Welcome Neighbors, Art from NuLu
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2013, Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
The Speed Museum recently opened a satellite location to serve as a public face and outreach during the three years that the primary location will be closed to the public. The simple brick building on East Market, adjacent to Flame Run Glass Studio’s original location, has been labeled “Local Speed” in large block letters in a mural painted on the side of the structure by Monica Mahoney, indicating a commitment to Louisville artists that is certainly evident in the first exhibit, a concise selection curated by Green Building Gallery Director Daniel Pfalzgraf.
It is a welcome initiative, since the venerable institution has suffered some in its reputation among local working artists in recent years. Both the choice of a space in the NuLu district, with its concentration of galleries and studios, and the focus on showcasing local artists are notable changes in the Speed dynamic. Whether this effort continues not only during the closure but after the high-priced expansion is completed in 2016 will be a question of interest to many notable local visual artists who have previously been critical of the museum.
Fake Painting No. 1 (the queen), Thaniel Ion Lee, 2013.
Dye sublimation on masonite.
For this first exhibit, there is care to include a range of media with vivid, impactful paintings from Gibbs Rounsavall and Bryce Hudson greeting you as you enter. A fanciful, pop-art Wax Fang music video from Jacob Heustis and Ryan Daly plays on a wall monitor, and three intriguingly fluid and sensuous dye sublimation “Fake Paintings” by Thaniel Ion Lee are positioned on the parallel wall. These last pieces were particularly striking in their contrast to the artist’s previous work, some of which is on exhibit down the street at Swanson Contemporary. The echo of Francis Bacon is unmistakable, with a raw, primitive “brushstroke” pushing the images into abstraction.
Count, Philip Rodriguez, 2012. Blown glass, porcelain, manganese dioxide.
The rear portion of the room was occupied by a variety of sculpture that provided some of the most provocative work. Philip Rodriguez’s two pieces were a stunning balance of fundamental form and delicacy. In “Are You Paranoid,” slender glass threads extend from a porcelain shape as would limbs from an insect – a construction of such fragility that one holds their breath for fear of upsetting the elements. The same is true of “Count,” in which a glass dome is pierced by glass needles in a virtuoso display of technique and precision.
Balance, Shohei Katayama, 2013. Photo – Sasha Perez.
Shohei Katayama is represented by a large latex-and-oil marker wall piece, “Uzu,” that uses patterns reminiscent of weather radar but suggestive of much more. In his second work included here, “Balance,” he contributes to the striking sculptural portion of the show with a circular arrangement of iron filings on a platform. It sits low to the floor so that we are pulled down to inspect it more closely, as the filings are subtly adjusted in a perpetual kinetic action by a rotating magnet beneath.
Two larger installations are by Andrew Cozzens and twin brothers Matthew and Mitchell Bradley. The former is an intriguing machine of PVC pipe depositing threads of hot adhesive into mounds on the floor, or at least we presume it was during the opening. The activity is not ongoing and only the static result greets the viewer on any given day, but it remains compelling. The Bradleys’ work is made up of foam noodles, string, neon strapping and other materials that exchange their inherent innocence for a black light containment of sinister connotations. Standing within this installation proves slightly disturbing yet highly seductive.
Other strong work is featured from sculptors Michael Ratterman and Chris Radtke, and photographs from Sarah Lyon and Letitia Quesenberry, which rounds out a power-packed show for the cozy space with an industrial personality. There is also a classroom space and a front desk with video monitor showing details of the expansion plans.
Welcome Neighbors, Art from NuLu
Thursday-Friday 5-8 p.m., Saturday 11-3 p.m.
Local Speed
822 East Market Street
Louisville, KY 40206