The COVID-19 pandemic landed hard in Kentucky, causing economic devastation and isolating artists at the moment they need community the most. Many have lost multiple gigs and opportunities they were counting on to pay essential living expenses. Others are newly unemployed, let go by beloved arts organizations or from service industry employment.
So far $75,000 has been raised from Great Meadows Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, and two private donors to seed the new Artist Relief Trust (ART), which will provide $500 rapid-response microgrants to as many artists as possible, helping offset some of the dire monetary losses artists are facing.
Concern about the pandemic’s impact on artists brought together the coalition organizing this effort. ELEVATOR Artist Resource – a Louisville-based nonprofit whose mission is supporting and advocating for individual artists – is facilitating this timely and vitally important initiative. Coalition partners include: Great Meadows Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, Actors Theatre of Louisville, KMAC Museum, Louisville Ballet, Commonwealth Theatre Center, Louisville Fringe, OPEN Community Arts Center and others, including individual artists and advocates from across the state – uniting artists across Kentucky and creating much-needed financial and community support.
“Our artistic community needs help right now. ART was created to make sure they get that help and get it quickly,” said ELEVATOR founder and board chair, Alison Huff. “We also wanted to make it easy, with money given directly to artists and no strings attached.”
Applicants fill out a short online form and submit one link to demonstrate their work. Awards are based on need, though, not a review of artwork, and funds can be used toward any living expenses artists are struggling to cover. Artists in any discipline who reside in the state of Kentucky, or in Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, or Washington Counties in Indiana are encouraged to apply. Awards will be prioritized based on artists’ immediate needs for basic necessities like housing, food, and health care.
ART is committed to leveraging the $75,000 in seed money to raise even more for artists in need – and is asking YOU to be a partner. Donations large and small can be made throughGoFundMeto help make sure our community’s artists get the help they need right now. Anyone interested in more sizable donations or wanting to target certain demographics of artists can contact ELEVATOR for more information.
Another way ELEVATOR is helping to create community for artists is through a collaboration with Culturalyst, a New Orleans-based start-up that is building a national network of local artist directories, with Louisville being the first and a beta partner throughout the process. Culturalyst Louisville is an online directory for artists of all disciplines who reside in the Greater Louisville Area. In minutes, artists can create and activate a unique profile of their work including cover and profile photos, Google-indexed artist statement, links to all online properties, and a full gallery of work (songs, images, video). The directory is public and searchable by medium and genre, among other attributes. It also includes a “tipping” tool allowing artists’ fans to send money directly in support of their ongoing work, as well as a social-distancing-appropriate feature where artists can add their live-stream events to a centralized calendar. Artists or arts advocates who are interested in creating a Culturalyst site for other areas of Kentucky or beyond can contact ELEVATOR to facilitate the connection.
Get creative with ELEVATOR online using #ARTelevates, and watch out for some surprises on social media.
About ELEVATOR Artist Resource:
Developed as an outgrowth of Imagine Greater Louisville 2020, ELEVATOR is a hub for the creators of our community to access resources, professional development, and promotional tools to elevate their economic growth and community engagement. By helping individual artists have a collective voice to advocate for their interests and helping to remove barriers to access, ELEVATOR empowers our creative community to find sustainability in their practice and in their careers – in any discipline.
James R. Southard, photographer and University of Kentucky educator, was sent on assignment by UnderMain to circle the Great Lakes – Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario – and document artists, their lives, work habits, social networking, and physical environments.
Earlier this year, James submitted a highly detailed proposal to UnderMain and we are happy to now present the first two installments of a five-part photo essay series.
The links below give us a glimpse of how artists are living in urban areas like Milwaukee, Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit as well as small towns like Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sauckets Harbor and more.
All hard copies of UMZine #1, our curated guide to Lexington’s music, art, and literary scene, have been gobbled up. So we are making our fabulous little zine available to all. Feel free to download it, if that suits ya.
Just click on this link for you to get your eyeballs on UMZine #1
Another sold-out house! Lexington sure does have an appetite for Leonard Cohen’s music poetry. Hallelujah. The Leonard Cohen Tribute Encore was held at the Lyric Theatre in Lexington, KY on April 28, 2018 . Thirty-five Central KY musicians paid tribute to Cohen’s incomparable catalog by covering 20 songs and closing with all the musicians and audience participating in a Hallelujah songfest! The show was produced by Purple Carrots Productions and UnderMain. The original show in November was sponsored by First Presbytarian Church Music for Mission and was held at Good Shepherd Church in Lexington.
Did you miss the encore presentation? We’ve got you covered with a fantastic concert video filmed by Mark Rush / Shaker Steps Productions. You can watch the video of the entire concert here:
As a bonus we are also including the program for the concert so you can read about the performers and the songs. Just click right below and you can scroll through the PDF of the program.
So drink it all in one big gulp or sip it and savor.
I caught the darkness
It was drinking from your cup
I caught the darkness
Drinking from your cup
I said is this contagious?
You said just drink it up
On February 1st, the Great Meadows Foundation launches its inaugural Critic-in-Residence Program with Dan Cameron – an internationally renowned, New York-based contemporary art curator, writer and educator – kicking things off. His residency runs through March 31st, 2018. And his job? Well, to visit Kentucky artists in their studios and discuss a few things.
According to a Dec. 29th press release from the Great Meadows Foundation, “the Critic-in-Residence program is meant to bring a high level of discourse to our community of artists. The goal of the residency is to help strengthen and support the growth of Kentucky artists’ work and their engagement with the larger art world. Selecting residents based on their connectedness to artists, the foundation also looks to nurture ongoing interest in and build networks for Kentucky artists among curators from other parts of the country.”
Dan Cameron, Critic-in-Residence, Great Meadows Foundation, February 1 through March 31, 2018
As a curator, Dan Cameron, first came to prominence in 1982 with the exhibition Extended Sensibilities, the first-ever exhibition of gay and lesbian art in a U.S. museum, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. In 1986 he gained international acclaim for his exhibition Art and Its Double at the Fundacion ‘la Caixa’ in Barcelona and Madrid.
Cameron was appointed Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in 1996—a post he held until 2005—where he helped raise the profile of the institution internationally, curating exhibitions by renowned artists while consistently maintaining a high level of exposure for younger artists.
From 2006 to 2011 Cameron’s attention was devoted to founding and providing artistic and executive direction for Prospect New Orleans, the largest survey of international contemporary art in the U.S. This triennial, which is now in its fourth iteration, was conceived as a means of bridging the gap between the city of New Orleans in its post-Katrina state of neglect and disrepair.
Opening in 2008, Prospect 1 exhibited works by 80 artists from 40 countries and attracted more than 50,000 visitors. From 2007 until 2011 Cameron also served as the Visual Arts Director at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in New Orleans.
Then, as Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), from 2012 to 2015, he oversaw an ambitious expansion of scholarship on the museum’s Permanent Collection and relaunched the museum’s signature California Biennial as the California-Pacific Triennial.
In 1988, Cameron was invited to be the first-ever US commissioner for the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. Subsequently he has served as Artistic Director for the 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003), co-curator for the Taipei Biennial (2006), and curator for the XIII Bienal de Cuenca in Ecuador (2016). Presently he is working on a Midwestern Biennial, Open Spaces: A Kansas City Arts Experience, to be launched in 2018.
Along with his ongoing curatorial projects, Cameron is a widely published art critic, with several hundred books, magazine and catalog essays to his credit. Along with teaching on the graduate faculties of Columbia University, NYU and the School of Visual Arts, Cameron is a frequent lecturer at museums and university campuses around the world.
He currently serves on the Advisory Boards of the Madison Park Art Conservancy in NYC and the ARC/Athens Artist Residency in Greece. He has received numerous awards for his curatorial and scholarly work, most recently the 2010 Service to the Arts Award by the Anderson Ranch in Aspen, Colorado, and the 2015 Eminent Scholar award from the American Cultural Association/Popular Culture Association.
The 2018 Curator-in-Residence program is being supported in partnership by INhouse, an initiative of Louisville art collector and philanthropist Brook Smith. As part of this program INhouse will be a base for Mr. Cameron for the two months of his residency.
– from December 29th Press Release, Great Meadows Foundation.
During the construction of the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital Pavilion A in 2007 chain link fences were used to separate the construction site from pedestrians. To give the site a more appealing look, digital images depicting what life would look like inside the structure were printed on vinyl and displayed on the fences surrounding the construction site.
Shortly before the completion of the project, Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs, approved a request from Arturo Alonzo Sandoval. Sandoval, an internationally recognized fiber artist and UK faculty member, wanted to take the images that had been displayed on the fences and recycle them into beautiful works of art for patients to enjoy.
Sandoval, Alumni Endowed Professor of Art in the College of Fine Arts’ School of Art and Visual Studies, has been repurposing what some might consider “industrial junk” into pieces of art since 1965. He decided to use this same medium to create something beautiful from the construction of the new facility.
As soon as he saw them on the fence, Sandoval was attracted to the construction sites’ digital vinyl images. “I kept my eye on the main construction wall with the vinyl digital images mounted on it along Limestone,” he said.
Sandoval and studio assistant Sean Fitch selected pieces of the vinyl images based on their dimensions, colors, cropped forms and visual textures. The goal was to design the salvaged material into circular abstract designs. Those designs will soon be displayed in the very building the images once depicted.
“Circling Back” was installed in The Chapel Gallery on the ground floor of Pavilion A on March 1 and can be visited over the next six months.
This installation represents one of the many benefits of the University of Kentucky campus: the ability for two seemingly unrelated entities, health care and visual art to collaborate to create something that is beneficial for both programs as well as patients.
Following installation of the highly controversial mural by MTO on Manchester Street in 2014, UnderMain interviewed John and Jessica Winter in hopes of illuminating the vision of the co-founders of the mural’s sponsors, the public art project, PRHBTN.
The Winters’ projects kicked up quite a stir in Lexington. Some were annoyed, even offended, while others were pleased, even thrilled by the appearances of eye-catching murals in conspicuous locations all around downtown Lexington.
Regardless of opinions positive, negative or indifferent, the Winters continue to move forward with the project.
This week – September 15th to be exact – brings to a close another Kickstarter campaign announcing a Sixth Annual PRHBTN Street Festival (October 8th through the 15th). Featured artists include:
One of the biggest criticisms of any arts organization that imports national and international artists to the Lexington community is that local talent is frequently overlooked in the process.
John and Jessica addressed this concern in our interview (see Q&A below) and have recently pursued a formal partnership with the Lexington Art League with the aim of sustaining meaningful ties to local artistic talent.
The missions of LAL & PRHBTN could not be more aligned for this partnership: that art should be accessible to all members of the community. With this belief at the core of the partnership they are joining forces to strengthen the local aspect of this wildly popular annual festival.
“The Lexington Art League was the most likely partner for this effort, as they not only support local artists through their ongoing programs and exhibitions, they also support an international artists residency program that has resulted in several site specific art projects throughout the city and in the Loudoun House Galleries,” said Jessica Winter.
“Since its inception, we have been so impressed with the work of John & Jessica and their ability to present phenomenal works created by artists locally, regional and internationally which has enlivened our visual landscape,” said Stephanie Harris, Executive Director, Lexington Art League. “That is why we were delighted when PRHBTN reached out to us to present their annual commission-free exhibition in support of local artists.”
The inaugural year of their partnership will feature a commission-free exhibition at the Loudoun House Galleries that will be open to the public October 13th & 14th.
On October 13th at 7 pm, there will be a special panel discussion featuring local artists who are participating in the festival & exhibition, as well as guest artists including PRHBTN featured artist Patch Whiskey. Both events will be free and open to the public.
During the latter part of the festival – October 15-18 – Patch Whiskey will be installing a new mural on the community center adjacent to the Loudoun House in Castlewood Park. This site has been selected as a space for a new mural each year coinciding with the festival. LFUCG Parks and Recreation is serving as an additional partner for that mural location.
PRHBTN & LAL are co-sponsoring as this year’s special guest artist, Faith 47, an internationally-acclaimed visual artist from South Africa who has been applauded for her ability to resonate with people around the world. Her work will be installed within an interior space in the community and throughout her process she will create a documentary video that will be shown during the public exhibition at LAL.
The site for the mural is yet to be disclosed. Faith 47’s residency is being generously supported by LexArts, LAVA Systems and Block + Lot, as well as private donations.
Below is UnderMain’s Q&A with John and Jessica, published November 12, 2014. So much has changed since then, but we applaud PRHBTN for nurturing a vibrant and collaborative spirit behind street art in Lexington, KY.
UM: Why did you establish PRHBTN and what is its mission?
We started PRHBTN in 2011 because we wanted to encourage the growth of the street art in Lexington and do our part to bring art out of the galleries and onto the streets where everyone can enjoy it as part of the fabric of our city. The mission is to connect local and regional artists with internationally known artists in a two-part format: International muralists who travel to Lexington and install murals and a commission-free gallery show that showcases local and regional artists exclusively. During the muralists’ time in Lexington we host events and gatherings during which they can get to know our local artists, with the hopes that through these events connections will be formed between local and international artists. In addition, we facilitate murals and other paid projects for our local and regional artists throughout the year – we have helped coordinate more than a dozen murals and other projects in and around Lexington for our local artists. The official description is PRHBTN is:
PRHBTN is an annual celebration of street art that endeavors to bring together art lovers of all kinds—-from the loyal museum supporter to the skateboarder with a freshly stenciled deck. Although street art is often times criminalized, marginalized, and generally under-appreciated, PRHBTN believes great artwork has the ability to transcend labels. With this conviction, in 2011 PRHBTN began to invite well-known international artists to create new mural works on vacant downtown walls in Lexington, Kentucky. So far, PRHBTN has been proud to welcome critically acclaimed artists from the United States (LA and NYC), England, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and France.
PRHBTN funds these public murals through the generous support of the community, including those of private donors and local businesses, and with the support of LexArts and other community organizations such as the NoLi CDC. As part of the street art celebration, PRHBTN holds a commission-free art show and concert at Buster’s Billiards & Backroom to help connect artists with patrons every fall.
UM: What are your ideas about public art in general and what purpose it serves?
We believe that public art enriches a community by exposing residents and visitors to other viewpoints on the world. Art is at its best when it makes a viewer think – to move their focus from the daily grind and on to more abstract topics, to interpreting a visual piece presented to her on the street. Many people don’t visit art galleries. Art on the streets brings this experience into people’s everyday lives. Street Art in particular tends to present voices that speak to political and social issues and provide perspectives that are often underrepresented in the mainstream media and dialogue.
Providing an opportunity for these viewpoints to be represented and discussed adds a layer to public discourse within a community that is invaluable. Further, bringing artists in from other parts of the country or the world expands the dialogue even further – this art provides us with a window on the world and fresh perspectives. Public art also discourages the defacement of community spaces and adds value to properties.
UM: How many murals has PRHBTN been responsible for, to date?
2013- Kobra Lincoln Mural, Phlegm Mural on Pepper Distillery and Spyglass on the Water tower in the Distillery District, Gaia mural on West Sixth building, and Odeith mural on Bazaar building on N. Limestone.
2014- How & Nosm mural on Lex Park garage, ROA mural on N. Limestone, MTO mural on Manchester, and Andrew Hem mural on Short ST. There are also an assorted number of smaller pieces by ROA and How & Nosm throughout the Distillery complex on Manchester Street.
Eduardo Kobra – Lincoln Located on the back wall of the Kentucky Theater. Visible from Vine St. Photo Credit: Zannah Reed
Q: Do you believe there is a civic responsibility that goes along with placing works of art on public buildings?
Of course. PRHBTN does not, however, involve itself with the artistic process or with decisions made as to the content of the art project it sponsors. We follow the required procedures for approval, which vary depending on the nature of the wall involved – public process for public buildings and spaces, private boards of directors approval for corporately owned buildings, and direct conversations with building owners and artists for privately owned walls. We invite the artists based on their bodies of work, try to connect them with walls that they like, and then remove ourselves from the conversation. We are facilitators. That being said, we don’t believe that there is really any art being done on a large scale by internationally recognized artists that would be detrimental to the well-being of a city. All art speaks and whether or not the message is appreciated, it is still valuable. We believe that art is subjective and that there will always be those who subjectively do not like any given piece of art.
UM: What are the facts, as opposed to the hype, that you would like our community to know about the MTO mural on Manchester Street?
We should note that MTO has composed the story regarding the character depicted in the Manchester St. mural, which as we have previously indicated is a fictional/mythical creature, with an entire back-story. This back-story, written as an additional artistic piece inside the Pepper Distillery, brings to light the subject of a film, titled “My Name is MO” – which MTO completed last week. This film enables the viewer to grasp the entire project, it offers a completely different perspective on the mural. We hope that people will withhold judgment until they can see the project in its entirety.
PRHBTN’s official stance on the gang sign accusations:
We would like to note that the gang sign accusations have in fact been raised previously in connection with MTO’s work in Sarasota, Florida, where he was invited to take part in the world-famous Sarasota sidewalk chalk festival, which now has a wall/mural component. The piece he painted there likewise had absolutely nothing to do with gang activity, but it did cause a public controversy and the owner of the building did elect to paint over the mural, despite fairly widespread support for it in the immediate community. The concerns being raised here are in fact eerily similar to those raised in Sarasota, which were dismissed as lacking in basis by the police department there and also by independent research- there is simply no connection between the hand symbols MTO uses and any gang. MTO was nevertheless invited back to Sarasota following this episode, and painted three additional murals in response, which have been well received. MTO made a documentary about this experience, which We highly recommend you watch if you are interested in becoming educated on the matter. If you watch the entire thing we believe you will come away with a new respect for MTO and the way he sees and explains his art. Particularly toward the end of the piece he gives an eloquent, detailed description of the motivations behind his work, hand symbols, etc.
UM: Are there specific criteria for selecting artists?
We select the artists we invite based on our subjective opinions about their works – we invite artists whose works we either like or respect in one way or another. Each year we attempt to be diverse in the styles represented. We pay travel, lodging, food, and supplies. We give the artists freedom with respect to design, and they come because of the opportunity for this freedom and because they like the grass roots nature of our efforts. Final design is a decision between building owner and artist, and all murals receive final approval prior to installation.
UM: Can you fill us in on the total number of artists you have engaged, both international and local?
We have worked with 10 international and national artists and roughly three dozen local and regional artists.
UM: What issues might arise from artists not being paid for these projects?
The artists that have been a part of PRHBTN in the past have been overwhelmingly pleased to be able to have full artistic freedom over what they create and even what wall they paint on. For other festivals this is not always the case as the artists are paid a commission or honorarium for their appearance. We think that PRHBTN artists are able to feel more comfortable and create works that come from a place of passion without the complications that money may present. In fact, many of the artists have expressed the opinion that they have enjoyed painting here in Lexington more so than in other, bigger cities.
UM: What is your personal vision for the mural projects?
We don’t necessarily have a particular vision aside from the idea of continuing to bringing amazing artists to Lexington, for them to create art on our walls, and to continue to facilitate the growth of street art in our community by making worldwide connections between Lexington artists and the muralists we bring. Also through the gallery show we hope to continue to expose Lexington to our local talent.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin recently belittled liberal arts education, claiming that public schools are not turning out degrees of the “things people want.”
“There are thousands of examples of successful business executives, entrepreneurs and professionals who majored in languages, literature, arts or history,” rebutted a recent Courier-Journal editorial. “College studies can provide the technical foundation for very specific careers, but they also can inspire a broader view of one’s self and the world around us that can translate into a different kind of success, as well as leadership and civic responsibility.”
In fact, evidence abounds that the workforce of the 21st Century marketplace more than ever demands a well-rounded higher education.
“It’s not an ‘either/or’ scenario, it’s a ‘both/and’ way to undo the damage that separating (and thus putting into hierarchy) the sciences and humanities has done to inquiry and innovation. ‘Eureka’ moments rarely happen without some kind of cross-fertilization from other ways of thinking about a problem,” notes one poster commenting on this interesting article on the subject in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
“This is the view that beauty is a big, transformational thing, the proper goal of art and maybe civilization itself. This humanistic worldview holds that beauty conquers the deadening aspects of routine; it educates the emotions and connects us to the eternal.”
“By arousing the senses, beauty arouses thought and spirit. A person who has appreciated physical grace may have a finer sense of how to move with graciousness through the tribulations of life. A person who has appreciated the Pietà has a greater capacity for empathy, a more refined sense of the different forms of sadness and a wider awareness of the repertoire of emotions.”
In so many of us creativity wanes, then waxes, and wanes again, but the moment an artist perceives what may be imperceptible to others is forever present. For Patti Smith is was a ‘transcendent childhood experience.’ – Brain Pickings.
If we’re relying on the younger generation to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams. The 28-year-old pianist, clarinetist, conductor and composer has just begun his second season as music director of the Louisville Orchestra and he’s brimming with ideas on what to do with Bach, Beethoven and music made today.
Click here for more of Abrams’ NPR Tiny Desk interview by Tom Huizenga.