The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Folks attending Saturday night’s “Magnetic Poetry Party” for the Lexington Tattoo Project learned about the latest artist to join the community art initiative. Lexington-based roots cellist Ben Sollee will write music for the video that will be the project’s finale and reveal the image formed by all the dots in the project’s tattoos.
Project co-founder and organizer Kremena Todorova says she was inspired to approach Sollee after seeing him perform a benefit concert for Institute 193 in December.
“He talked about his love for community and how much he loves Lexington,” Todorova says. “So, to me, it seemed obvious that here is this tremendous musician who loves community, who loves collaborating in Lexington.”
In the Tattoo Project, 247 area residents have had words and phrases from The _______ of the Universe, a Bianca Spriggs poem about Lexington, tattooed on their bodies. The tattoos are being photographed, and the pictures will be put together to reform the poem and reveal that secret image in a video that will likely premiere in the fall.
Sollee will write music for Spriggs’ poem.
“He pointed out something that should have been obvious to us, but wasn’t,” Todorova said of herself and co-organizer Kurt Gohde. “The form that Bianca used to write her poem, the contrapuntal, is a musical form. So Ben is thinking about composing the piece with the same kind of form.”
In the contrapuntal style, there are two parts to the work that can be read separately or together, and they will work either way. When Spriggs read the poem at Saturday’s event, she read each portion individually and then read them together.
“He is going to work with Bianca to understand how she hears the poem and the mood of the poem so that the music he composes will go along with that,” Todorova says.
Todorova and Gohde said the project will go quiet for a while as the photograph participants and prepare for the next public event, which will likely be a video shoot in the spring.
It’s Christmas morning, and you and the family have gathered around the tree to open presents.
Your youngest gets that certain something they have been dying for, and embraces it with the perfect “squeeeee!” expression.
And you got the shot with your smartphone. Excited, you want to share it with all your friends and family.
But you might want to think twice about sharing it on Instagram.
In the latest social media privacy and intellectual property kerfuffle, Instagram released new terms of service that have users up in arms because they effectively give it and parent company Facebook the right to use any images posted on the service in any way they please, including advertising.
The terms of service, set to be effective Jan. 16, say, “You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
The professional photography world has been particularly outraged by this as photographers are used to being compensated for their images, particularly when working with commercial interests. The idea that a major company could just grab their picture, even one shot with a cellphone camera, and sell with no remuneration it is anathema to them.
The move even drew the ire of Facebook founder and owner Mark Zuckerberg’s wedding photographer, Noah Kalina, who tweeted, “pro or not if a company wants to use your photos for advertising they need to TELL you and PAY you.”But even a lot of casual shooters would expect some compensation if their picture was out there making money for someone else. And then there’s the privacy issue. You snapped that picture for your private use, and to show to your friends — though yes, we have been told over and over that nothing on the Internet is truly private. To have it show up in an ad would feel creepy at best.
Since this firestorm broke, there has been a calm-yourself crowd making points from Instagram’s policy may not hold up in court, though presumably it has been crafted by lawyers, to “no one’s going to buy pictures of your food.”
The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky has announced the four photographers for the 2012-13 Robert C. May Photography Lecture Series and gallery exhibits, one of the museum’s signature events. This year’s artists are:
David Hilliard: His large, multipanel works explore relationships. Lecture Nov. 2, exhibit Oct. 5 to Nov. 11.
Lalla Essaydi: The photographer with Moroccan and Saudi Arabian roots explores the role of women in Middle Eastern culture. Lecture Nov. 16, exhibit Nov. 16 to Dec. 23.
Hank Willis Thomas: Using a commercial style, Thomas explores class and racial issues, particularly in sports. Lecture March 1, exhibit Feb. 8 to March 10.
Martha Rosler: Over four decades, Rosler has used found images to create striking commentaries on American culture. Lecture April 5, exhibit March 15 to April 21.
All lectures are at 4 p.m. in the Worsham Theater of the UK Student Center. Exhibitions are in The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky in the Singletary Center for the Arts, 405 Rose Street. Admission to the lectures and exhibitions is free.
As Lexington photographer Guy Mendes remembers him, Jonathan Williams was an artist with a “gift for engaging people in conversations and in interests. He wasn’t just someone who was passing through. He was genuinely interested in all manner of folks.”
Mendes, who often had the North Carolina-based artist stay at his home when Williams visited Lexington, sees similarities between Williams and Phillip March Jones, the founder of Institute 193, the modest but influential gallery on Limestone in downtown Lexington.
“Phillip reminds me of a young Jonathan Williams, with a big appetite for all different kinds of art, and people, and an interest in bringing them to light,” Mendes says.
Jones’ gallery is bringing light to Williams’ work with A Palpable Elysium, an exhibit of portraits of authors including Ezra Pound and Henry Miller, and numerous notable Kentuckians, including Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton, and writer Wendell Berry. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday (May 24, 2012).
The exhibit is drawn from the 2002 book of the same name, although Jones says the prints displayed are not original prints from Williams.
“We didn’t have access to the original photographs, which belong to Yale (University),” Jones says. “We didn’t ask because we don’t have climate control that fits their standards. So we basically did large-scale prints of some of the pieces, and then a slide show in the back. And the slide show sort of mimics the way Williams originally displayed the work.”
A slide show was how Mendes first encountered Williams, when Williams would set up a projector, show the images and expound upon the many people he met and knew, some famous and some not, but all interesting.
The Asheville, N.C., native studied at Black Mountain College there after stops at Princeton and Chicago’s Institute of Design. At Black Mountain, he founded the Jargon Society, a press that eventually published the words and images of many unknown and outsider artists and authors, some of whom became very well known, including Buckminster Fuller and Howard Finster. The imprint’s best-known and only really profitable book was Ernest Mickler’s White Trash Cooking, published in 1986 with recipes such as cooter pie and okra omelets.
Jargon’s signature was beautifully designed books. The New York Times’ obituary of Williams, who died in 2008, noted that artist Robert Rauschenberg was once engaged by Jargon to illustrate its publication of Joel Oppenheimer’s poem The Dancer.
Jargon’s latest publication is Jones’ Points of Departure, a book of Polaroid photographs of roadside memorials.
Williams is survived by his longtime partner, Thomas Meyer, who wrote the foreword to Jones’ book and worked with Institute 193 on the exhibit.
Williams was an artist in his own right, but one of his most valuable traits was as a catalyst for relationships, Mendes and Jones say.
“He was the straw that stirred the drink,” Mendes says. “He would come to town and introduce Guy Davenport to Gene Meatyard, and they became fast friends for years. He’d introduce the Berrys to Meatyard, or take them all to see Tom Merton.”
Davenport, who wrote the foreword to Williams’ book, was a Lexington writer and artist who died in 2005. Lexington optician Ralph Eugene Meatyard, who died in 1972, was an experimental photographer known for his work with masks.
Mendes had the dual experience of being Williams’ subject and photographing him.
“Jonathan was really excellent at getting people to relax and give of themselves,” says Mendes, whose picture is in the Palpable Elysium book. “He made portrait-making an occasion. It was a fun thing to do: Let’s make some portraits, stand over here, hold this, do that.
“But while it was a fun thing to do, there was also lovely composition, and he had a way to find the right gesture and elicit from them a memorable image.”
The Palpable Elysium book, Mendes says, is a great record of history and a visually compelling book.
The exhibit, Jones says, “dovetails nicely with what we do here at Institute 193, because we deal with publications and bringing to light emerging talents — artists, writers and musicians. That’s very much what the Jargon Society under Williams was.”
Mendes says, “A lot of artists work in a cave and don’t venture out that often and rarely champion another artists. But with Jonathan, part of his reason for living was to bring other artists to light who were obscure or, as he used to say, people that will never be in People magazine.”
Photographer Amy Stein is a city girl. Primarily, she has lived in Washington, D.C., and New York, where encounters between humans and wildlife usually involve squirrels.
So when she went to the country to work on a project about women and guns, she was surprised to hear about more serious encounters, including a girl seeing a bear on the other side of the chain-link fence that separated her home from the mountains.
“I just became fascinated with these stories and so I set out to re-create these stories,” Stein said by phone from Parsons The New School of Design in New York, where she teaches photography.
The project is Domesticated, on exhibit at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky as part of the Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series. She will talk about the project at 4 p.m. Friday in a free lecture at the UK Student Center’s Worsham Theatre.
Domesticated started at Dave Clark’s taxidermy shop in Matamoras, Pa., which became the setting for the series.
“He was kind of open-minded to working with an artist like myself,” Stein says. “Through spending time in his store and spending time in the town, I became very interested in the location of the town, which is between the Delaware River and a big mountain park. It’s a small town sort of sandwiched between two natural spaces.
“As I spent more time at Dave Clark’s local taxidermy shop, I was hearing more and more about these human-animal encounters that happened at night.”
She tried to wait out some naturally occurring images. For the most part, though, she quickly came to realize that she needed to stage the shots.
“We set out every weekend to create images related to specific stories,” Stein says of herself and her husband, John, who made regular trips from New York to Matamoras, about 80 miles northwest of the city.
It turned out to be a really good thing to know a taxidermist. Clark or his customers would lend Stein the animals that would be posed in a variety of looks: a wolf howling at a floodlight in a Target parking lot, a deer lounging in a greenhouse, that big black bear startling the little girl at her swimming pool.
“The bear’s face had this ridiculous expression, this open-mouth, aggressive expression,” Stein says of the animal, which eventually was photographed from behind. “It took me a while to realize I need to get behind the bear and show the form of the bear without showing the face because that will have more power and also camouflage this ridiculous expression.”
Stein says she usually had to take some time to talk with the people whom she asked to be in the photos, to help them understand what she was doing and that this wasn’t a “smile for the camera” type of portrait.
“One thing I would always do is bring examples of images that are already made, that are in the style of what I wanted to make,” Stein says. “I was lucky at this point that there were some images in Oprah magazine and some pretty big magazines that had published some of the images. That gives you immediate credibility in a sense.”
Some photographs were spontaneous, including Threat, which shows a little boy in the woods with a deer, and Fast Food, which depicts seagulls swooping in to eat a discarded burger and fries in a parking lot.
“It’s a lot easier for animals to eat our refuse and scraps, because they have calories and protein and they don’t have to hunt it,” Stein says.
Animals eating humans’ discards was one of several themes in the series, along with fences that people build to put up barriers between themselves and the natural world, even though the barriers don’t always hold.
Predator shows a little girl standing in a flowery pink dress at the open gate of her fence as a coyote walks menacingly by. Stein says that sometime later, she heard that the same family had trouble with a bear that wanted to hibernate under their house.
Stein says that despite such annoyances, she found that most of the people knew what they were getting into, living where they live.
“They’re lovely people who want to share the beauty and wonder of their surroundings,” Stein says.
And they have, through her lens.
Mark Klett didn’t go to college for photography. Taking pictures was a nice hobby, a thing to do on the side. But science — specifically geology — was how he expected to make his living.
Nearly four decades later, he comes to The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky as part of its Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series.
Klett might have been a little surprised that he ended up with a career in photography, but his subject matter isn’t surprising at all.
When he started graduate school in photography at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, N.Y., Klett says, “I didn’t know what the art of photography was about, what the field was all about, the current dialogues or the art of photography. I didn’t think much about landscape photography. I really thought it was boring.”
But in the summertime, he worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, which took him to Montana and Wyoming and got him thinking about landscapes.
What he came to understand was that landscape photography was not just about aiming his lens at a rock or a tree. It was choices about light and perspective that separated snapshots from photographs.
“I tell my students all the time that landscape photography would seem to be a sort of neutral subject, and that’s why I found it boring, initially — a rock and a tree and this and that and so what?,” Klett says. “But then I learned that photographs were actually the result of someone’s decision-making, and that they had a purpose, and that they were reflections of an opinion, and they were a little more like editorial statements. That’s when it got interesting to me.”
One of his first serious forays was essentially trying to see through the eyes and lenses of some of the original masters of landscape photography, notably Ansel Adams.
The project was to study iconic photos of the American West, in many cases figure out what they were and where they were taken, and replicate them.
Jul21Filed under: Balagula Theatre, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, dance, Film, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, Music, Opera, Photography, Theater, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: allocations, Balagula Theatre, Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Central Kentucky Concert Band, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, grants, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Kentucky Craft History and Education Association, Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Kremena Todorova, Kurt Gohde, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Bach Choir, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Living Arts and Science Center, The African American Forum, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre
LexArts has announced its recipients of general operating support and community arts grants.
The general operating support funds are unrestricted grants, generally to larger organizations in Lexington.
This year’s recipients are:
■ Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, $20,000
■ Lexington Art League, $62,000
■ Lexington Children’s Theatre, $120,000
■ Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, $165,000
■ Lexington Singers, $9,000
■ Living Arts and Science Center, $102,000
Community Arts Grants are given at two levels: Program grants to groups for operating support and specific endeavors and project grants to groups or individuals for specific projects.
Program grants go to:
■ Balagula Theatre Company, $8,600 – for its 2011-12 theater season
■ Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, $8,600 – for the Kentucky Great Writers Series, which brings 12 Kentucky authors to the center to work with writers
■ Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, $4,000 – for the 2011 festival
■ Kentucky Ballet Theatre, $8,400 – for the 2011-2012 season of performances
■ Kentucky Craft History and Education Association, $3,000 – for Stringed Instruments, The Art of the Luthier, a documentary film about stringed instrument-making in Kentucky
■ Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Inc., $7,500 – for the 2011 event
■ University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, $5,000 -for the Academy for Creative Excellence, which provides theater and music training for first through eight graders
Project grants go to:
■ The African American Forum, $1,500 – for The Smooth Jazz Fest
■ Artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, $2,500 – for 1000 Dolls, a project to create and install 1000 local-designed dolls along Limestone
■ Central Kentucky Concert Band, $1,750 – for the closing concert of the 2011-2012 season
■ Lexington Bach Choir, $1,000 – for the 2nd Annual Lexington Bach Choir Vocal Competition in which students age 30 or younger compete for cash and a solo opportunity with the Bach Choir
Jun4Filed under: dance, Downtown Arts Center, Film, Photography, Visual arts; Tagged as: Amy San Pedro, Casey Gregory, Contemporary Dance Collective, Downtown Arts Center, Emily Hagihara, Jason Thompson, Kurt Gohde, Marcel Cabrera, Mary Carothers, Matt Dooley, Robin Burke, Stephanie Pevec, Theo Edmonds, Lennon Michalski
When Stephanie Pevec arrived in Lexington, she saw a glaring hole in its arts offerings: modern dance.
It wasn’t a complete surprise to her; she says the form is much more prevalent in big cities.
“You go to Chicago, and you can find a modern class just about anywhere, and you can take an amazing class,” Pevec says. “One and a half to two hours of technique, which is mostly what you’ll find in a professional college program. But when you graduate with a performance degree, and you go to a city the size of Lexington, there isn’t an outlet. There isn’t a system set up to study technique in a way that you know you need to. So you find ways to adapt.”
Some dancers take hip-hop, yoga or other forms of dance and physical training, even adult ballet. Pevec and other modern dancers in the area have done all of those.
But she’s now involved in a much more overt form of adaptation. Pevec has formed the Contemporary Dance Collective, which will have its second performance Friday and Saturday at the Downtown Arts Center. She had worked on the project for the past couple of years while devoting herself to her day job as executive director of the Lexington Art League.
And the word dance is in the group’s name, but like Pevec’s life, the collective is a multidisciplinary presentation.
“It was the perfect compliment to this process of talking to artists that I know and respect about their work and saying, do you want to make something original together?” Pevec says. “So, there’s a variety of visual artists working on this concert. … Over the last four weeks, we’ve brought in our musician, Emily Hagihara, who plays with Chico Fellini and studied percussion at UK, and she’s been in with her percussion set. She wrote three pieces for this concert.
“Really, honestly, every work in this show is a combination of several artists working together.”
DANVILLE — Since opening the Great American Dollhouse Museum in 2008, Lori Kagan-Moore has had plenty of obvious groups of visitors: Girl Scout troupes, Red Hat clubs and doll-collecting enthusiasts. Last month, she welcomed a different sort of group. Bill Fortney, technical representative for Nikon Professional Services in the Southern United States, brought in a crew of photographers for a couple of hours of shooting in the museum. The group included Fortney’s friend and photo enthusiast, Ricky Skaggs.
Yes, the bluegrass musician and Cordell native.
“He had seen our website and thought it looked interesting,” Kagan-Moore said of Fortney. “He thought it would be perfect for some of the things they were working on.
“Before they all came, he came to preview the museum and blogged about it, really raved about it.”
Fortney says, “I took a look around and was amazed, and I knew from a photography standpoint, they would love it.”
The group, he said, was exploring things such as American history and macro photography, so the museum, which has a very theme-oriented layout, provided a great environment.
In visiting the museum, the photographers discovered one of the latest attractions for visitors to Danville, which already boasts venues such as the Norton Center for the Arts, the Pioneer Playhouse and events such as the Great American Brass Band Festival and the new Lawn Chair Film Festival.
Kagan-Moore said the museum started from her own fascination with miniatures, small items made for doll houses and similar things.
“I collected miniatures as a child and had enough to fill up one shabby doll house,” Kagan-Moore said. In recent years, she started gathering more and more items and exploring the idea of making them the basis for a museum.
“We wanted to do something that would add to the life and offerings of Danville,” said Kagan-Moore, whose husband is Centre College theater professor Patrick Kagan-Moore.
Searching for a location, Kagan-Moore found a 1939 building that was originally built by the Works Progress Administration as a National Guard Armory.
Part of my get together with Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova to talk about Discarded, which opens tonight at the L.O.T. Gallery, was taking a photo of them on a discarded chair they had found on Third Street. In one of the variations on the shot that ran in Weekender today, Kurt pulled out his camera to shoot a self-portrait of himself and Kremna. I asked Kurt if he could send me one of those pics, so here it is, the self-portrait and the portrait of the portrait – did I get that straight?
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