

Feminism is often perceived as an attack on traditional values and in opposition to family life. New Domesticity: Women’s Work in Women’s Art, the current show at the Parachute Factory and the Morlan Gallery, investigates how people identify with societal notions of womanhood, and highlights the malleability of this concept as a whole.

According to the curator, Emily Elizabeth Goodman, “these domestic works…explore where we have been, calling on the work of women ancestors to illuminate the present by considering the past.” Right now, change is occurring rapidly in how society considers concepts such as gender, family, and femininity in particular; but works like these remind us that the past is not actually past.

Institutional ideologies only last because people fail to question them; thus it is essential to consider how history continues to inform contemporaneity. Now more than ever it is important to think critically about one’s perceived place in society and how gender may come to inform conceptions of identity.

Stacey Chinn, “Bindle (I Have a Fear of Commitment)”, 2013, Handwriting in ink on bedsheet, tree branch, polyester fiberfil, 114″ x 26″ x 26″

Some of the most particularly memorable works in the exhibition are by Lexington artist Stacey Chinn, “Bindle (I have a Fear of Commitment)”, 2013, and “Bindle (Mother May I?)”, 2017. The former is a nine and a half foot tall tree branch and a tied bed sheet with polyester fiberfill, leaning on an angle against the wall. Ink handwriting fills the entirety of the white sheet with the phrase repeated over and over, “I have a fear of commitment.”

Both of these works reference the cultural conceptions of womanhood in a context of the masculine vagabond. The use of the bed sheet in “Bindle (I have a Fear of Commitment)” references domestic labor that women are traditionally expected to commit to, such as making the bed. The bindle itself evokes feelings of rebellion and freedom from conventional norms.

The size of this piece makes it stand out across the gallery, but the juxtaposition between the coarse tree branch and delicate bed sheet adds another dimension to the statement on feminine freedom. Even the act of putting ink on the bed sheet can be symbolic for rebellion against the commitment to traditional house labor. This piece asks how one defines femininity in the presence of a desire for freedom and an absence of a “natural” domestic instinct.

Stacey Chinn, “Bindle (Mother May I?)”, 2017, Knitted yarn, tree branch, polyester fiberfill, 19″ x 3″ x 3″

“Bindle (Mother May I?)”, made from a thin stick and knitted pouch, references gender as well as motherhood in particular. It is a much smaller version of the previous bindle, a little longer than a forearm, and notably uses a combination of pink and blue knit. In comparison to the size of the “Bindle (I have a Fear of Commitment)”, this one reads as a child’s toy, and the knit material mimics handmade baby’s clothes. The combination of these formal decisions disrupts cultural conceptions concerning freedom by revealing the masculinity tied to vagabonds, and using it as a platform to consider freedom abstractly.

Stacey Reason, “Lomas Tower”, 2015, Steel, glass, pressed flowers, caulk, concrete, light socket, LED light bulb with speaker, paper, 10:44 minute audio, 37 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ x 7″

Another interesting idea of domesticity is depicted in Stacey Reason’s “Lomas Tower, 2015. From Paducah Kentucky, her sculpture was partly inspired by her time spent living in Mexico in a “European style” housing development, which was culturally cut off from the community around it. The sculpture is comprised of steel, glass, press flowers, caulk, concrete, a light socket, a LED light bulb, and paper. From a side view the sculpture appears minimal and industrial. Yet, when viewed from the bottom up, a succession of pressed flowers illuminated by light at the bottom creates a natural yet sterilized aesthetic.

Lomas Tower” engages with domesticity by calling attention to new types of domestic spaces and how traditional ideas translate. By calling attention to the form and function of these kinds of housing developments, Reason identifies the highly constructed lifestyle they perpetuate. In addition to questions of domesticity, Reason’s work discusses issues of class as well as industrialism.

The materials in the sculpture are the same ones used in her own housing development. Using cheap materials while also perpetuating a modern lifestyle; these housing developments are indicative of deeply rooted impacts of industrialism on modern home life.

“New Domesticity: Women’s Work in Women’s Art”, installation view, image by MS Rezny

New Domesticity: Women’s Work in Women’s Art, on view through February 16th at the Morlan Gallery and through Feburary 24th at the Parachute Factory, makes a uniquely essential point about current cultural conditions. Ideas about gender roles and femininity are being questioned in society, no doubt; but this show also makes the point that conceptions of femininity are not only fluid in terms of time, but also varied from one perspective to the next.

“New Domesticity: Women’s Work in Women’s Art”, Installation view, image by MS Rezny

The emphasis on diversity in age, race, and geographic location in this show provides a broad platform with which to further consider contemporary womanhood and find common ground among the obstacles, which usually keep us apart. The show is described by the curator as “a criticism of the fictional naturalness of the affinity between domesticity and womanhood,” but along those lines, it mimics the female empowerment movement in society today.

New Domesticity uplifts female artists, and simultaneously critiques the institutional ideas that have historically limited woman’s power, while celebrating the present condition of women by evoking the past.

This exhibition also features the work of Jane Burch Cochran, Rae Goodwin, Judith Pointer-Jia, Diane Kahlo, Helen LaFrance, Lori Larusso, Colleen Merrill, Stacey Reason, Jennifer A. Reis, Kristin Richards, Justine Riley, Bianca Lynne Spriggs, Bentley Utgaard and L.A. Watson is accompanied by this 51-page catalogue.

About the author: Savannah Wills is a Chellgren Scholar at the University of Kentucky. She is seeking art history and art administration degrees and has chosen to work with UnderMain as her spring project. Christine Huskisson has committed to guiding her as she embraces the concept of criticism in both writing and by assisting UnderMain in organizing our second panel discussion on the topic: “Critical Mass II: The Value of Critical Discourse in the Arts – A Discussion on Authority and Accessibility in the Written Review” to be held on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky in partnership with the KMAC Museum and The Great Meadows Foundation. Watch for the UnderMain Newsletter on February 26th for final details and welcome aboard Savannah!