Tales of inspiration and creativity, behind-the-scenes glimpses at art-making, in-depth arts features, and narrative portraits of LAL artists.
John Rivers Coplans (1920-2003) is a renowned English artist who we are very excited to have featured in our exhibition Artist: Body.
Coplans settled in London after World War II, deciding to become an artist. He had taken his first photographs in 1941 while in Ethiopia, serving in the King’s African Rifles. When he returned to London in 1946, he began to study painting, and eleven years later in 1957, Coplans was first featured in New Visions Centre Gallery in London for his tachiste-influenced abstract paintings.
Coplans moved to the United States in 1960, taking a position teaching at the University of California-Berkeley. In 1962, he moved to New York to co-found the art periodical Artforum, providing coverage on the ever-growing West Coast art scene. He held this position until 1977 when he returned to his love of photography while serving as head of the Akron Art Museum in Ohio. In 1980, he began taking nude self-portraits using a timer but became more serious about the idea a few years later, appointing an assistant to help with the photographs.
Said Coplans about the photographs, “I don’t know how it happens, but when I pose for one of these photographs, I become immersed in the past...I am somewhere else, another person, or a woman in another life. At times, I’m in my youth.”
Coplans began taking these photographs regularly in 1984, large-scale black and white, candid Polaroids usually presented from the neck down. He took these pictures from around the age of 60 and onward, giving a poignant study of aging, and often pull from his abstract art background, posing in different and unique ways.
Coplans’ art has received widespread acclaim and has been featured in various exhibitions and literature around the world. Four of his silver gelatin print photographs are featured at the Loudoun House during this exhibition: Back With Arms Above (1984), Interlocking Fingers #12 (1999), Hands Spread on Knees (1985), and Hands With Buttocks (1987). Each of these photographs provide a look at the human body in an almost surreal way. In Back With Arms Above and Hands With Buttocks, he contorts his body in such a way that makes himself look more like an object than a human body, curling his fingers into a fist, hunching his shoulders over so his heads or arms aside from the parts above his head are not visible.
Coplans’ art and the rest of the exhibition’s art will be available for viewing during gallery hours at the Loudoun House on are Tuesday - Thursday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, Friday 10:00am - 8:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm through March 27.
Written by Sammy Petitte, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky CLD Student
Fourth Friday: Curator Discussion
LAL presents Fourth Friday: Curator Discussion with Julien Robson and special guest, Michael Lowe on Friday, March 25. This event will focus on Robson and Lowe’s personal experiences collecting artwork. Robson is the former curator of The Speed Art Museum and Lowe is the collector of fascinating works by artists including Cindy Sherman, Andres Serrano, Bob Stanley, Wiener Werkstätte, Art Nouveau Marcel Duchamp and Maurizio Cattelan.
It is an honor to have Lowe as a part of the discussion.
Right when you walk into Lowe’s Cincinnati home, guest Curator Julien Robson says, “a replica of the world’s smallest exhibition space, a miniature glass door, with brick surround, that lights up when you open it, is the first work of art you see.” It is the perfect introduction to the type of Conceptual artwork that has intrigued Lowe for the past twenty years.
His wife, Kim Klosterman, describes Lowe as “a veritable art bloodhound who, once he gets the scent of something, will not let go.” This tenacious spirit shows in the collection displayed throughout Lowe’s home. A 1964 painting of Mick Jagger by Bob Stanley hangs on the wall by the staircase which opens onto the main living space that is occupied by what Robson describes as “a variety of objects ranging from antiquities and Chinese objects to Wiener Werkstätte and Art Nouveau.”
In this space, Lowe displays many impressive works like a 1967 abstract painting by Mario Yrisarry and a set of miniature canvases by painter Gene Davis, but his favorite is the sculpture by John McCracken. Lowe loves artists who have the artistic integrity and nerve “to do the work and persist with it,” which is exactly what the Californian “Fetish Finish” artist achieved.
Lowe has always been a collector. Whether it was books about architecture or working as an antique dealer, he was constantly fascinated by artists’ multiples beginning in the 1980’s. His purchase of a small portfolio produced by William Copley led him to the discovery of Conceptual Art. S.M.S was only the beginning for Lowe. Robson says that after realizing the market for these works was inexpensive, he began to investigate, deal, sell and collect conceptual works, many of which are now held in his studio.
Lowe and his wife share a unique interest and collection of art of the 60’s and 70’s. While he has a warehouse where he displays work from this period, he is more concerned about getting a bigger space so he can enjoy his collection himself instead of creating a museum that would put him in the pubic eye.
We are very excited to have Lowe as a special guest and cannot wait to hear more about his personal collection.
The first hour of Fourth Friday will consist of the Curator Discussion and cocktails. After that, the evening will move into music by Nicholas Penn and light bites and a cash bar provided by Bella Notte.
Come out to experience this special Curator Discussion on March 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Loudoun House.
Written by Sheridan Fromm, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky ISC student
Francesca Woodman was beautiful and youthful with long, dark hair and a slim body. She was often the subject of her own artwork, but rather than focusing on her beauty, her photographs often elicit a haunting, somewhat unnerving mood. She created ghostly, blurred images with long exposure and her face was usually obscured or hidden in her photos. Her work commonly included symbols such as birds, mirrors, and skulls. Over the course of her life, Francesca created more than 800 prints.
Born to two artists, Francesca grew up surrounded by art, frequented art museums and was encouraged from a young age to foster her creativity. She spent time in many different parts of the country; born in Colorado, attended boarding school in Massachusetts, and later was accepted into the honors program at the Rhode Island School of Design. She also frequently traveled to Italy, spending summers there at her family home in Florence and studying abroad in Rome her junior year of college. It was in a small bookshop/gallery in Rome that Francesca held her first exhibition. After graduating, she spent time in Seattle and eventually moved back to the northeast to New York. During this time, the first inklings of severe depression began to consume Francesca and it was there that her life would eventually end.
After college, Francesca pursued a career in photography but success did not come easily. Her portfolios were continuously rejected and this, along with a failed relationship, presented struggles Francesca could not overcome. In fall of 1980, Francesca attempted to commit suicide but failed. Seeking help, she moved in with her parents in Manhattan and her condition seemed to improve. She applied for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts but was rejected. In January of 1981, Francesca committed suicide by jumping out of a loft window in East Side New York. Her father claimed her suicide was the result of severe depression and a series of rejections.
Although Francesca’s life ended at the age of 22, her work continues to receive acclaim over 30 years after her death. Her work has been featured in many major exhibitions across the United States from New York to Colorado to California and many places in between. Her work is also recognized internationally and has been displayed in numerous European countries. Her life has been chronicled in both print and film; the most notable being a full-length documentary directed by C. Scott Willis called The Woodmans.
Francesca’s work is remembered because of the many unique elements she incorporated into her photography. The frequent desolate settings and obscurity of her photos evoke disturbing feelings and fascination from viewers. Her work is often characterized by the theme of mystery, implying that photographs never tell the whole truth about the subject.
Artist: Body features two of Francesca’s pieces, Untitled, New York and Self Portrait (Providence, RI). Most of her photographs do not have specific titles, but rather are identified by the time and place they were taken. Francesca’s characteristic female subject and use of black and white film are present in both of these renowned photographs.
You can view Francesca’s work at the Loudoun House this Friday at Fourth Friday: Curatorial Conversation March 25th from 6pm-9 pm or during gallery hours Wednesday through Thursday 10am-4pm and Saturday through Sunday 1pm-4pm until March 27th.
Written by Caitlin Robinson, LAL intern, Eastern Kentucky University Recreation and Park Administration student
Louis Zoellar Bickett is a Kentucky native that was born in 1950 in Clark County, Kentucky. Being a conceptual artist and photographer, Bickett has moved around quite a bit throughout his life but now runs an archive and studio here in Lexington. Unlike many professional artists, Louis Bickett is self-taught. His creations purely come from the skills he has acquired on his own throughout time. He has had a working studio since 1969 with his artwork focusing on identity, the passage of time and death. These works are often very political in nature. The most important inspiration that Bickett has gathered in his travels around the world came from the work of Joseph Beuys and Annette Messager.
Not only has Louis Bickett had many of solo and group shows in the United States but has also collaborated in group shows in Japan, Russia and France. An early group show that is notable for him was titled AIDS: THE ARTIST RESPONDS. This took place at the Wexner Center for Art at Ohio State University. It was the first organized show on a United States university campus concerning that particular subject. His most recent work is entitled THE ARCHIVE. He is currently taking an inventory on all the things in his home and studio and making a photographic documentation of them. At the conclusion of the project, the goal is for people to be able to look at the work and be able to tell exactly what Louis Bickett possesses.
Louis Bickett also has work on display in Artist: Body exhibition. The three pieces of work on display all play off of the same idea and have the same title What I Read. These pieces depict a nude Bickett holding the Bible, the Torah and the Qur’an. The goal was to show that he is now aging and vulnerable. In this context the humor that pervaded an earlier series gives way to pathos, a deepening awareness of mortality that is made all the more poignant by the presence of the three religious books.
Don’t miss your chance to learn more about this great local artist. Come by the Lexington Art League to view his works and receive a better understanding of just who Louis Bickett is as an artist. Gallery Hours will be held from February 27th through March 27th. Tuesday through Thursday from 10am-4pm, Fridays from 10am-8pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm-4pm.
Written by Chase Bisig, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky ISC student
"What I Read" series by Louis Zoeller Bickett 2015 inkjet print Courtesy of the artist
To learn more about Louis, check out Creative Lexington's Snapshot Bio.
Inspired by the nature of the things we consume and discard, Baltimore, Maryland native Shinique Smith is an American visual artist known for her colorful painting, installation art and bound sculptures of textiles and clothing. Smith grew up with vast artistic training stemming from her mother who was a fashion designer and magazine editor. She studied at a public arts high school alongside many notable young talents. During this time, Smith was influenced by the graffiti scene. A few years later, in undergraduate school, Smith became intrigued by Japanese calligraphy and Abstraction. These various inspirations are the influences from which she withdraws “the graceful and spiritual qualities in written word and the everyday.”
After earning her BFA at Maryland Institute College of Art, Smith worked in the film industry and assisted on motion pictures. In 2000, Smith returned to her studies to earn a Master of Arts in Education degree from Tufts University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2003. That same year, Smith made the decision to move to New York and participated in The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s artist studio residency, where she began making sculpture.
Smith creates very unique sculptural works often using clothing, stuffed animals and other everyday materials like found objects by tying them together and combining these materials with expressive brushwork. She says, “It all begins with emotion, an expression and I allow myself to go on a journey in the making of each work, a journey of association between object and color, between lyrics and fabric, between the viewer and me.” Her sculptures recycle by using old, thrown-away clothing that would be shipped in bales to the Third World. For Artist: Body, Smith created a work from her own jeans, bundled and bound, as a stand-in for her body. The title, Soul Elsewhere, implies a sense of disembodiment and the feeling of displacement. The rope that is wrapped around the jeans and hung from the ceiling suggests the shadow of a lynch mob.
Shinique Smith has received a lot of recognition throughout the years. Her work has been exhibited at prestigious venues like The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC), MOMA/PS1 (New York), and many others.
Today, one can view her new mural at Elk Camp in Aspen for the Aspen Art Museum through October 2016. She has also contributed to Open Source, a citywide public arts exhibition curated by Pedro Alonso, by creating a performance space at a playground in Philadelphia. In addition to these new projects, one can view her permanent public installations at the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay in San Francisco, the Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot, New York MTA/Art in Transit and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Smith’s work, Soul Elsewhere, will be featured in Artist: Body, which will run from February 27th until March 27th. Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 10am-4pm, Friday from 10am-8pm, and Saturday & Sunday from 1pm-4pm.
Written by Sheridan Fromm, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky ISC student
Samantha Taylor-Johnson is an English filmmaker, photographer and visual artist born in Croydon, London. Previously known as Samantha Taylor-Wood, her first notable work came as being the director of the feature film, Nowhere Boy, in 2009. This was a film based on the childhood experiences of famous singer and songwriter, John Lennon. Since then, she has been very successful in all areas of the arts and is always working on something new to keep herself busy.
The exhibiting of Samantha Taylor-Johnson’s fine art photography began in the early 1990s. One of her first works was in collaboration with artist Henry Bond. This work, titled 26, featured Bond and Taylor-Johnson reprising the roles of Yoko Ono and John Lennon in a pastiche of the photo portrait that was earlier made by photographer Annie Leibovitz. This portrait was originally created just a few short hours before John Lennon was assassinated in 1980.
In 2002, Taylor-Johnson was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to make a video portrait of famous soccer player, David Beckham, in which she depicted him sleeping. She also is known for her work entitled “Crying Men” which she produced the same year. This was a piece that featured many Hollywood stars crying. It included big names such as Robin Williams, Sean Penn, Laurence Fishbourne and Paul Newman.
The most recent works by Samantha Taylor-Johnson have come in the past two years. In 2014, she created a photographic exhibition entitled “Second Floor.” It was a series of 34 photographs that captured the private rooms of CoCo Chanel at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris. Perhaps her most notable work came in February of 2015. Taylor-Johnson was the director of the Fifty Shades of Grey film which has become very popular since its release in 2015.
Samantha Taylor-Johnson also has a self-portrait piece on display in the Lexington Art League's Artist: Body exhibition. In this self-potrait, the artist was trussed up by a bondage expert and hung from the ceiling of her studio. Through extensive use of Photoshop the ropes and pulleys were erased, leaving an image depicting a moment of absolute release and freedom. Exploring weight and gravity, Self Portrait Suspended IV expresses effortless grace without a hint of the pain such contortions would elicit.
Come check out one of Samantha Taylor-Johnson’s most famous self-portrait pieces at the Lexington Art League’s Loudoun House during gallery hours throughout the next month. Gallary Hours will be held from February 27th through March 27th. Tuesday-Thursday 10am-4pm, Fridays 10am-8pm and Saturdays/Sundays 1pm-4pm.
Written by Chase Bisig, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky ISC student
Self Portrait Suspended IV, 2004, Chromogenic print, Collection of Laura Lee Brown & Steve Wilson, 21c Museum Hotel
Martha Wilson, a Pennsylvania native, is an American feminist performance artist and the founding director of Franklin Furnace art organization. After graduating from Wilmington College in Ohio, Wilson did graduate work at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the early 1970’s where she began to create photographic and video works. Wilson, being a feminist artist, has dedicated her artistic work to creating original videos and photo/text platforms that explore female subjectivity and challenge societal norms by using costume transformations and role-playing. In 1974, Wilson moved to New York City where she gained attention for her controversial performances, costumes, characters and works. She has been there ever since.
In order to challenge the established normality of performance, artwork and books, Wilson founded Franklin Furnace in 1976. Since then, Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. is on a mission to make the world safe for avant-garde art by providing an artist-run space that focuses on the exploration and promotion of artists’ books and periodicals, installation art, and video and performance art.
Wilson investigates physical identity and gender roles by elaborating on assumptions of numerous identities and flaunting her idea of beauty and sexuality. Featured in Artist: Body, Wilson’s work, Before and After, compares a photograph of her body from 1974 and a current photograph. By displaying the two side-by-side, she reminds her audience of what will change in the future, the inevitable. In today’s culture, women are taught to remain flawless as in youth, but Wilson’s work challenges this view by portraying the reality of a woman’s body as she changes.
In addition to her photographic and video works, Martha Wilson founded and created an all-female vocal performing artists group called DISBAND. The band, comprised of 5 women artists who can’t play any instruments, impersonated various political figures. DISBAND was based in New York City from 1978 to 1982, but made a comeback appearance in 2008 when they performed at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center as a part of “WACK! Art and Feminist Revolution” in Los Angeles.
Admired for her solo artistic efforts, Wilson has won many awards and fellowships throughout the years. She is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. In addition to these fellowships, she won an Obie Award and a Bessie Award for commitment to artists’ freedom of expression. In 2011, Wilson joined P.P.O.W Gallery in New York where she launched a solo exhibition called, “I have become my own worst fear.” Since then, she has been featured in many other exhibitions through P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.
Today, Wilson’s work, “...has been seen to contribute significantly to what would become feminism's most enduring preoccupations: the investigation of identity and embodied subjectivity.” -Jane Wark
Before and After will be featured in Artist: Body, which 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 Sheridan Fromm, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky ISC student
It is greatly emphasized in the yoga community that yoga is for everyone. There is no specific body type, ability, or amount of experience that creates an ideal yogi. Instead, yoga is focused on loving your body and using it to the best of your ability to grow in self-awareness and health as you practice. Very similar to this is our belief here at LAL that art is for everyone. In particular, the Artist: Body exhibition taking place now until March 27th at LAL correlates significantly with the essence of yoga. In Artist: Body, artists such as Annie Sprinkle, Louis Zoeller Bickett, John Coplans, Thaniel Ion Lee, Mare Veccaro, Martha Wilson and many others featured in this exhibition use their bodies as a medium to create their work. The artists take ownership of their body and any so-called imperfections or limitations are transformed into a striking subject through which the artists express themselves and share their stories. In the same way, yogis take ownership of their bodies by not judging, competing, or expecting certain outcomes-just listening to their bodies and being in the present moment. Even beginner artists can create meaningful work using their own self as the subject just as beginner yogis can find empowerment even in their first attempt.
To demonstrate these similarities, LAL is hosting a complimentary yoga class in partnership with lululemon at the Loudoun House this Saturday, March 5th from 10am-12pm. The class will be instructed by lululemon’s own AnneDean Dotson, Brooke Anderson, and Delia Gibbs and will take place among the celebrated works of art that are featured in Artist: Body.
Lululemon is a company that specializes in athletic apparel, founded in Vancouver in 1998. What sets lululemon apart from other athletic stores is its strong ties to the community. Lululemon’s mission is to create components for people to live longer, healthier, fun lives. They foster their mission through events such as self defense classes, goal setting workshops, and complimentary yoga classes, both in-store and in the community. We are excited to partner with lululemon to bring the public this exciting event that connects the yoga community with the visual arts community. Please come join us for a fun morning with fellow visual art and yoga lovers. You don’t have to be an art connoisseur or a yoga expert- come as you are with an open mind ready to take ownership of your body and how you represent it.
This complimentary yoga class takes place on Saturday, March 5th at 10am. RSVP at https://lexington-art-league-yoga.eventbrite.ca/.
Written by Caitlin Robinson, LAL intern, Eastern Kentucky University Recreation and Park Administration student.
Public Gallery Hours
Saturday 12pm - 5pm
Viewings also available by appointment
The Loudoun House
209 Castlewood Dr.
Lexington, Ky. 40505
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All Lexington Art League programs are made possible through the generous support of LexArts. LexArts allocation of $50,000 represents the largest single donation to the operations of the Lexington Art League.
The Kentucky Arts Council, a state arts agency, provides operating support to the Lexington Art League with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by Lexington Parks & Recreation.