This weekend marks the beginning of Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program’s semi-annual residency. Alumni Albert DeGenova and Pamela Steele are in Louisville as part of the residency, and they joined WFPL’s Erin Keane and Rick Howlett on Friday’s Byline to talk about their work. DeGenova’s book, Postcards to Jack, is a series of poems about traveling and place, some of which are addressed to Jack Kerouac. Pamela Steele’s novel, Greasewood Creek, is a love story, but also a book about loss.
Acclaimed children’s book author Jacqueline Woodson will speak this week at Spalding University. Woodson is the award-winning author of more than 20 books for children and young adults, which have been honored by the Newbery, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King awards.
As the Diane M. Raab Distinguished Writer in Residence, Woodson headlines Spalding’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, which began Saturday and runs through this weekend. Woodson’s book “Hush” is the university’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing book in common for the spring semester. She will read from and discuss “Hush” and her other works during her talk Thursday in Spalding’s auditorium.
Friday afternoon on Byline, we wrapped up the hour with WFPL’s Arts & Humanities reporter Erin Keane talking about arts in the news and some local arts events to consider this weekend.
Literature fans will enjoy the Festival of Writing from Spalding University, as well as a writing collaboration between Silas House and Nela Vaswani.
Keane also discussed an equine sculpture donated to the Frazier Museum the week by William Shatner; the Samurai exhibit currently at the Frazier Museum; and a public appearance this evening at 21C Hotel by noted painter Ryan McGinness.
A new facility that will help adults pursue a college degree will open next month in west Louisville.
The Signature Partnership Education Center will be located in Parrish Hall on the Simmons College campus.
Simmons and three other Louisville-based institutions—-Spalding University, the University of Louisville, and Jefferson Community and Technical College—are partners in the effort.
U of L President James Ramsey says the center will offer help with testing, academic advising and getting tuition assistance.
“It’s often somewhat intimidating, somewhat uncertain, particularly when it comes to student financial aid. The application process for that can be sort of a scary process, a bureaucratic process).
The center is being launched with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.
Since 2008, artist and teacher Churchill Davenport has been working to get the Kentucky School of Art off the ground by raising funds, holding classes and having notable artists come to town for lectures. Now, its agreement with Spalding University will allow it to accept students through an accredited school and provide needed administration services.
Davenport says many art schools work under this kind of arrangement.
“There’s a number of model schools. There’s a Boston Museum school in Tufts (University),” he says. “There’s Tyler (School of Art) in Temple (University). There’s a lot of terrific art schools, but they’re connected with another school and they stay connected because it’s helpful for both schools.”
The school will have three faculty members teaching about 10 students the first year, but Davenport says he believes it will have a few thousand students in five to ten years.
Davenport wants to grow a school akin to an academy of art with its own kind of curriculum.
“Even when you take an English class, it’s related to art,” he says. “It’s like the core in the middle is the art. And so you take poetry, even a math course can be connected to the art. So it’s the art at the core of the school.”
Davenport sees the school helping grow Louisville.
“People don’t leave the city, they come into the city,” he says. “And businesses are starting to recognize that these art students and this creative thinking is very helpful for business as well as for students going into painting or drawing.”
Spalding University eliminated its degree for a bachelor of fine arts nearly eight years ago when financial circumstances prompted it to restructure. University officials did not return calls for comment.
Last month, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson released a plan for public art [pdf] in the city. It came after nearly 17 months of preparation and $50,000 spent for a consultant who worked with the community to develop it. The plan now goes before the Metro Council for approval, so the community is now looking at how it will work and its prospects.
Here, on Bashford Manor Lane in front of sprawling Wal-Mart parking lot, is some existing public art. Among four benches is a relief sculpture by artist Bob Lockhart. It shows three Kentucky Derby winners from the Bashford Manor Farms, which were torn down in the early 1970s. Some people living nearby say they’ve never seen anyone sit there. One is Anthony Johnson.
“I don’t know why these are out here,” Johnson tells me. “I guess if somebody’s walking or whatever they need to stop or something.”
Under the city’s land code, commercial developers with a project exceeding 100,000 square feet must set aside a percentage of their construction budget for public amenities — like benches and sculptures or even fountains and more. This spot is a result of that requirement.
But a new idea concerning that code came up during meetings between city officials, a public art consultant and developers. And the developers are happy with this idea: to have the option to use the money they are required to spend for such amenities and, instead, contribute it to a public art fund.
That agreement signified a potential benefit for developers and became a linchpin in Louisville’s efforts to formulate a public art plan with funding to preserve the city’s existing public art and help create and care for new art.
But the mayor’s office didn’t want to just satisfy developers. Officials also consulted with many other groups. Mary Lou Northern, the mayor’s senior advisor for cultural affairs, oversaw that process.
“There was an educators group. There was a group of historians. There was a group of artists,” she says.
So far, the result is a 70-page plan [pdf], with three pages dedicated to funding. The rest proposes the public and non-profit bodies that would underpin new public art. Metro Government would hire a public art administrator to work with a new commission. And that group would set up an independent non-profit organization to raise funds, commission art, and consider proposals from other -profits, like arts and neighborhood groups.
The proposed policies have elated local artists including Chris Radtke, who is co-chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art and worked on the plan. She says it would give artists a new avenue for their creative ideas — and pay them.
“The artists will come up with things you haven’t even thought of in terms of sites,” Radtke says. “And they’ll come up with projects not even on your radar. And so this allows that to happen. Artists from anywhere can look at Louisville, see a site and think of a project that is really out of their own mind, out of their own creative mind.”
And what would be the use of this public art? Reasons include civic pride, tourism and more. Joyce Ogden is an art professor at Spalding University. She’s worked on public art projects at city parks and the county jail.
“I think it helps us look at our history specifically in Louisville and the various communities and neighborhoods that we have here,” Ogden says.
“If the plan reflects Louisville and it’s something that is reflective of the city’s goals, how the city sees itself and how the community sees itself, and if it’s administered by a group of people responsive to what they plan articulates, then there shouldn’t be a whole heck of a lot of controversy,” Goldstein says.
“It really gives us an opportunity to use art to create dialogue and conversation and address issues,” she says.
And by next year, the city’s plans to start conversations on public art with a series of events where artists present their ideas about public art on the Louisville landscape.
A well-known figure in Louisville has been named president of Spalding University.
The school’s board of trustees announced Tuesday that Tori Murden McClure will take the helm of the private Catholic institution on July 1.
She’s been involved with Spalding for 11 years, first as a trustee, then as a vice-president.
“And so I know a great deal about the institution,” she said in an interview.” “I don’t know the faculty as well as I need to. There’s still a steep learning curve. But we’ve been doing great things for 200 years and I look forward to getting out in the community and telling that story.”
Current President Jo Ann Rooney announced earlier she would leave Spalding to return to her native New England.
McClure has a law degree from the University of Louisville and a Master of Divinity Degree from Harvard University.
In 1999 she became the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
The President of Spalding University says she’ll step aside at the end of the next school year. Jo Ann Rooney was named president of Spalding in 2002, when the school was operating on a three-and-a-half million dollar deficit.
She’s credited with turning the school around financially and turning the deficit into a surplus.
Board of Trustees Chairman Carl Thomas says they’re putting together a search committee to find her successor.
“What I’d like to think will happen is that now that the university is on sound financial footing, we can focus on other areas with a higher degree of emphasis,” he says.
Thomas says some of those goals specified by the search committee could be improving the campus or building enrollment. He says they’d like to have a successor named by the end of this year, for a six month transition period.