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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Art Envoy: The Louisville Visual Art Association


Art Envoy

The Louisville Visual Art Association

Review by Mary Margaret Sparks

Entire contents are copyright © 2012 Mary Margaret Sparks. All rights reserved.

Art Envoy is the last Louisville Visual Art Association (LVAA) exhibition at the Louisville Water Tower. The historic building on River Road has been home to the LVAA since the 1980s. LVAA will be moving downtown soon, and Art Envoy brings together the past and future of the oldest arts organization in Kentucky.

One of the first exhibitions at the Water Tower in 1981 was Showcase 25. This group show represented twenty-five local/regional artists in a variety of mediums including photography, sculpture, textiles and painting. Art Envoy brings together twenty of the original Showcase 25 artists paired with twenty local and emerging artists.  

Artist Pairings:
James S. Adams and Alice Stone Collins
Peter Bodnar III and Gibbs Rounsavall
Gayle Cerlan and Georgia Henkel
Ann S. Coates and Grace Nation
Michael Dwyer and Lora Gettelfinger
Leslie Friesen and Andrew Spalding
Kay Polson Grubola and Douglas Miller
Michael E. Kirk and Matthew Ronay
Julie Wirick and Andrew Cozzens
Cal Kowal and Anita Douthat
Robert Lockhart and Teresa Koester Mills
Fred DiFrenzi and Jonathan Swanz
Jacque Parsley and Kathleen Lolley
C.J. Pressma and Aron Conaway
Arturo Alonzo Sandoval and Christine Levitt
Albert E. Sperath and Daniel Pfalzgraf
Ted Wathen and Ross Gordon
Neisja Yenawine and Philip Yenawine

Blood Lines, Neisja & Philip Yenawine, 2012

Each pairing is exhibited together in the gallery. One of my favorite works in the show is the collaboration of mother and son Neisja and Philip Yenawine. Both artists have suffered trauma in the past years (a stroke and a broken spine; and although they have been continuing to produce art with one another, this piece is their first collaboration. Blood Lines features delicately carved wooden gingko leaves and is a beautiful representation of their relationship and shared experiences.

Looking Forward, steel, water, time, Andrew Cozzens

Another great partnership includes Julia Wirick with Andrew Cozzens. Wirick is an architect, and her works in the show include detailed site plans for the Falls of the Ohio and the Pecos Watershed Education Center. Andrew Cozzens’ sculpture is a large steel beam that interacts with moving water. The water comes up through holes in the beam, pools, then drips down the sides so it can come up again. Both of these artists have showcased work in their own style while still maintaining a direct correlation to one another. 

Save the Gorilla, Recycle-A Metaphor For…,
installation by Aron Conaway & C.J. Pressma.JPG

Being an activist, I was pleased to see work in the exhibition addressing an environmental and social issue. Save the Gorilla, Recycle: A Metaphor For… is an installation addressing the issues of cell phones and gorilla habitats. Knowing both artists, it’s evident that their individual styles are represented in the collaborative work. The piece makes a striking visual impact in the gallery by featuring a large metal gorilla, TV screen and pile of cell phones on the ground. Paired with a variety of audios including cell phone rings and what appears to be news broadcasts, this well-rounded installation hits on multiple senses while educating the viewer on the deterioration of the gorilla habitat by mining for minerals used in cellular telephones.

It is my view that it's not worth it to gather up the residual peckers,
neo-colors & oil pastel, Bob Lockhart & Teresa Koester Mills.

Other strong partnerships include Bob Lockhart with Teresa Koester Mills, Albert E. Sperath with Daniel Pfalzgraf, and Ann S. Coates with Grace Nation. I loved the collaborative drawings of Lockhart and Mills. Both artists sent drawings back and forth to create colorful, imaginative and whimsical works combining both of their own styles.  Ann S. Coates and Grace Nation both include handmade paper in their pieces. I was drawn to Nation’s creative use of the paper as the skin for her figures.

Although all of the work in the exhibition is good, the strongest pieces are those where the artists collaborated or connected in some way. I would have liked to see more collaboration between artists, especially since I thought some of the pairings were brilliantly assigned. It is interesting, though, to see two generations of artists exhibiting side by side. The show is well put together. Art Envoy is a great end to a long relationship between LVAA and the Louisville Water Tower and a fresh look at the future of visual art in Louisville.

Art Envoy will be on display through October 7.

Louisville Visual Art Association
3005 River Road, Louisville KY 40207
502-896-2146

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