I love to sing the praises of Louisville, especially its many strongly defined neighborhoods. Three of those neighborhoods in particular — Clifton, Crescent Hill and Clifton Heights — are home to art galleries, artist studios and the Frankfort Avenue Trolley (F.A.T.) Fridays.
Some of the artists in these areas are exhibiting together at Kaviar Forge & Gallery, where sculptor/blacksmith Craig Kaviar has operated his studio for more than 20 years. Kaviar had a notion about showcasing his neighbors’ work, and sculptor Paul Carney, who manages the Kaviar Gallery, is curating the show.
Carney spread the word through community newsletters, flyers and the tried and true word-of-mouth. There were minimal requirements: you needed to be an artist who lived in one of the three neighborhoods. And Carney was open to any medium. “I opened the net as wide as possible,” he said, and he ended up with the variety he wanted: paintings, collages, fiber, photography, ceramics, sculpture and stained glass.
“One of the nicest things, I thought, was who submitted,” he said. “(They were) across the board. Some were fresh out of school, some dedicated amateurs, some seasoned.” The artists’ duration of living in Clifton, Crescent Hill or Clifton Heights was just as varied. The resulting juried exhibition features 19 people from those neighborhoods.
Long-time pro Robert Halliday’s “Self Portrait” is a large-scale collage on canvas composed of squares cut from his old watercolor paintings. Up close it’s a blur. A person typically needs 15 feet to focus on an artwork; with this collage, you walk out of the gallery into the sculpture garden and peer through the window — a good 60 feet! I call this style “participative artistic recycling,” and I expect a path beaten in the grass very soon.
Another veteran artist, who just happened to work with Halliday years ago, is Steve Eilers. His acrylic on canvas painting styles are so different that Carney didn’t know they were from the same artist, he said. The three works in the show illustrate Eilers’ versatility: “The Harvest” resembles a 1930s New Deal painting, “Shara” is a realistic portrait of a young girl swimming in stylized water, while the “The Circus Queen” looks like a folk art painting of a woman on a trapeze.
Tonya Johnson and John Haywood are mid-career artists and teachers. Johnson’s “Pottery Series” is typical of her high-quality functional ceramics, consisting of golden brown and green tumblers (clay drinking containers) and bowls of varying sizes. Louisville residents and scenes are the subject matters of Haywood. “The Saint of Louisville Roadways” features a girl on a bike with her traveling companions, with Mellwood Avenue in the background.
The newcomers hold their own here. The first wood sculpture attempted by Jonah Havens, “Who Wears the Pants?,” is included. The obvious answer is “no one.” Sculpted from basswood on a bloodwood base, it consists of a nude man from the waist down.
Carney had met Laura Roth in her role as waitress at North End Café, but he didn’t realize she was an artist. This is her first show; her realistic, technically strong oil on panel paintings, “My Father and The White Devil” and “Susan,” tell me we’ll see more from this painter.
Artist receptions are part of both the Aug. 25 and Sept. 29 F.A.T. Fridays. If you live in the area, they’re prime chances to meet your artist-neighbors. And if you don’t, of course, there’s still value in getting to know new artists. We need more of these “artists in the neighborhood” exhibition get-togethers in Louisville Metro/Southern Indiana. Anyone up for the challenge?