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.”
According to an LAL news release, the space will be a satellite of the league’s primary location in the Loudoun House on Castlewood Drive. It is anticipated that the space would increase the league’s annual attendance to 85,000 people a year, enabling it to bring in a wider variety of artists and exhibits from around the world.
The fund-raiser is billed as the Everyone Campaign, teeing off on the league’s slogan, “Art that is for everyone.” Donations can be made at LAL website; by calling (859) 254.7024; or mailing checks, money orders or credit card information (Visa, Mastercard or Discover) to LAL @ Loudoun House, 209 Castlewood Dr., Lexington, Ky. 40505.
The Lexington Art League and Lexington Film League are shining a brighter spotlight on their exhibit Re:Play in its final week with a film screening on the courtyard of the Loudon House Thursday night.
The feature will be San Francisco-based filmmaker Craig Baldwin’s Mock Up on Mu (2008), described on the groups’ websites as, “A radical hybrid of spy, sci-fi, Western, and even horror genres.” The film mixes found film clips from pulp serials, industrial films and other genres mixed with new live action footage to tell the story of post-World War II subcultures such as, “rocket pioneers, alternative religions, and Beat lifestyles.”
Re:Play is an exhibit of 20 videos by 16 local and national film artists. In runs through Sunday at the Loudon House.
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
Dec27Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Arts administration, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Central Kentucky Arts News, Christmas music, Classical Music, Country music, Downtown Arts Center, Film, Horsemania, Kentucky Theatre, Laura Bell Bundy, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, Music, Musicals, Norton Center for the Arts, Opera, Secretariat, Singletary Center for the Arts, UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Allison Kaiser, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Alltech Fortnight Festival, Balagula Theatre, Blake Shelton, Debra Hoskins, Eric Seale, Gustavo Dudamel, Haiti, Institute 193, John Lithgow, La Bohème, Laura Bell Bundy, Lexington Art League, Lexington Chamber Chorale, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Marvin Hamlisch, Ouanamithe, Phillip March Jones, ProjectSEE Theartre, Rolling Stones, Scott Terrell, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Spotlight Lexington Festival, Stephanie Pevec, Steven A. Hoffman, The Chieftains, Thoroughbred Community Theatre, Tony Bennett, Trombone Shorty, U2, UK Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Lexington’s 2010 year in arts could not have been weirder if you took the city and plopped it in the middle of Florida. Between some major changes at area arts institutions and the unprecedented wave of local and national arts activity prompted by the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, it was a year unlike any we have had or will probably see again.
■ While we did not get U2 or the Rolling Stones as WEG organizers had originally hoped, the games did fill up theaters, and in many cases, theater seats during the two weeks and three weekends of the games. Topping the bill was the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the Norton Center for the Arts. It was a booking that was deemed impossible by New York agents and drew national attention, all made possible by the persistence of for Norton Center assistant managing director Debra Hoskins who smoothed the road with bourbon and chocolate.
The event itself was an unforgettable evening for the audience and a great experience for area musicians and others who got to interact with one of the world’s great orchestras and shining stars.
Other great performances brought in by the Games were an evening with Marvin Hamlisch and the UK Symphony Orchestra, which had a great fortnight playing for the opening ceremonies and a production of La Boheme as well; Blake Shelton, Trombone Shorty and Laura Bell Bundy at the Spotlight Lexington Festival downtown and performances by Tony Bennett, John Lithgow and the Chieftains.
There is talk of extending both the Spotlight and Alltech Fortnight festivals, which presented the bulk of the entertainment, into the future. But we probably won’t see this level of activity again unless the games come back.
The Games also brought a number of high profile art exhibits to the area including a retrospective of the horse in American art at the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky and the Gift from the Desert look at Arabian horses at the International Museum of the Horse.
■ Scott Terrell was hired as the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra’s new music director in 2009, but this is the year we really started to see his vision for the orchestra unfold, and its reverberations in the community. Unveiling the orchestra’s 2010-11 season, he showed he was willing to break traditions and initiate new collaborations. He presented Messiah is a smaller format than years past and brought groups including local school and college choirs into the Philharmonic fold for performances that broke the orchestral concert mold. He also instituted a new style of concert preview with the Kicked Back Classics event at the Downtown Arts Center in November.
The moves have not come without some friction, which change often produces. There was unhappiness over the Lexington Singers not being part of the Messiah this year, as Terrell wanted to go with a smaller chorus and the Singers did not want to downsize. Enter the Lexington Chamber Chorale as a new collaborator and the Singers presenting their own Messiah in a holiday arts season whose calendar was largely rewritten this year. Precipitated by the changes, the Singers are asserting themselves more as an entity in their own right, un-tethered to the Philharmonic calendar.
How all of this will settle remains to be seen. But it is clear this will be a new Philharmonic under Terrell’s baton.
The orchestra also got a new executive director as Allison Kaiser came over from the same post at the Lexington Art League and Stephanie Pevec took over that post.
■ This was the year without Actors Guild of Lexington. Long regarded as Lexington’s flagship theater for adult audiences, financial troubles and management departures in 2009 all but shuttered the company this year except for one production, a concert version of The Who’s Tommy at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom and the new Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater. That said, theater thrived in the area with first rate productions by the Lexington Children’s Theatre and area college and community groups and emergence of some new organizations such as ProjectSEE Theartre and productions out of the Thoroughbred Community Theatre in Midway. And there were successes such as Balagula Theatre’s strong showing in the Southeastern Theatre Conference Convention here in Lexington. Actors Guild has announced a lineup of shows for 2011 under the guidance of new artistic director Eric Seale, but the group will be joining an active theater scene.
Some other big stories of the year that is now almost done were:
■ Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts tapped Steven A. Hoffman as its new director, following the departure of longtime director George Foreman to the University of Georgia. With this month’s departure of assistant managing director Debra Hoskins, there has been a complete turnover in management at the Norton Center. This will be a story to watch in 2011.
■ Alltech launched a project sending University of Kentucky voice students to Ouanamithe, Haiti, to launch a music program and form a children’s choir. The choir came to Central Kentucky and made several appearances during the World Equestrian Games.
■ The Southeastern Theatre Conference, the nation’s largest regional theater convention, came to Lexington for the first time in more than 20 years, and by all accounts, it went wonderfully.
■ Secretariat brought some Hollywood glamour back to the Bluegrass, including a gala premier at the Kentucky Theatre attended by star Diane Lane and many others.
■ Lexington native Laura Bell Bundy launched a country music career with her Mercury Nashville debut Achin’ and Shakin’.
■ Horse Mania returned to the streets of Lexington, 10 years after the original edition in 2000.
■ Michael Tick was named the new dean of the University of Kentucky’s College of Fine Arts.
■ The Pioneer Playhouse in Danville suffered massive flooding during rainstorms in early May, but recovered and went on to a successful season thanks to an army of volunteers.
■ Phillip March Jones’ Institute 193 emerged as a major force in creating and presenting visual arts in Central Kentucky.
■ Among world premiers in Lexington this year were Aleks Merilo’s Blur in the Rear View and Bringing It Home: Voices of Student Veterans, by UK Theatre, Beth Kander’s See Jane Quit by Bluegrass Community and Technical College Theatre, Roger Zare’s Geometries by the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Frank X Walker’s I Dedicate This Ride at Lexington Children’s Theatre, and the regional premier of Brian Hampton’s The Jungle Fun Room by Studio Players.
Nov19Filed under: Arts administration, Central Kentucky Arts News, Downtown Arts Center, LexArts; Tagged as: Downtown Arts Center, Joe Cannon Artz, Kentucky Classical Theatre Conservatory, Leslie Beatty, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater, SummerFest, University of Kentucky
Joe Cannon Artz has been named the new general manager of the Downtown Arts Center.
Artz, 40, was the executive director of the Kentucky Classical Theatre Conservatory/SummerFest for the past two years after a two-year stint as president of its board. He holds a bachelor’s degree in theater and communications from the University of Kentucky and has worked extensively in theater and non-profit management, including more than 35 touring Broadway productions. When he returned to Lexington, he worked as the director of marketing and development for the Lexington Art League before working with KCTC.
In his new role, Artz will manage the Downtown Arts Center, including its black box theater, and other venues under LexArts’ management including the Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater in Beaumont.
Artz starts work at the DAC Monday.
Nov3Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Lexington Art League, Visual arts; Tagged as: Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center, Contemporary Dance Collective, Habitat for Humanity, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Ballet, Stephanie Pevec, The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, The British Are Coming
The first event Stephanie Pevec attended in Lexington after moving here from Wooster, Ohio, was the opening reception for the Lexington Art League’s Nude 2008 exhibit.
“We were used to 50 people at an opening being a big crowd,” says Pevec, who was the exhibitions and education director for the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster. “To see 300 to 400 people at that opening completely energized me, and I said, ‘I have to work with the Art League.’”
At the time, Pevec was starting to make connections in town, getting to know leaders at most Lexington arts groups in an effort to find a place for herself. One of the first leaders she contacted, and who she says was one of the first to call her back, was Art League director Allison Kaiser.
Now, less than three years later, Pevec is the new executive director at the Art League after Kaiser left to take the same post at the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.
“This is what I have been working for my whole professional life,” Pevec says, sitting in the kitchen of the Loudoun House as the galleries undergo the transition from the early fall KY.7 Biennial show to the Art Fever fund-raiser.
Allison Kaiser is off the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra’s beaten path.
Asked to pick a place to meet to talk about her new gig as executive director of the orchestra, Kaiser bypasses its offices, where she says her ear is glued to the phone, and the Phil’s traditional performance home, the Singletary Center for the Arts.
Kaiser is settled into one of the purple seats in the black box theater at the Downtown Arts Center.
“This is where we are instituting one of our new concepts, ‘Kicked-Back Classics,’” Kaiser says, referring to informal, conversational performances Nov. 18 and March 24 that will precede Philharmonic Classics concerts. “It will be a smaller event with the guest artists in an environment that is not as traditional as the Singletary Center.”
Change is to be expected. With Kaiser’s hiring earlier this year, there was a complete turnover in the orchestra’s top leadership in less than two years. In April 2009, it hired Scott Terrell to succeed George Zack as music director. Then earlier this year, after executive director Peter Kucirko announced his retirement, Kaiser was tapped to replace him.
In taking the post, she has accomplished a rare feat in Lexington arts, moving from the top management post at one group to the same position at another.
Since 2003, Kaiser was executive director of the Lexington Art League, widely credited with taking a struggling organization and turning it into one of the city’s most vibrant arts groups.
Kaiser did that, she says, by frequently employing ideas and inspiration from her years as development director for the New World Symphony in Miami.
Sep12Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Lexington Art League, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Musicals, Norton Center for the Arts, Opera, Singletary Center for the Arts, Studio Players, Theater, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: 2010-11 Arts Preview, Cathedral of Christ the King, Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, Cliff Jackson, Edward Gorey, Garden District, Gorey Stories, Gustavo Dudamel, Itzhak Perlman, KY.7 Biennial, Legally Blonde -- The Musical, Lexington Art League, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Messiah, Norton Center for the Arts, Porgy & Bess, Singletary Center for the Arts, Stephen Currens, Studio Players, Tennessee Williams, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Woodford Theatre, UK Opera Theatre, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, University of Kentucky Theatre, Vienna Philharmonic
The 2010-11Central Kentucky arts calendar is bolstered by an unprecedented slew of performances during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. But outside of that, it is a really strong and interesting year with marquee touring artists coming into town and local groups programming interesting and, in some cases, organization re-defining seasons.
It is, quite frankly, a hard year to pick a short list of intriguing programs, but I’ll give it a shot.
Make sure to check out our entire 2010-11arts preview in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader. Our arts and entertainment editor Scott Shive and staff news assistants have put many, many hours into assembling this comprehensive list of events, and while yes, it is available online, the arts preview is one of those things that is really best experienced in the print format.
KY.7 Biennial at the Lexington Art League at the Loudon House, through Oct. 23 – The Loudon House’s second exhibit of contemporary work by artists from Kentucky and its contiguous states has the potential to be one of our international visitors’ best looks at the art of our region.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at The Woodford Theatre, Sept. 17-Oct. 3 - Woodford Theatre has emerged as a premier community theatre in Central Kentucky, and this show is their chance to stage the regional premier of a recent Broadway hit.
Vienna Philharmonic with conductor Gustavo Dudamel at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, Sept. 25 - This is an extremely rare chance to see the Vienna Philharmonic anywhere in North America outside of New York, and along with that, we get to see the hottest star in classical music today. They call him “The Dude” for a reason.
Gorey Stories at the University of Kentucky Theatre, Oct. 7-17 – If there is another play that has made the journey from the Guignol Theatre stage to Broadway, I am not aware of it. This production of Stephen Currens’ take on cartoons of Edward Gorey, which premiered at UK in 1974 when Currens was a UK student, is part of UK’s celebration of 100 years of theater on campus.
Lexington Philharmonic‘s Messiah, Dec. 2 and 3 at the Cathedral of Christ the King - This minimalist performance with the Lexington Chamber Chorale is one of several intriguing things the Phil is doing in the first full-Scott Terrell season.
UK Opera Theatre‘s Porgy & Bess, Jan. 28-Feb. 6 at the Singletary Center for the Arts – Not only will you have a lovingly crafted rendition of an American icon, you will also see some brand new theater technology as UK Opera and UK’s VIS Center unveil new video backdrops for the show.
Itzhak Perlman with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra at the Singletary Center for the Arts, March 5 - Perlamn is the latest – and probably greatest – marquee soloist to come in and perform with the UK Symphony. Oh, BTW, they’re also playing with Marvin Hamlisch conducting, working with the National Symphony and going back to Carnegie Hall this season.
Tennessee Williams’ Garden District at Studio Players, March 17-April 3 – Two Williams classic short plays, Suddenly Last Summer and Something Unspoken are one of several Studio highlights.
Legally Blonde – The Musical at the Lexington Opera House, April 15-17 – It’s really hard to pick a favorite in the Broadway Live season that includes The Color Purple, Spring Awakening and Spamalot! But this is the show that launched Lexington’s Laura Bell Bundy to Broadway stardom. Laura’s not in this show, and it is not the next great American musical, but it will give you a good idea what she accomplished.
Cliff Jackson with the Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, May 1 - A big retirement event for UK’s iron man pianist who is a consummate artist and routinely pulls off feats such as playing around 50 arias in one afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Jul23Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, LexArts; Tagged as: Bluegrass Community Foundation, Boomslang, Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, Fund for The Arts, Governor's School for the Arts, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Kentucky Chinese American Association, KY Women Writers Conference, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Ballet Company, Lexington Chamber Chorale, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government, Lexington Opera Society, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Living Arts & Science Center, Music Institute of Lexington, Nexus: Toward New Land Art, Theatre of PossABILITIES, WRFL
LexArts recently announced that the 2010 Fund for the Arts campaign took in $1,003,000 and released its list of recipients of allocations and grants for the coming fiscal year.
The fund’s total exceeded the goal by $3,000 and included $450,000 from the Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government. Money raised by the campaign supports LexArts grants and allocations.
This was the first year for tiered allocation recipients, as LexArts split eligible organizations into two groups:
■ General Operating Support I, for not-for-profit arts organizations that are managed by paid full- time staff with budgeted expenses exceeding $250,000. The recipients are:
Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, $165,000
Lexington Children’s Theatre, $120,000
Living Arts & Science Center, $102,000
Lexington Art League, $62,000
■ General Operating Support II, for not-for-profit arts organizations managed by paid full- or part-time staff with budgeted expenses exceeding $50,000:
Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, $10,000
Lexington Singers, $9,000
Music Institute of Lexington, $5,000
■ LexArts Community Arts Grants, designated for specific projects and programs are:
Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, $7,500 for Kentucky Great Writers Series.
Kentucky Chinese American Association, $7,000 for Chinese New Year celebration 2011.
KY Women Writers Conference, $5,000 plus free use of the Downtown Arts Center for the Conference.
Lexington Ballet Company, $5,000 for new works in the 2010-2011 season.
Kentucky Ballet Theatre, $5,000 for 2010-2011 season.
Lexington Opera Society, $5,000 for Get Stuffed, a children’s opera that teaches healthy eating habits.
Lexington Chamber Chorale, $5,000 for additional community performances during its 20th season.
Governors School for The Arts, $2,500 for instrumental music program.
Theatre of PossABILITIES, $2,500 for a two-week theatre camp for children with ADHD, ODD and bipolar disorders.
Bluegrass Community Foundation, $2,500 for Legacy Trail Public Art Project.
WRFL, $2,500 for Boomslang, A celebration of Sound and Art.
Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, $5,000 for 2010-2011 concert series.
Nexus: Toward New Land Art, $2,000 for artist expenses with temporary installation for the Loudoun House in Castlewood Park.
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