Art: KMAC gives a nod to its members

Artists are people, too. There are artists next door, down the block and in the next county. If you ever need to be reminded that artists surround you, these two exhibitions at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft will certainly help.

“Kentucky Biennial II: KMAC Artist Members’ Show” is on the first floor. Karen Gillenwater, curator of the Carnegie Center for Art and History, selected works by approximately 50 artists. Artists who are members hold a special place at KMAC, and this show is the second one to focus exclusively on their work.

Usually there are a couple works in an exhibition that catch my eye, pieces I circle back to examine again. This time it was “Eggsistlenshellism” by Mary Dennis Kannapell. Made of clay, seashells and glass, the large sculpture is a bust of a woman whose head is adorned with an arrangement of shells that resembles a combination of hair and crown. Completing the ensemble are starfish earrings and brooch.

Jennifer Zingg’s “Moth Mother” also amazed me. Painted in psychedelic green, blue and purple, I can’t get over the fact that the sculpture was made from gourds.

On the second floor is the larger show, “Moving Forward, Circling Back: Celebrating 50 Years of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.” With more than 100 artists, it features a wealth of talent from past and present Guild members. The curator is folk art expert Larry Hackley, who writes in the exhibition catalog, “When Louisville socialite Virginia Minish brought together the group of people who created the Guild, she included Kentucky’s art and political elite as well as people representing rural craft cooperatives and small community arts organizations. This egalitarian spirit has always been one of the Guild’s strong points, and its membership and the art that they create reflect this. With over 10,000 members since 1961, this exhibition is only a very small sampling of (the Guild’s) vast reservoir of talent.”

I’m not a musician, and I have been told I’m a terrible singer. That said, I didn’t know the dulcimer was Kentucky’s official instrument. But I can appreciate the artistic qualities Warren May puts into making his instruments. His “Double Dulcimer Rose & Brian” is a beautiful piece of sensuous sculpture that also makes a lovely sound. The wall text states that he works in traditional mountain construction to produce his Appalachia-style dulcimers, and he is well known for decorative sound hole designs. (“Rose & Brian” is adorned with hummingbirds.)

The works in this exhibition possess overwhelming technical skill and beauty. Other pieces that had me doing a spin-around: Rude Osolnik’s turned-wood bowls, ceramics by Amelia Stamps, Lynn Sweet’s architectural wood chest, Michelle Weston’s glass “Seahorse in Reeds,” and anything by Ron Isaacs in trompe l’oeil.

As part of the “Moving Forward, Circling Back” exhibition, there will be a panel discussion on the Kentucky Guild on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 6-8 p.m. Moderated by John Begley, the panelists are Lester Pross, the Kentucky Guild’s first president; curator Larry Hackley; and artists Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, Sarah Frederick and Marie Hochstrasser.

‘Moving Forward, Circling Back’ & ‘Kentucky Biennial II’
Through Oct. 22
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
715 W. Main St. • 589-0102