Arts and Humanities Local News

Ozkaya’s ‘David’ Arrives at 21C

Just in time to welcome Derby guests, 21C Museum Hotel’s over-sized version of Michelangelo’s David was installed on the corner of Main and Seventh streets today. He rolled in on the back of a truck and stood up onto his 8-foot pedestal with the help of a crane. He stands three stories tall, and his gold paint gleams in the bright May sun.

“David (inspired by Michelangelo)” is the work of Turkish conceptual artist Serkan Ozkaya. It joins 21C’s collection and will be on long-term display outside of the downtown museum.

21C curator Alice Gray Stites says Ozkaya’s statue is more than a giant eye-catching replica of a masterpiece. It’s a source of public engagement with the ideas behind the art.

“He’s raising questions about how do we define value, economic value and artistic value, what is an authentic art experience, what is our relationship to our own cultural legacy, what is it going forward, and what is iconography?” says Stites.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Thinker Statue Secrets Revealed

The University of Louisville’s copy of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker recently underwent a thorough restoration. The process revealed many details about the statue’s secret life, including a history of vandalism and other previously undocumented details hidden under layers of old paint and debris.

The restoration team will speak Friday on a panel at the Public Art and the City Symposium organized by the university’s Center for Arts and Culture Partnerships.

“Rodin’s Thinker Then and Now” begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Ekstrom Library’s Chao Auditorium and will feature curator Bernard Barryte, UofL fine arts associate professor Christopher Fulton and chemistry professor Dick Wittebort, Thinker conservator Shelley Reisman Paine and laser metrics engineer Bill Mongon.

Arts and Humanities Arts and Humanities Blog In-Depth News

Phoenix Hill’s Public Art

Louisville’s Phoenix Hill neighborhood stretches east to west, from Baxter Avenue to Preston Street, and north to south from Main Street to Broadway. Like the mythological bird rising from the ashes, the neighborhood has undergone a series of transformations dating back to the 1970s and 80s, and Phoenix Hill is now the first Louisville neighborhood to incorporate a public art project. (Left: Beacon by Brooke White)

Creativity Rising is comprised of twelve unique works of art, scattered through out Phoenix Hill. The style and medium range from the abstract to the humorous, which curator Aron Conaway says was one consideration in picking the artists, “I tried to get some artists that show on Market Street. I tried to get some artists from right around the neighborhood. Sean is from Butchertown, so he’s right around the corner. I thought he would have a nice light-hearted approach to the project, where as some of the other artists may be a little bit more conceptual and heady. So it was a nice dynamic between the 12 artists.”

Conaway is referring to Sean Garrison, the former front-man for Louisville punk band Kinghorse. Garrison will tell you he was an unlikely candidate for a public art project. “It’s just kind of mind-blowing that I am capabale of creating something that can be put up in public,” says Garrison, “I didn’t know that was in me.”

Like many of the other artists, Garrison looked for a historic aspect of Phoenix Hill as the basis for his work. He found something that might be considered an extreme sport for the 19th century: The Six-Day Bike Races. These bike races were one aspect of a neighborhood that once boasted a 111-foot bar, bowling alleys and skating rinks. It was the entertainment district of Louisville, and the original East End. (Right: 6 Day Bike Races at Phoenix Brewery by Sean Garrison)

Doug Magee is the president of the Phoenix Hill Neighborhood Association, and says that the art seems to be having a positive effect on the neighborhood that endures its share of vandalism. But more than giving tag artists second-thought before spray painting the side of a building, Magee says the art has created dialogue between residents, businesses and artists.

And this all seems to be achieving what public art should do, according to Chris Radke, who has been co-chair of the Mayor’s Committee for Public Art, for the past year, “It’s really important for people to have a sense of place. And we all have to recognize how important one’s own environment is. It’s a quality of life, a sense of place…a sense of identity. And when you have public art that is really working, it causes dialogue.”

You can view more photos of the artwork at The Edit.

Audio MP3

Local News Next Louisville

Public Art Piece Chosen For New Arena

The Louisville Arena Authority has commissioned a large piece of public art that will hang in the new KFC Yum! Center.

An artist selection committee chose a proposal from Al Price of Phoenix.

Panel chair and Kentucky Arts Council Executive Director Lori Meadows says Price’s 200 foot sculpture was chosen from 74 applications. It will be installed on the Third Street side of the arena concourse.

“It hangs from the ceiling and will run the entire length of the corridor. It’s composed of fifty open metal panels that are all built from individual stainless steel tubes,” she told the authority at its Monday meeting.

Officials say 23 of the 74 proposals came from Kentucky artists, including 11 in Louisville.

The sculpture will cost just over $200,000.

Arts and Humanities Local News

New Albany Plans to Apply For Cultural District Designation of It's Downtown

Elizabeth Kramer

New Albany has been featuring more arts and culture in its downtown in recent years, and now it’s looking to have that area become a state-designated cultural district. The city officially indicated this week that it will apply next month to the Indiana Arts Commission to receive the designation.

City plan commission assistant director Scott Wood says the downtown already has many features and events that can help it in its application.

“New Albany’s bicentennial is in 2013 and we’ve already begun incorporating public art as part of the celebration of our bicentennial,” he says. “Downtown is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places; there’s some great architecture.”

The idea of state-designated cultural districts has been gaining ground since Maryland was the first state to start such a program in 2001. Kentucky is working on a pilot program and Indiana launched its program last year. Their features vary. Some programs provide tax incentives to businesses and nonprofits within districts. Others, like Indiana’s, provide tourism marketing support.

Wood says he thinks New Albany could use that kind of support.

“New Albany has an impressive mass of cultural facilities in its historic downtown that we thought really deserved to be considered for statewide cultural district certification,” he says. “That certification would be yet another tool in our toolbox that would help tourism downtown, the Carnegie Center for Art and History and many of the other facilities we have downtown as well as our private businesses.”

Cities with areas accepted into Indiana’s Cultural District Program do not receive funding at this time, but some policy makers think that could change if the economy improves.

New Albany is the only southern Indiana city this year to officially indicate its interest in being part of the state’s Cultural Districts Program. Earlier this year, the districts in Bloomington, Carmel and Lafayette received official state recognition.

PHOTOS: The New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater (top); Flood, a large-scale video projection onto the YMCA building of the Ohio River water by Valerie Sullivan Fuchs and part of the The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project (bottom).

Arts and Humanities Local News

Mayor to Sign Ordinance for Public Art Plan

This week Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson is expected to sign an ordinance (pdf) into law to set up the city’s public art plan (pdf). WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The council unanimously passed the ordinance last week that creates a nine-member commission on public art, which will include business, civic and government leaders to oversee the plan, and sets up a fund that can accept donations, grants and city funds.

Mary Lou Northern is a senior advisor to Mayor Abramson. She says now work begins on getting the commission together.

“We have asked people to submit names with background and contact information,” she says. “We will cull through that list and make recommendations to the mayor, which he will recommend to the council.”

She says the commission could be up and running by September.

Northern spent nearly two years working on this plan. She says it’s difficult to know when the first grants for public art projects will be given.

“We still are in a tough economic time,” she says, “so we don’t know at what point we’ll have enough money to give grants. But our hope is that within two years, we should be able to at least give out some smaller grants.”

She says the plan requires other changes in local laws, including adjusting the development code.

Metro Council President Tom Owen
says the project will benefit the city.

“The notion of needing to inventory and evaluate existing pieces of art is absolutely critical,” he says. “And local folks and visitors are enriched and informed by public art. All of this is in the right direction.”

Arts and Humanities Local News

Mayor Unveils Public Art Plan for Louisville

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson today unveiled a detailed master plan for public art in city. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports. (To listen to the audio of the announcement, click on “Listen to the Story.”)

The plan was developed through the mayor’s office with diverse groups of artists, educators, government officials and property developers. One main achievement was pinpointing a funding stream that does not create new taxes or fees.

The plan modifies a current law that that requires developers who have projects exceeding 100,000 square feet to contribute to use a percentage of their construction budget for public amenities.

Abramson says, under the plan, developers would have an alternative.

“Under the new plan, however, developers would have the option to instead contribute those dollars to a new public space art fund,” Abramson says.

The public art plan’s authors consulted with developers to create this option.

Chuck Kavanaugh is president of the Home Builders Association of Louisville.

“It was very easy to put this together and get back to our commercial council,” Kavanaugh says. “The commercial council at our association is really the largest retail office in industrial developers in town. These people embraced it. They’re very interested in it. They liked the option.”

The plan also includes policies for creating new public art and outlines how artists can participate.

Chris Radtke is co-chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art and worked on the plan.

“One of the innovate aspects of the plan is it moves the core of creative thinking for public projects off of the committee table and into the artist’s studio,” she says. “Artists not only from Louisville but anywhere in the world will be the ones that create ideas for proposals.”

Artists would work with community and non-profit groups to obtain funding.

Metro Council must approve the plan to establish a Commission on Public Art and set up the funding mechanism for projects. The city spent $50,000 to create the plan with New York-based Creative Time, which has worked on public art projects nationwide.


Audio of Mayor’s Announcement

Mayor Abramson Announces Effort to Create Public Art Plan (Sept. 2008)

Feature: Louisville Invests $50,000 for Public Art Master Plan (Sept. 2008)

Feature: An Inventory of Louisville’s Art and the Care It Needs (July 2009)

City Plans to Apply for New Federal Art-Related Grant (Jan. 2010)

Arts and Humanities Local News

City Plans to Apply for New Federal Art-Related Grant

Louisville plans to apply for a new funding program from the National Endowment for the Arts. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Last week, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman announced the agency will award a limited number of grants for up to $250,000 to cities for arts-related projects, including planning arts districts, promoting artists and using art to enhance parks and neighborhoods.

Landesman unveiled the grant program, which will come through the agency’s Mayors’ Institute on City Design, during the US Conference of Mayors’ recent meeting.

Louisville Metro government will pursue a grant, says Mayor Jerry Abramson’s spokesman, Chris Poynter.

“Louisville is definitely going to be looking at applying for these and determine what we need to be funded,” he says. “So, we have lots of things on the table that potentially could be good for this money.”

Poynter says the city could apply for funds related to the Louisville Loop, a trail planned to encircle the city and be part of the city’s parks.

“One of the key components of that that we think is important is when we design the Louisville Loop, we’re going to need bridges,” Poynter says. “And those bridges should just not be normal, standard bridges; they should be works of art that are done by local artists. We want art on the loop.”

Poynter also says the funds could be applied to the city’s public-art project that is being unveiled next month. Mayor Jerry Abramson announced in 2008 that the city was spending $50,000 to develop the plan.

Poynter says the city had originally wanted to unveil the plan last fall.

“It took us a little bit longer than we’d expected because we wanted to identify a funding stream — a way to physically fund public art in this city,” he says. “But we didn’t want to institute new fees or new taxes.”

Poynter says the city will identify that funding stream next month.


Arts and Humanities Local News

New Year Brings New Albany Bicentennial Art Project

While New Albany’s 2013 bicentennial is three years away, the Indiana city will be starting celebrating in the New Year with a public art project. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Julie Schweitzer is the director of the New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project which recently chose five regional artists who are making site-specific art work for historically significant sites in the city.

Sculptor Brad White is making a piece relating to the Underground Railroad, while Valerie Fuchs is creating a video about the 1937 flood that will be projected on the new YMCA building near a floodwall.

Schweitzer says the artists already have started their work.

“They are site specific and history specific to New Albany,” says Schweitzer, “so they have been working on those pieces and we’ve already had done some tests on sites. And then they’ll start installing those pieces in April.”

Schweitzer says the project’s Web page is following the making of the work and the places their work will be installed.

“There’s information on each of the artists and on each of the sites and the histories that correspond with those sites,” she says. “And there’s a place where you can send comments to me, which has been invaluable because I’ve found so many connections and histories.”

Schweitzer says an opening reception is in May for the currently chosen pieces as well as other events.

“Through the year, there’ll be events associated with those pieces,” she says. “So, there’ll be different kinds of walks and history talks and art talks that are associated with the project all year long.”

The project will have other art pieces installed over the next four years. It’s funded in part by the Carnegie Center for Art and History and the New Albany Urban Enterprise Association.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Louisville Arena Authority Looking to Commission Art

The Louisville Arena Authority is looking to install a large-scale piece of artwork in the new arena under construction at Second and Main streets. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The Arena Authority received 75 submissions after putting out a call out to artists in November about the opportunity to create artwork for the arena, noting an anticipated budget of at least $200,000. Now, it’s requesting that five of those artists submit specific proposals for a piece to be permanently installed on the west wall of the arena’s concourse. The authority has requested that it reflect Louisville as a city “on the move.”

Jim Host is chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority.

“I think the entire Authority feels strongly that the arena should have some form of art in it,” Host says. “And we felt this wall was the best, but it’ll all be subject to us getting it funded with private dollars. It will not be funded with any public dollars from the arena bond issue.”

So far, Host says this public art project lacks funding.

“There has been no money raised toward it at this point because we want to get a better idea of what the concept might look like so we can take it to a number of people who have expressed an interest in participating in sponsoring specific artwork,” he says.

Host says authority members have some ideas about impressions they want to see in the piece.

“Our intent is to have an artist’s rendering of various scenes of Louisville and Kentucky, particularly probably centered around the river, although this will all be part of the competition,” he says.

Host says he the authority plans to choose an artist by February and raise funds by April so the work can be installed for the arena’s opening scheduled for next November.