Category Archives: painting

Carrying the Torch: Walter Early Sculptures

ImageDenise Furnish and Walter Early: Color Stories Installation View

This is the last weekend to check out the exhibition Denise Furnish and Walter Early: Color Stories. Here on the KMAC blog we have explored the processes, motivations and cultural implications behind Denise Furnish’s repurposed quilts, and now we take a deeper look into the salvaged and reshaped forms from sculptor Walter Early.

Walter Early arranges broken and displaced forms into new settings and new relationships. His work, A Day in May, was included in last summer’s 7 BORDERS exhibition here at KMAC. In that work he repositioned a set of tobacco sticks, removing them from the environment they are typically associated and presented them in the gallery, on a shelf, leaning against a wall. This was intended to give new context, form and meaning to this common tool for curing tobacco leaves. The sticks take on a vista like quality where a viewer can get a sense of looking into a forest or a line of tress along side a road. This idea of play in altering an object’s former meaning continues into Early’s recent sculpture made from clay, wood, MDF, and steel.

For the pieces on display at KMAC Early sourced his materials from fellow sculptors, who had thrown out some of their failed experiments intending for them to be melted down and destroyed. Taking his welding torch and working in a similar twentieth century modernist language as Anthony Caro and John Chamberlain, he manipulates the shape, color and volume of his metal castaways. Once the desired form is achieved he power coats the surfaces of his sculptures in bright, bold, monochromatic colors. Caro and Chamberlain are well known for pushing the formalist art boundaries of modernist sculpture. They are important in the context of Walter’s work as they both represent the shift that allowed for a broader range of materials and practices to be brought into the art discourse. Early furthers the objectives set forth by these artists, maintaining the relevance for the appropriation of found materials. Through a series of rigorous alterations Early presents anew these remnants from other artists, providing a narrative for the material as it moves from its previous state into its new form. After reworking the borrowed metal he reverses a pivotal move made by Caro, who famously removed sculpture from it’s plinth, and places the finished works onto pedestals, or in this case onto whitewashed pieces of furniture, reestablishing the previously abandoned forms as artworks, elevating them to a new domesticated status.

Bucking the Trend: Art Innovators on KMAC Radio

Tune in Mondays to KMAC Radio on ArtxFM from 11am to 12p where we use radio as a vehicle for exploring art, music, and social ideas. It’s simple to listen: Go to artxfm.com and click PLAY on the embedded player located in the upper left corner of the website. Monday’s show will be hosted by KMAC’s Communications Director Julie Gross and she’ll be discussing Bucking the Trend: Art Innovators.

On my recent trip to Rome and Florence Italy, I got more than the brain can handle in terms of sensory overload. Beauty lives in every corner and facet of these cities and I discovered more than just the art from the Renaissance masters.

"Portrait of the Dwarf Morgante" by Agnolo di Cosimo, called Bronzino. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
“Portrait of the Dwarf Morgante” by Agnolo di Cosimo, called Bronzino. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Marcel Duchamp, In advance of the broken arm, 1915. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome.
Marcel Duchamp, In advance of the broken arm, 1915. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome.
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
Duchamp, Re-Made in Italy Exhibition at the Galleria nazionale d'arte moderna, Rome
Duchamp, Re-Made in Italy Exhibition at the Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna, Rome
Urs Fischer, Bed/Horse 2013. Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Urs Fischer, Bed/Horse 2013. Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Eero Saarinen, Tulip Chair blueprints, 1957
Eero Saarinen, Tulip Chair blueprints, 1957

Art of Celebrity on KMAC Radio

Tune in Mondays to KMAC Radio on ArtxFM from 11am to 12p where we use radio as a vehicle for exploring art, music, and social ideas. Go to artxfm.com and click PLAY on the embedded player located in the upper left corner of the website.

Today’s show is hosted by KMAC’s Communications Director Julie Gross and we’ll be discussing the Art of Celebrity (or art that is inspired by a person’s celebrity status). This topic was derived from KMAC’s current exhibit Gene Spatz: The Art of a Paparazzo. The artwork discussed on today’s radio hour will be:

Gene Spatz,
Gene Spatz, A Little Night Music at Studio 54. 3/6/1978
Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London 67, 1968-69
Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London 67, 1968-69
Photo from the Daily Telegraph UK
Photo from the Daily Telegraph UK
Gene Spatz, Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger at the reopening of the Copacabana club. 10/14/76
Gene Spatz, Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger at the reopening of the Copacabana club.
10/14/76
Andy Warhol, LizaMinelli, 1979, polaroid and painting,  courtesy Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol, LizaMinelli, 1979, polaroid and painting, courtesy Andy Warhol Museum
Elizabeth Peyton, Arsenal (Prince Harry), 1997
Elizabeth Peyton, Arsenal (Prince Harry), 1997

kmacradio6
Special Guest Louisville Composer Daniel Gilliam will also be on the show discussing his newest work Jesse Stuart Songs that will be performed by bass-baritone Nathan Wilson and Andrew Fleischmann on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7pm at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. This performance is free and open to the public.

Jesse Stuart, courtesy of Life Magazine 1954
Jesse Stuart, courtesy of Life Magazine 1954

Jesse Stuart was the 1954 Kentucky poet laureate and an American writer known for his short stories and poetry about Southern Appalachia. Jesse Stuart Songs consists of five sonnets from Stuart’s largest collection of poetry, Man with a Bull-Tongue Plow.

Songs and poems featured on the show:

Spring in Kentucky Hills

Spring in Kentucky hills will soon awaken;
The sap will run every vein of tree.
Green will come to the land bleak and forsaken;
Warm silver wind will catch the honey bee.
Blood-root will whiten on the barren hill;
Wind-flowers will grow beneath the oaks and nod
To silver April wind against their will.
Bitterns will break the silence of the hills
And meadow’s grass sup dew under the moons,
Pastures will green and bring back whippoorwills
And butterflies that break from stout cocoons.
Spring in Kentucky hills and I shall be
A free soil-man to walk beneath the trees
And listen to the wind among the leaves
And count the stars and do as I damn please.

Oh Don’t You See

Oh, don’t you see the willow leaves this Spring
And bright green finger needles on the fir?
Birds choose to light among their boughs and sing;
It’s where the summer jar-flies choose to churr.
And don’t you love the silver maple leaves
Upturned by silver winds to skies deep blue.
And don’t you love the leaves on white oak trees
And beech tree leaves when winds are blowing through?
And don’t you love green whispering corn blades
And wild fern leaf where placid waters lie
Beneath a tranquil lazy summer sky.
And don’t you love the smooth-fan poplar leaves
A-wavin’ in a silver summer breeze.
I ask these questions and I don’t know why.

Harlan Hubbard, Campbell County Hill Farm, 1933
Harlan Hubbard, Campbell County Hill Farm, 1933

Music Playlist:
Spring in Kentucky Hills – Dan Gilliam composer, Performed by Nathan Wilson (Jesse Stuart author)
Oh Don’t You See – Dan Gilliam composer, Performed by Nathan Wilson (Jesse Stuart author)
Itchin’ On A Photograph  – Grouplove
New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down – LCD Soundsystem
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
Fine Dining – Cube Head and Mr. Smiles

Natural Wonder

Image: Claire Sherman, Cave and Trees, 2011, oil on canvas, 96″ x 78″

By Mary Wallace

Born in Oberlin, OH, Claire Sherman began painting in high school, studying under a local artist and then went on to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. Recently Sherman has developed a style of landscape painting which employs the use of manipulation and abstraction to create her scenes. Often drawing from composite images of various environmental elements, she distorts the scene, forcing the viewer to make sense of the work. Her paintings push past the limits of the perceivable, natural environment and delve into a world broken down into its elemental forms. Sherman’s settings are often constructed by piecing together images of many different locations, thereby creating her own environment, rooted in reality and yet stepping into another world. Her work has represented not only the different seasons, but also a variety of geological locations. From a snow-laden forest to the dark, rocky interior of caves, to the sparse vegetation of the desert, her subject matter is immensely varied and yet her expressive style unites it all. She examines the basic elements of nature and promotes a sense of the pure wilderness; untouched and untamed by the work of humankind. One piece currently on display during The  7 Borders exhibit unites both the cave environment as well as the summer forest in full bloom. Cave and Trees (pictured above) is rendered from one of the many openings to the worlds longest cave system: Mammoth Cave, located near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Currently Mammoth Cave has been mapped at 346 miles long and has been in use for nearly 4,000 years since its discovery by early Native Americans. Although this cave system offers a vast interior, Sherman has chosen to represent its opening—as if one is coming out of a long journey through the cold underground, into a bright and inviting Kentucky forest.

C.C. Coyle and the Parables of America

In The Passing of Weary Souls (pictured above), 1921, a pair of black boots, set in stride, dominate the image. The boots are animated, but no person wears them. As though anyone might be walking in those shoes across the landscape, this painting is about a journey. Emerging from the storage of the collection of Berea College to the walls of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, C.C. Coyle’s paintings are a moral journey through American life as told by a self-taught Kentucky country man.

Coyle’s paintings tell the stories of America through the land, family, history, and imagination. In many paintings, Coyle depicts the quintessential scenes of the American landscape. The expertly composed Yosemite, Bridal Veil, Nevada, and Vernal Falls, 1935, depicts the four great falls of Yosemite National Park. He also painted the famed Mariposa giant sequoia tree of southern Yosemite and Red Rock Canyon of the Painted Desert. During the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, Americans gained access to and protected these national treasures through the establishment of National Parks. Coyle painted these scenes in person, and occasionally through photographs. His landscape paintings echo the words of famed environmental advocate John Muir (1838-1914), whose tireless work led to the protection of the Sierra Nevada, when he stated in Yosemite, 1912, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

The falls of Yosemite appear again in the grand painting entitled The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World, 1935. This painting best illustrates Coyle’s sense of narrative as parable. Like a moral story, the painting is an illustration of the American dream and the value of motherhood. Coyle provides a rich description of this painting in his diary, stating, “I am giving this picture to the public believing that every great man or woman had for their background the training of a good mother. It has been said that many of our great men owe their crown of glory to a good wife. That takes us right back to the mother again. This wife got her training from a good mother. Of course we must make some allowance for a fertile brain; even a fertile brain can be ruined if it does not get the proper training and support.” Thus, the good mother rests near a cabin, representing a schoolhouse, surrounded by her four children at various stages of need and independence. It is clear that her good deeds lead great men to the innovations of technology and the pages of history contained on the right side of the canvas, from aircrafts and railroads, to memorials and the White House. A sweeping epic of generations, the story unravels across the canvas, floating on dream-like clouds.

C.C. Coyle, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World, 1935.
C.C. Coyle, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World, 1935.

In all of these paintings, and in the words of Coyle’s diary, there is an earnesty to his call for moral fortitude and the American spirit. Although Coyle might be considered a folk artist because he was not traditionally trained, his deliberately planned, studied, carefully executed and sophisticated painting style reveals a body of work that is far more complex and cohesive than might be imagined for a naïve artist. While some research has been done on the biography and interpretation of his works, there is great potential to reveal a rich tapestry of American life.

       -Eileen Yanoviak has been selected by KMAC as the incoming University of Louisville Hite Art Institute Fellow for 2013-2014.

#whoiscccoyle

The life story of Carlos Cortez Coyle is so similar to the many Americans that lived during the Great Depression that it’s hardly newsworthy. His stories of financial and emotional trauma during this time are not what make him unique. But what does separate Coyle and arouses public attention are his 24 paintings that are on exhibit at KMAC.  This is just a small sampling of his 82 piece collection stored at Berea College in eastern Kentucky. Compositions consisting of Kentucky and California landscapes, humorous morality tales, mystical visions and most importantly a visual diary of a man concerned with leaving a lasting heritage. This special research exhibition is presented in order to lay the groundwork of including him among the names of Modern self-taught artists and to begin answering the question of Who Is C.C. Coyle?

Coyle spent the early part of his life in Dreyfus, Kentucky and in 1889 he briefly attended Berea Foundation School (now Berea College) where he was introduced to Appalachian arts and crafts. Some of his early drawings of birds, plumes, feathers and goddesses can be found in an old school diary that Berea College now possesses. Coyle left Berea before graduating for reasons unknown and moved to Florida, then Canada and eventually to San Francisco where in 1929, at the age of 60, Coyle took up oil painting and completed over a hundred works in just thirteen years.

In 1942, prompted by his failing health, Coyle paid to ship four crates from San Francisco to Berea College in Kentucky containing 47 paintings, 35 drawings and an illustrative diary of his work. He wrote a letter to the college explaining his shipment of works and the intention “to give my art to the land of my birth where I played and spent most of my youth.” Berea staff were unsure as to what to do with this unexpected collection and the works were left crated and put into storage where they remained with the occasional piece being pulled from time to time until 1960 when art professor Thomas Fern discovered the collection and held Coyle’s first solo exhibition. The exhibit received some local public recognition from the Louisville Courier Journal’s art editor William Mootz who wrote that Coyle “may some day rank as an important American primitive.” Berea Art Department staff found Coyle who at 88 was suffering from blindness and residing in Leesburg, FL. He wrote a letter of thanks to the school for showing his work in the gallery. Carlos Cortez Coyle died two years later in 1962. He was 90.

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft presents the work of C.C. Coyle to be viewed in the larger context of exceptional naïve artists and to recognize his place in Kentucky’s art history.

Image: Carlos Cortez Coyle, Age 65 and 22. 1936, oil on canvas, 44 x 36 in. Photo: Geoffrey Carr