The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
For more than a year, members of the Lexington Art League have been excited about the prospect of a establishing a downtown venue in addition to its home base in Loudoun House, on the east end of Lexington.
That excitement spiked last week, when Art League leaders found out who their new neighbors are likely to be.
The Art League recently made public its plans to take over the third floor in the McAdams and Morford Building on the west corner of Main and Upper streets, catercorner from the old First National Building. On Tuesday, the league and everyone else learned that the First National Building will be converted into a 21c Museum Hotel. That effectively will create a contemporary art intersection in downtown Lexington, which currently does not have a major non-commercial visual arts venue.
Art League executive director Stephanie Harris says the decision to move into downtown was part of a five-year strategic plan whose final objective was “to establish a contemporary venue in the heart of downtown Lexington.”
A year and a half ago, Harris says, the Art League got to work on that objective and settled on the McAdams and Morford building.
“The fact that 21c is now going to be joining the downtown community really does change the dialogue completely,” Harris says. “It will be a huge catalyst for change of the cultural climate in our community, and I think it is exactly the thing our community has needed to take it to the next level.
“All of these arts organizations, visual arts organizations, have been doing really strong, really good work. But it was really time for us to get some information coming in from the outside. And what better resource than a first-class museum where we can now see things and have those resources right at our fingertips?”
The original 21c Hotel, in Louisville, has earned international acclaim for its innovative contemporary art museum and incorporation of art into all aspects of its design.
Far from seeing 21c as a competitor, Harris sees synergy, as does Mayor Jim Gray, a contemporary art aficionado and collector.
“This is one of those times when one-plus-one is more about calculus than math,” Gray said. “It adds to the promise of a more dynamic city creating jobs and economic opportunity.”
Harris says, “It’s the cluster theory and the idea of a cultural destination, so it’s not just one lone institution standing in the middle of the Cheapside Park area. It becomes, ‘What are the smaller galleries like in the area? What are the organizations that are just around the corner?’ Then people that come to stay in 21c have the opportunity to authentically engage with our visual arts community.”
If you want to play in the park this summer, particularly play a character such as Puck, Stanley or Elle Woods, then get thee to SummerFest 2012 auditions this weekend.
The annual July theater extravaganza in the Arboretum on Alumni Drive will be holding tryouts through the weekend for this year’s slate of shows:
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Adam Luckey, July 11-15
- A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Joe Ferrell, July 18-22
- Legally Blonde: The Musical, directed by Beth Kirchner, July 25-29
Auditions are 7-10 p.m. April 13 and 1-4 p.m. April 14 and 15 at the Schmidt Vocal Arts Center, across from the Singletary Center for the Arts on the University of Kentucky Campus.
Actors auditioning for Midsummer or Streetcar need to come with a 30-second Shakespearian, classical or contemporary monologue prepared. Legally Blonde auditioners don’t need to have anything prepared in advance as they will be shown everything they need to do to audition on site.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich