Take a stroll around downtown Lexington, Kentucky and you’ll notice the intricately preserved historic architecture, pedestrians flocking on every corner, sounds of local music, larger than life murals, and find no shortage of events at Keeneland and the Kentucky Horse Park. All of these one-of-a-kind characteristics combine to shape Lexington’s own vibrant, unique culture that extends to every corner of the city.
At the center of this rich, lively culture is the Lexington Art League, fostering its mission to “educate, engage, and enhance the community through visual art and the advancement of local artists” for over 50 years. Over the past half-century, LAL has hosted a colorful assortment of events and programs for the community centered on visual arts. One of these events, The Nude, was an annual exhibition that was favored by the people of Lexington. This year, LAL has revamped the exhibition and re-introduced it as Artist: Body, which is curated by Julien Robson, former curator of Contemporary Art at The Speed Museum in Louisville. Artist: Body still includes former elements of The Nude, but there are also exciting new additions to this exhibition. The exhibition officially opens to the public on February 26th; but for those who couldn’t wait that long, LAL hosted a private preview party on February 19th.
This cocktail-attire event was for artists, art lovers, and Lexington socialites alike. LAL offered an intimate setting at the historic Loudoun House with music provided by DJ LeeRoy and delicious appetizers and libations provided by one of our very own Lexington eateries. The official catering sponsor for this exhibition, Bella Notte, served tasty hors d’oeuvres to satisfy guests’ appetites while they quenched their thirst with wine and brews from West Sixth Brewery.
Throughout the night, guests explored the gallery and immersed themselves in the work of brilliant artists including Louis Zoellar Bickett, John Coplans, Julius Deutschbauer, Bryce Hudson, Thaniel Ion Lee, Gabriel Martinez, Cynthia Norton, Cindy Sherman, Xaviera Simmons, Kiki Smith, Annie Sprinkle, Hannah Wilke, and Sam Taylor Wood among others. Each piece featured in this exhibition showcases the artist’s own version of contemporary self-portraiture. Art connoisseurs discovered a connection to the pieces centered on the artists’ most vulnerable and intimate subject: their own bodies.
The exhibition officially opens to the public this Friday, February 26th, at the Loudoun House. The event is free to LAL members and $5 to non-members. The exhibition will run from February 27th until March 27th with gallery hours throughout the week Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-4pm, Fridays 10am-8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm-4pm.
Written by Caitlin Robinson, LAL intern, Eastern Kentucky University Recreation and Park Administration student
Julien Robson is an international curator with many years of experience and dedication to the arts. We are excited to have him on board with Artist: Body for the 2016 year.
Julien has 30 years of experience with curating and organizing events. After studying Fine Art at Bath Academy of Art in England, he worked in Britain and Austria before coming to the U.S. He was the curator of Contemporary Art at Louisville’s Speed Art Museum from 2000 to 2008. After this, he went on to be curator of contemporary art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 2008 and stayed until 2012. He is now an Independent Curator and serves as the director of INhouse Foundation, which is a venue for creative retreats and an organization dedicated to supporting extraordinary creative projects located in Louisville.
Julien is very passionate about art persisting as an important part of education. He wrote an article in the Huffington Post in 2013 about working with photographer Richard Ross on a project called “Juvenile in Justice”. This project focuses on youth incarceration. Julien followed Richard’s work and spoke to Rachel Zimmerman, Executive Director of InLiquid, about featuring it in Philadelphia. He wrote, “…we wanted to acknowledge that Philadelphia is a city that is taking a lead in trying to improve the conditions under which youth are detained.”
The exhibition is now available in many cities and collaborates with local agencies to provide expungement clinics and more.
This show was an important part of Julien’s passion for art to educate. He said, “Rachel and I are on a mission to articulate a serious case for the reinstatement of arts education in our public schools, and to argue against a trend that values standardization at the expense of the individual creative imagination.”
Artist: Body focuses on self-portraiture in contemporary art, which goes hand in hand with his passion for the individual creative imagination. For Artist: Body, Julien explored numerous private collections around the world to choose the unique works for this exhibition. His selections will be shown at the Opening Preview Party on February 19th, and the public opening on February 26th. The show will run from February 26th to March 27th.
Julien will host Fourth Friday: Curator Conversation on March 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m at the Loudoun House where he will discuss previous works and how he chose the specific pieces for the exhibition.
Artist: Body Event Schedule
Opening Preview Party, February 19, 6-10pm, Loudoun House
Fourth Friday Artist: Body Opening, February 26, 6-9pm, Loudoun House
Artist: Body Yoga with Lululemon, March 5, Loudoun House
Drawing Class, March 19, Loudoun House
Fourth Friday: Curator Conversation, March 25, 6-9pm, Loudoun House
February 27 - March 27
Tuesday - Thursday 10am-4pm
Saturday & Sunday 1pm-4pm
Written by Blair Johnson, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky Journalism student
A noted American painter, Martin Beck, lives, breathes, and creates right here in Lexington, KY. Since his entrance into the art world in 1992, Martin’s works have been displayed in major cities from Manhattan to Santa Monica, and there is grand reason for this. As William Zimmer from the New York Times put it, “Mr.Beck seems determined to take America's pulse at the end of the century, and it races.” Dan Bischoff from The Sunday Star Ledger, in reference to Martin Beck’s astounding works, declares that, “The artist is not afraid to paint at the top of his lungs.”
Martin Beck grew up just 20 blocks from an ecological disaster commonly referred to as the “Love Canal”, which took place in Niagara Falls, New York. This encounter reflects heavily in his works. His figures and livid colors seek to bring to the forefront of our minds a reminder of the fragility in our surroundings.
Martin’s bold ideological statements as well as his vivid imagery, figure, and form, make his works something quite powerful and memorable. Each image has a voice, a voice that demands to be heard.
Written by Joe Schwarz, LAL Contributing Writer