Our first gallery talk about the”Potential in Everything” exhibition happened yesterday. Through a light dusting of falling snow, about 20 people braved the elements to hear R. Michael Wimmer and myself talk about our respective projects. I was delighted by the turnout and had a great time too. I am glad to have had this gallery opportunity because the river has been so high of late that getting to my usual spots at the Falls of the Ohio has been a challenge. Perhaps this is nature’s way of redirecting me?
It was a nice mixed ages group and a few local artists attended as well. People were very respectful and asked some interesting questions. Michael and I have very different processes, but the end results involve using something that has already functioned in the world and making something new from them. For me, that shift took many years of transition because my formal artistic training involved “staring down” a blank piece of paper or canvas and making something happen in a more traditional way. Although my old drawing professor might disagree with me about this…so much of the work I now do comes out of the conceptual concerns I first encountered through drawing.
When I get the chance to talk about art and creativity in general, I like to mention how important it is for all of us to cultivate that impulse to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Sadly, I hear far too often from too many people how they aren’t artistic or have any business being involved with creative acts and I know this to be untrue. I feel that part of my role is to get folks to expand their definitions of what is creative or aesthetically minded. Creativity is a precious, universal resource and available in everyone and may represent much of our hopes for a better future. We need to get people turned on to their own potentials instead of emphasizing the consumer in them. Too help illustrate this I brought my Homemade Ball Collection with me and placed it upon the pedestal that my “Flat-faced Cat with Bird” is sitting on. I found all these “balls” at the Falls and they are made from electrical tape, duct tape, cellophane tape, and aluminum foil. Rolling these waste materials into balls is not necessary for their disposal, however, I was struck by the artistic impulse I perceived in them by their anonymous makers to shape and form. There is obvious care in their making and rolling something into a cohesive ball has a satisfying side to it. After this sidebar and when the talk ended, I went outside to see how my “other” ball piece in the tulip poplar in front of the center was doing?
“La Belle Riviere” seemed to be in good shape. I was curious to see if any ice would be decorating it, but not this time. Ice can contribute a lot of weight which might take my nylon line beyond its limits. I look forward to spring’s arrival and how the appearance of this piece will change as the tree transforms. New Albany, Indiana is just a few miles downriver from Louisville. The town has an extensive riverfront and I took the opportunity to check it out in greater detail.
There is a large earthen berm that protects the New Albany from the adjacent Ohio River. A key feature of their riverfront is this structure used for concerts and special events.
One way to reach New Albany from Louisville is to cross the river over the Sherman Minton Bridge. Bridges in our area are a usual and often contentious topic of conversation. This one was closed down recently for much-needed repairs, but caused a headache for commuters while it was being fixed. Bridges are vital to river towns and a new one is currently being constructed near Louisville’s downtown. This new bridge was years in the planning and much of the controversy surrounding it involved where exactly would it cross the river and how would it tie into the existing interstate highway systems. The Ohio River has been high due to snow and rain in the upper part of the valley, but I walked down to the river’s edge and guess what I found?
Yes, it’s river polished Styrofoam. There’s goes my main art material floating towards the Gulf of Mexico. There are a couple other events associated with “The Potential of Everything” exhibit including a family workshop I will be leading on March 1. I have enough collected sticks and polystyrene that it will be fun making things with other people. I will also be giving a solo gallery talk on March 4. Michael will be doing a studio talk and welcoming people to visit his place on March 25. And, there will be a closing tea and cookies event at the Carnegie on the exhibit’s last day on April 5. So, if you are in the area and haven’t seen the show…there are other opportunities coming hopefully in beautiful weather! If you want to see my found homemade balls in more detail, I did a previous post about it entitled “The Need to Form: Handmade Balls from the Falls of the Ohio” and can be found in this blog’s search feature. Speaking of balls, I did find one other item by the river in New Albany and I’ll end this post with it. Stay warm out there!