KMAC Museum announces the reopening date of June 4, 2016, after an extensive 9-month 3 million dollar renovation. There will be a celebratory ribbon cutting held on June 4 to reopen the historical location of 715 West Main Street.
“We invite the community to join us in celebrating a massive accomplishment in the Louisville art scene,” said Aldy Milliken, executive director and chief curator. “This new efficient design will help further KMAC’s presence as a downtown community center that connects people to art.”
The museum, celebrating its 35th anniversary, partnered with Christoff:Finio Architecture to remodel its historic Main Street space to accommodate additional public space with café and art making areas, streamlined exhibition areas and increased capacity for education programming.
Last year the museum saw 40,000 visitors and an additional 60,000 participants in educational programming. With the new design, KMAC hopes to double the number of visitors in its first year after renovation, with special admissions news coming soon.
This new design will help KMAC grow with downtown development and Museum Row expansion, as well as further KMAC’s commitment as a vital community art center that provides nationally recognized art exhibitions, art programming for 30,000 school-age children as well as artist talks, musical performances and poetry slams.
During the renovation, the museum has remained active through KMAC in the Community, a series of off-site public programming including events and public art exhibitions like ARTLIK Nulu 2016 and 2015 exhibition at the Louisville Free Public Library. This summer, KMAC programming will return to the museum space, including six weeks of summer camps, exhibition-related programs and family activities.
In the fall of 2014, The Future is Being Crafted: KMAC’s Capital Campaign began to raise funds to provide ongoing support of art education programs through endowment and enhance facility space to sustain museum growth. KMAC has received pledges of 3.3 million dollars toward the campaign to date.
As a reflection of successful programming and future exhibition planning, in 2015, KMAC Museum was awarded grants nationally from The Andy Warhol Foundation and Windgate Foundation, and locally from Gheens Foundation, James Graham Brown Foundation and Community Foundation of Southern Indiana.
KMAC Museum memberships will remain in effect and new memberships will continue to be available. New and continuing members will enjoy special discounts and free admission to select programs, performances and lectures.
More information about the museum’s opening schedule and exhibition will be announced in the coming month. Visit KMACmuseum.org for more information.
The first in a series of post from the Ramona Lindsey, Director of the KMAC Education Department.
What is art? Is art an object to be seen? Or is it a functional thing created with the finest workmanship? Can it be a combination of beauty and function? Or is it the sharing of ideas? This post does not answer this age old question. Instead it raises more questions.
KMAC recently closed Food Shelter Clothing, curated by Chief Curator and Executive Director Aldy Milliken. His show included Lee Mingwei’s The Mending Project. The installation asked art patrons to bring in items of clothing to be mended or repaired by an artist mender. In 2009, The Mending Project debuted at the Lombard-Freid Projects (New York, NY). The New York installation resulted in long lines and hundreds of mended garments.
While KMAC’s reiteration did not draw hundreds of participants, we did bring in a faithful group of community mending volunteers. Many members of the Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists (LAFTA) volunteered as KMAC artist menders. During their September meeting, Kathleen Loomis, a noted textile artist, led the group in a discussion of TheMending Project experience. Kathy asked me as KMAC’s Director of Education and fellow LAFTA member to share KMAC’s perspective of the project.
Kathy described Lee Mingwei’s installation as relational aesthetics. I prefer the more relatable term participatory art. Both terms refer to the artist’s ability to create an environment where the viewers or visitors become a part of the art through an interaction or performance. Mingwei’s Mending Project created a space where two strangers shared themselves through an action (mending) and conversation (storytelling). In participatory art, the artist does not force a particular outcome but desires spontaneous, organic responses. Kathy shared with LAFTA members her disappointment in the number of garments that were mended. Actually, KMAC hoped for greater community participation. But is quantity an accurate measure of effective art?
Also during the discussion, Kathy shared entries from a communal journal kept by KMAC artist menders in which they wrote their daily thoughts after their volunteer mending shifts. Kathy started by sharing several entries, each mimicking statements similar to “No mending today!” Then she read a question left by one of the menders which read, “There may not be any mending, but what IS happening here?” Finally, Kathy quoted her response: “I think we are building a community— not with people in torn pants, but among ourselves! If you’re not mending, would you add some stitches to my swatch and make collaborative art?”
Proudly, she showed us a beautiful piece of fabric carefully embroidered using the colorful thread Lee Mingwei selected for his installation.
Her readings compelled me to wonder, “What is effective art?” Does effective art challenge people to push beyond constraints? Does it prompt new questions? Does it provoke creativity? If the answer is yes, then I believe TheMending Project is an example of effective contemporary art. It allowed a community of textile artists using traditional hand stitching processes to engage with the community. The menders’ journal and Kathy’s collaborative art are a real life display of KMAC’s slogan, “Art is the big idea, craft is the process!” You can read more about Lee Mingwei’s art at http://www.leemingwei.com/.
By Hunter Kissel, Hite/KMAC Curatorial Fellow for Summer 2015
Hunter has completed his first year in graduate school pursing a dual Master in Public Administration/Master of Arts in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville; he is a native Louisvillian.
I received my undergraduate degree from Transylvania University in Studio Art last May and now am pursuing a Master degree in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville. The shift from amateur art-maker to aspiring exhibition producer has provided its share of challenges, namely in the language and art historical methods I now use. My personal appetite for participation in the broader arts community, however, has remained the same. The school year ended in the early weeks of May, and I began researching summer opportunities. I was soon offered a fellowship at KMAC.
As part of the Fellowship, I was given the chance to use KMAC’s permanent collection to display a selection of works in their Brown Forman Gallery. Director Aldy Milliken and Associate Curator Joey Yates often use the summer months to present works from the collection in a gallery setting, and this was sure to be a great chance to practice some of the curatorial methods I had been learning in school. KMAC begins planning their exhibitions as far as two years out in some cases, so completing the show in little over one month seemed like a tall order.
KMAC’s permanent collection contains works by acclaimed regional and national folk artists. Artists from Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia are heavily represented in the collection, and as a result themes of economic agriculture, religion, American identity, and wildlife are all very present. After browsing the catalogue of KMAC’s permanent collection and inspecting some of these artworks in person, I was able to narrow down my selection for the exhibition to about twenty pieces. I selected many of these Appalachian artists as well as some contemporary local artists working in glass, photography, or patchwork.
The selection process was not an easy one. While many of these artworks deserve to be shown, a number of constraints surfaced and I was unable to include objects I really admire. My conversations with Joey Yates were emphasized with the notion that “less is more.” The idea of a cluttered gallery made us uneasy, and subsequently space had to be compromised in order to include a diversity of artists as well as multiple works by the same artist when their breadth required it. Each object needed “room to breathe” (as the popular saying goes), and my selections were heavily influenced by the gallery space itself.
The final title of the exhibition was simple—Highlights from the Permanent Collection. There was no need to contextualize these works. The collection speaks for itself. The final display includes artists like Earnest Patton, one of the most renowned artists in KMAC’s collection, who carves human figures with precision and clean technique. His depiction of Adam and Eve is as topical as that of his mermaid or woman in a swimsuit. Minnie Adkins’ use of a fox motif translates fluidly from woodcarving to quilt, demonstrating the artist’s ability to execute in a variety of mediums. Carl McKenzie’s figures stand as anomalies, distanced from the comparable work produced by Patton, Denzil Goodpaster, and Junior Lewis. His splotched Lady Liberty and Red Cross Nurse are vibrant takes on popular subjects. Finally, Marvin Finn and his flock of familiar birds are at hand within KMAC’s collection.
The resulting exhibition advocates for the importance of collecting. Under Milliken and Yates, KMAC is transforming from an artist-represented gallery into an archival museum. KMAC’s current collection is a solid foundation for a more expansive holding of artworks. Highlights marks a checkpoint for an evolving institution.
Highlights from the Permanent Collection, curated by Hunter Kissel, will be on display in the Brown Forman Gallery at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft until mid-September. To see more from the exhibition, visit http://www.kmacmuseum.org.
KMAC ‘s Donors Circle brought a hale and hearty group of 14 to EXPO Chicago a week and a half ago. We spent our days cruising the contemporary art offerings out on the Navy Pier. In the afternoon, we enjoyed Kentucky hospitality in the form of tastings of Old Forester provided by Brown-Forman happening at the KMAC booth, which featured selections from recent museum exhibitions: Denise Burge, Matthew Ronay, Elijah Pierce and more.
Outside the art fair, we had the opportunity to visit some outstanding private collections including those of Paul and De Gray, Gary Metzner and Scott Johnson, Richard and Ellen Sandor, and Susan Goodman and Rod Lubeznik.
On Friday, September 19th, Richard and Ellen Sandor impressed us with their extensive body of photography and related objects (over 2,000 pieces from the 1840s to the present) and awed with their encyclopedic knowledge of the contexts in which their historical images were conceived. I especially admired a photo of poet Marianne Moore in her tricorn hat/George Washington getup. The couple’s “Outsider Café”features well-known naïve and intuitive artists Lee Godie, Martin Ramirez, Sharon Scott, and Bill Traylor.
On Friday night, we attended gallery openings at Kavi Gupta’s two spaces. I particularly enjoyed watching a documentary that Mickalene Thomas created in memory of her mother, who many will recognize as the principal subject of her work. The film plays continuously in a family room setting, complete with wood paneling, a sofa, and coffee table. That night, Kavi Gupta graciously included us in a party at his place, where we mingled with art stars like Jessica Stockholder. Kavi put a picture of Martha Slaughter and Henry Heuser on Instagram!
On Saturday morning, we ventured to the Gold Coast—where we took in magnificent panoramic views of Lake Michigan at the home of Susan Goodman and Rod Lubeznik. Our group took note of a ceramic portrait bust by Klara Kristalova and a felt piece (resembling a Matisse paper cut-out) by William J. O’Brien. In the bathroom sits a humorous multi-media sculpture by Tokyo-based artist Ken Kagami.
On our final morning in Chicago, we stopped at the warehouse studio of Tony Tasset (husband of well-known Chicago painter Judy Ledgerwood) who manipulates quintessential American imagery in bold colors. He chooses to work in a vernacular of existing genres to communicate with simple signs. His egalitarian, open system of meaning resembles a love letter to 70s super graphic art (such as Robert Indiana).
We had an absolute blast in Chicago. And I am now rested enough to say that I enthusiastically anticipate the next Donors’ Circle trip—to New York City in March! I hope you can join us.
This spring, we had the pleasure of working with Coleridge-Taylor Montessori, one of two Montessori’s in JCPS, as a part of our scholastic artist in residency program here at KMAC. We collaborated with CTM Principal Yvette Stockwell and PTA member Kate Kolb to create a custom residency package with 4th and 5th grade students. They expressed the vision to create something really memorable and impactful for the students. From the time that I walked into the school, I had my eye on the big, empty brick walls that framed the entrance of the lobby. I started researching collaborative clay mural techniques that worked well with elementary students and started sketching a “free form”mosaic approach, where hand-built circle shapes would make up the image. After consulting with the PTA and principal, we chose a design inspired by their school logo, of a world surrounded by student portraits, and the words “Coleridge-Taylor Montessori.”
Wall for Installation
Sketch of Design
Over 175 students in 4-5th grade created a mural piece and coil pot and glazed both. We started by learning about clay and discussing the process of ceramics. One class made coils on slabs, which formed all of the letters, another class made tile portraits, and five classes made the world pieces. We decided on circle shapes for the water and leaf shapes for the earth. Their art room, which was a communal space this year, was a dusty, happy mess (don’t worry, we cleaned it up!). Some students had never used clay before, and were fascinated with the way the “texture tools” (odds and ends ranging from beads, to buttons, to small plastic sea creatures) created interesting embellishments to their tiles.
KMAC Educator Liz Richter
I purchased a nice variety of beautiful blues and greens for the land and water to create some variety in the design, and delegated colors to each table of students so that the variety was consistent. Some students even created little extra texture shapes for us to use as filler. With the help from Kate from the PTA, we were able to complete our projects in three sessions. After the students had also made their coil pots and glazed them with their favorite colors, we packed up all the clay and headed back to the museum to fire them in our kilns. I promised the students that they would get their beloved pots back as soon as we could, and I heard excited plans like “Mine is going to be a pencil holder!” and “I’m giving mine to my mom!”
Firing the clay
Finished glazed clay tiles
Back at the museum, our education staff, volunteers and interns helped me sort, paint clear glaze, scrape and fire over 350 pieces. Our art handler, Ben Cook cut the large wooden pieces that would become the backing for the mural. Slowly but surely, the tiles came together to form what I had envisioned in my sketches. After delivering their pots to the school, we started gluing the mural pieces to the backing. I got excited seeing the earth shapes finally begin forming and could finally stop worrying about whether my mathematical planning was correct! After delivering the completed mural to the school, I went back to see it installed. Parents and students were coming in and out, and many stopped to see the new mural in its prime location.
“This amazing mural reflects our Coleridge-Taylor Montessori spirit of collaboration and individuality. Each piece was designed and created by an intermediate student. Thanks to our artist-in-residence and PTA parents for helping to make this possible!” -Principal Yvette Stockwell
Written by KMAC Donors’ Circle Member Merrily Orsini
Denise Mucci Furnish used to be my neighbor across the street. Before she was a known artist, she was an innate artist. Apparently born as such, she was encouraged by life’s experiences to make art whenever possible. I have a vague memory of meeting Denise, or at least seeing her work, as far back as 1970, when, in Lexington, I saw some cloth dolls she had made. Occasionally, these dolls still haunt my mind. They were ethereal dolls with little bound cloth bodies and round sock faces— beautiful dolls, and dolls that seemed to scream, “Let me out!”
It was a few years later, in 1979, that I ended up on Everett Avenue, across the street from the Furnishes. In 1980, Denise started attending the Louisville School of Art. Her quilts morphed from folded,piles on the top floor of her one time elegant and gabled three-story house, to hanging on the wall, as art. It was a bit later, in 1984 that I purchased my very first original piece of art, Salute to the Sun (Eclipse), from a real gallery. It was the first official piece of art that Denise ever sold. This quilt, made lovingly by Denise Mucci Furnish, still hangs proudly and emphatically, at the entrance to our home. I still enjoy it daily, if not hourly, and it is still as poignant as it was that first time when I was drawn to purchase it, even though it was well beyond my means at the time. However, that quilt is priceless when it comes to the enjoyment and the memories it evokes.
The years between 1980 and 1985 were some of the most interesting years as I watched an artist come into her own. The Mount St. Helens’s eruption in 1980 somehow consumed the artist across the street. There were many variations in her artistic obsession with Mount St. Helens. One of the most interesting, and, a variation of which I have now framed in my office for daily viewing, is making little volcanoes out of dryer lint. The dryer lint is screen filtered into a circular doughnut shape with a small hole in the middle. When dissected into fourths, it makes perfect little volcanoes. A housewife might see dryer lint as something to be cleaned from the filer and tossed, but not the artist. The artist sees opportunity. The artist sees possibility. The artist sees.
Note the color of the lint? It differs according to what is being dried—reds,colors, or denim. The texture also differs, and that is what the artist saw. Try tossing feathers in the dryer and see what happens (not to the poor unsuspecting clothes, but to the lint filter art fodder residue?) What about glitter? It is really amazing how much art can come from a common household dryer when seen through the eyes of the artist. And, those volcanic lint quilts and collages got better and better, more colorful, and more textured, until the eventual end of that dryer. And, for the artist? Another medium to explore with one exhausted.
A life making art. A life enjoying art. Are these two so far apart? I think they are. The artist has a special way of looking at life, interpreting it, finding ways to use common items or common visuals as art. That interpretation, of course, is not what the viewer, or the art collector understands, even when articulated succinctly by the artist. Because, as everyone knows, art is in the eye of the beholder. But the joy, sorrow, jubilation, and emotion are resident as well in the viewer of the art, and, it is this emotion that moves one to enjoy art, to buy art.
On Friday January 10, 2014 KMAC will be host to AUDIOOPTICS #2, the second in an ongoing series of events occurring throughout Louisville that explore the spaces between our auditory and visual experiences of the world. This installment of AUDIOOPTICS consists of three sets of audio / visual pairings from a diverse array of artists. On the program for Friday evening are the Chicago based sound art duo Coppice (Noé Cuéllar and Joseph Kramer) presenting visuals prepared by Coppice.
The duo has produced original compositions for stage, fixed media, and performed installation settings since 2009. Drawing from their expanding glossary of study, the duo is currently focused on live repertoire with custom instruments, prepared pump organ, and electronic processes.
The Louisville duo mAAs (Connor Bell and Tim Barnes) will play to a blueprint of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, the iconic monument to the westward expansion of the United States was built by Finnish American architect and designer Eero Saarinen, the subject of the current KMAC exhibition Eero Saarinen: Reputation for Innovation. When placed into this context Saarinen’s drawing takes on the quality of modern, experimental sheet music. It resembles a waveform, giving shape to the listener’s experience of the music.
Also performing is local musician, sound artist, and composer R Keenan Lawler with video by Louisville artist Mitchell Bradley. Bradley manipulates images and video from his trips through the outer limits of the city. He and his twin brother Matthew have also collaborated on a series of works that bring together overstocked toys from dollar stores and other items from the clutches of mass production. They have turned these materials into an unusual, yet playfully informed set of installations and sculptures that have been recently exhibited in shows at KMAC, The Speed Art Museum, and I.D.E.A.S. 40203. For over three decades Lawler has explored American Blues music, bluegrass, and rock all filtered through his extensive background in electro-acoustic improvisation. With an intensely focused technique utilizing western music tonalities Lawler works with masses of harmonic overtones and sustained textures using his trademark metal-bodied resonator guitar.
Bell and Barnes of mAAs sat in during the recent KMAC Hour on ArtFm Louisville to discuss the upcoming AUDIOOPTICS event, providing insight along the way into their creative drives and music making process. Connor Bell began the audiooptics series as a way to more closely examine the transferences that occur when image and sound makers are united. With the set goal of taking a more critical look at the interstices of musical creativity and visual art, these events are set at a distance from the production of typical synchronized music videos and more closely aligned with the intentions of artistic collaborations like the music and dance performances of John Cage and Merce Cunningham.
Beginning in the mid 1950’s Cage and Cunningham set out to dismantle the narrative structures of choreographed dance music and introduced the element of chance between the movements of the dancers and the actions of the musicians, creating a new space for the viewing of performance related artwork that was less about the demonstration of memorization and more concerned with the discovery of uncharted connections between artistic practices.
Barnes has had previous experience combining experimental film and chance music as part of the group Text of Light. Formed in 2001 the group first set out to perform improvised music to the works of Stan Brakhage and other filmmakers. Their express intent was to, “improvise (not ‘illustrate’) to films from the American Avante-Garde (50s-60s etc), an under-known period of American filmic poetics.” Members of the group also include Lee Ranaldo and Alan Licht (gtrs/devices), Christian Marclay and DJ Olive (turntables), William Hooker (drums/perc), and Ulrich Krieger (sax/electronics).
mAAs creates music using modular analog synthesizers. First developed in the early 1960’s this equipment revolutionized electronic music, allowing for greater ease and portability in combining, composing, performing, and manipulating electronically produced waveforms. Earlier methods for making similar music required bigger machines and a process known as tape splicing. This was used in an early canonical piece of electronic music, Poème électronique, for tape (1957-1958) composed by Edgard Varèse. As with the Gateway Arch and mAAs this was likewise conceived of as a companion piece to the work of an architectural icon. Varèse wrote the piece for the Le Corbusier designed Phillips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.
As you prepare your senses for the AUDIOOPTICS experience take with you this quote by art philosopher Susan K. Langer:
“The assignment of meanings [in music] is a shifting, kaleidoscopic play, probably below the threshold of consciousness, certainly outside the pale of discursive thinking. The imagination that responds to music is personal and associative and logical, tinged with affect, tinged with bodily rhythm, tinged with dream, butconcerned with a wealth of formulations for its wealth of wordless knowledge, its whole knowledge of emotional and organic experience, of vital impulse, balance, conflict, the ways of living and dying and feeling.”
― Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art
In November, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Donor’s Circle visited the magnificent art collection of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. Mayor Gray’s home is situated in the Gratz Park Historic District, one of the most beautiful areas of Lexington, Kentucky.
Lexington Artist Louis Zoellar Bickett offered us a tour through Mayor Gray’s well-appointed rooms, several of which feature Bickett’s assemblages and containers. In the entrance hall, we admired a large black-and-white piece entitled Welsh Oaks (#3) (1998) by Vancouver School photographer Rodney Graham.
Our group especially enjoyed becoming acquainted with the work of Lexington-area artist Mark Goodlett, who assembles ornate picture-boxes out of wadded paper while lying in bed.
Mayor Gray’s residence houses work by many world-renowned contemporary artists, such as Joseph Kosuth, Yinka Shonibare, Kara Walker, Richard Long, Vik Muniz , Claes Oldenburg, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Mapplethorpe, Gerhard Richter, and Fred Tomaselli. Bickett informed us that Mayor Gray regularly rotates pieces in the house with others from his vast collection.
Great favorites amongst this art loving group were two pieces by English artist and Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread. While viewers may be familiar with Whiteread’s plaster casts of vacant/negative spaces, the sculpture Untitled (Trafalgar Square Plinth) (1999) surprises with its use of resin to create a ghostly double.
Another of Whiteread’s works, “Switch” (1994), creates a more subtle, playful effect.
On that perfect fall day, the group ventured on to galleries around town. We are grateful to Mayor Gray and to Bickett for their hospitality. Please join us on a future trip!
KMAC Board Member photos courtesy of Jody Howard
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.
Monday’s show will be hosted by KMAC’s Director Aldy Milliken and Associate Curator Joey Yates and they’ll be discussing their recent trip to Italy for the 55th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale. Hear commentary on this major contemporary art exhibition. The works discussed on today’s show: