In JoAnne Triplett’s Aug. 13, 2014, LEO article “What Does Louisville’s Visual Arts Community Want?”, some of the respondents mentioned the desire for an Arts Annual or Biennial. When I read this, I laughed and shook my head. Why has this not happened? I feel some blame because I had the idea to do this five years ago and was “invited” to work on a project that sadly has now gone away, like so many other project ideas that never fully realized their potential.
Despite being invited, I declined to work on the other project because it didn’t fit what I saw as the right vision for an event of this type. To me, it lacked style and scale. It had no theme. For instance, photography is a medium not a theme. Sure galleries can all participate but other than medium, what ties the work together. How does it make a cohesive impression? Since this was already in process, I thought perhaps it might flourish, prove me wrong and become what Louisville artists desired in a destination event. It did not. I’m not sure I ever heard much about it after the first year.
Before the other festival, when my friend, artist Bryce Hudson and I conceived this idea, tentatively called: “Objektiv,” we invited several artists to a meeting at Hudson’s studio and did some preliminary discussion about what our vision was and how we could make this work in our community. We had a good turn out but sadly we lost momentum when it seemed that local galleries were involved in the other project.
Sometimes, the time is not right for ideas and they need to be on the shelf to foster their relevance. I think maybe now is a more appropriate and the idea is in tune with the current arts climate. But, Louisville has to think outside its borders. We are a town that loves ourselves to the point of narcissism, but that can cut us off from opportunities to share ideas, talent and experiences with our fellow arts communities both in the surrounding state and beyond.
Let me share the idea and then I’ll consider how Louisville could still form a real destination event. This may even take more than one article to fully explain the idea.
Here is my original text (edited for clarity) about Objektiv from emails sent to a few artist friends:
It would focus on contemporary works with local and regional galleries invited to participate. The Objektiv would also host a couple of private events to help raise money for printing and operating costs for the next Objektiv.
Objektiv would essentially be the name of the main event. With each Objektiv Annual (or Biennial), either the core administrative group or the galleries can decide (by vote) what their Objektiv would be named for the year. For example: Objektiv: Dance would focus on the art of movement which could include actual dance, kinetic art and other movement oriented works (photographs and paintings included). Galleries could participate in the core Objektiv or create one that complements the theme of the year.
Let me say, I don’t want to denigrate any attempts that have been made to create a major art festival/event in Louisville. That is not my intention. I support and applaud any effort to cultivate expansion in Louisville’s artistic community. The reason I felt Objektiv stood apart from those was that it provided access to people from all over the creative spectrum.
As a city with such rich visual and performing arts culture, like those found in cities much larger, we have the potential to create a destination event that could involve the participation of many arms of our creative community and not be limited to the visual. I’m thinking about a mix of the Prospect New Orleans and Performa models. Not to muddy the waters but to acknowledge our ability to access many forms of expression.
Going forward before part two of this discussion, who should be a part of the conversation to create such an event in Louisville? I’d love to work with a team of people willing to seek out those to support financially and assist with campaigns to create a real Objektiv in Louisville.
Louisville needs this. We have the right climate. Now we need a strong steering committee. I’m in. Et tu?
Part Two: What impact does an Art: Basel, Prospect or Performa have that a local arts festival may not and can we adapt those models?