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.
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
Sheldon Tapley is a popular artist that is best known nationally for his still-life paintings. After being born in Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1959, Tapley spent most of his childhood being raised in Europe before moving to North America. He attended college and got his bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Shortly after graduating, Sheldon Tapley attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he would receive his Masters in Fine Arts degree. In 1983, he received a job opportunity from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky where he is still a professor today.
While maintaining a teaching position, Sheldon Tapley has never lost focus on his true passion which is being an artist. Before finding his love of realism, Tapley worked in the areas of abstraction and also being a landscapist. Nowadays, his art depicts familiar objects in lively, yet complex compositions. His work has received notable awards such as the Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council in 1998 and also the Martha & Merrit deJong Memorial Artist-in-Residence Award presented to him in 2004 by the Evansville Museum in Indiana. According to an article written by Bill Creevy for the American Artist magazine, “Tapley masterfully blends the discipline of a hard-earned classical technique with a vision that is thoroughly modern and personal.”
Most of Sheldon Tapley’s time outside of the studio these days is devoted to the teaching of his students at Centre College. He often assists his students by working alongside of them, painting or drawing from a figure. In the past couple of years, the figure has become a more important subject in his work. “Working with students and seeing things through their eyes keeps drawing fresh for me,” says Tapley.
To learn more, come join the Lexington Art League on Friday, January 29th, as we host Sheldon Tapley at our event: A Figure Study. Not only will his pieces be on display but he will also be in attendance to give a painting demonstration to the attendees.
Written by Chase Bisig, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky ISC student
At Artist Potluck, artists of all ages will come together to share ideas and fellowship over a community-centered meal. Just bring a friend, your creative mind, and your favorite dish!
The Loudoun House will serve as a casual gathering place for artists in the area to come together. The beauty of this event is that everyone will learn new ideas. Young artists will learn about the classic styles and techniques from older, more experienced artists while the older artists may pick up tips on how to use social media from the younger artists.
Psychologist Rollo May once said, “Communication leads to community. That is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.” The exchange of ideas and creativity will fill the air as local artists get acquainted with one another. This is a great way to network and learn how to market your art if you are a new or upcoming artist.
During the second hour of the event, attendees will experience the musical sounds of Will Solomon. Will is a Lexington artist that focuses on folk, soul, and bluegrass music. There is no better way to celebrate local artists than to hear the sounds of the bluegrass state.
Will has a special connection to the Loudoun House as he attended art classes here as a young boy. His art filled the house then, as it will at this event. This fits with Artist Potluck’s theme of art connecting everyone at every age.
Come join us for Artist Potluck on Thursday, January 28th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Loudoun House!
Written by Blair Johnson, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky Journalism student
Resolving to grow in self-confidence and awareness is a wonderful way to start the new year. This is exactly what the first exhibition of 2016 will focus on. Entitled Artist: Body, artists and the audience will examine themselves through the world of self-portraiture in contemporary art. The art and experience will allow them to step back and analyze their own images.
To kick off Artist: Body, the first event is called Fourth Friday: A Figure Study. This event will be held on January 22nd and will include an evening-long painting demonstration and participatory drawing classes, all accompanied by the live music of The Swells.
Sheldon Tapley, an artist and Professor at Centre College known for his still-life paintings, will lead the painting demonstration. His work has been shown in places such as Louisville, Sacramento and New York. According to his biography, Tapley works alongside his students, drawing or painting from a model. His focus on the figure makes him a great artist for A Figure Study.
Martin Beck will lead the participatory drawing classes. He focuses on the figure in many of his collections, including one called Modern Romance. Jerry Stein from the Cincinnati Post commented on his work by saying, “In some of his pictures, figures seem to be coming out of the paintings to join the living.”
The audience will turn into the artists in the Miriam Woolfolk gallery. Mirrors will cover the room and guests will have the opportunity to create self-portraits of themselves.
Audience interaction will continue with selfie sticks that will be available near the band. These bring the idea of self-portraiture into the technology world and open up another layer of self-exploration.
The Swells is a band from Lexington known for taking their listeners to another time and place. Attendees at A Figure Study will hear the band’s blues, jazz and swing sounds float through the Loudoun House as they explore the different eras and mediums of self-portraiture. The Swells’ latest album, called Public Domain, covers music by Mississippi John Hurt, Erroll Garner, Marty Robbins, and many others.
These artists, as well as a cash bar and appetizers provided by Bella Notte will make A Figure Study a night to remember.
Come out to experience A Figure Study on January 22nd from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Loudoun House.
Written by Blair Johnson, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky Journalism student
Ed Franklin is an artist that studied at Berea College and now lives and works in Lexington, KY. Franklin currently works at a book and gift shop store called Sqecial Media when he is not creating his amazing pieces. His wood pieces are whimsical and mythical. He builds this community through his art. He created a gift-giving art project called "A Doll a Day for June," where he placed one of his hand-created dolls all around downtown Lexington. It was a type of scavenger hunt with clues and photos that he posted to hint people where they were. The month-long event lasted all month till June 30th. He has used his art and talents to connect people together in the community.
Lexington Art League (LAL): What motivated you to become an artist? Was it something you always wanted to do, or did some person or event influence you to pursue it?
Ed Franklin (EF): I remember someone I very much admire saying to me, "Let's have some fun and get lost in this beautiful city." I was just a kid at the time so the idea of being lost troubled me, but the more we walked, the more relaxed I became
and the more aware I became of the landscape around us. Being a bit lost makes you more aware of your surroundings.
Being a bit relaxed makes your surroundings more beautiful. With that excursion I began to look at drawing (and art in general) as language, communication, dialogue -a city to become lost in - alive with shape, colour, line, form, grid, repetition, pattern.
Everything is constantly talking to us. Lines that catch, entangle, move us along. I wanted to be part of that energy and movement.
LAL: What would you say is your number one inspiration in creating the pieces that you do?
EF: A lost and hidden time.
LAL: What goes into your design process for a new piece?
EF: A good deal of waiting and being patient.
LAL: What would you describe as the central theme of your artwork?
EF: Looking backwards— old German and Scandinavian toys, icons, Dada, modernism, a first kiss.
LAL: What do you think is the biggest reward in creating and sharing art?
EF: Being able to communicate in a different sort of language.
LAL: What went into the creation of the pieces being presented in the CSA shop?
EF: Energy, effort, thought— creating 30 small pieces in a very short amount of time becomes like building a small factory with an employee of one.
LAL: What does it mean to you being apart of CSA and supporting the local arts?
EF: Supporting any art and having the possibility of making someone even a little happier goes a long way in making me feel lucky and a bit better about the world.
LAL is so excited to have artist, Linda Blumer with us for the CSA Fall Share event. Linda grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. From a young age she was drawn to the creative side of life, having a natural love for art. Having grown up in the mountains surrounded by nature, she developed an interest in the outdoors and people. This grew into a passion to take pictures of her surroundings and later led her to pursue a career in the photography field. Linda followed her passion and attended the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton where she continued to grow and learn about photography. She is inspired by the ever changing world around her and believes it is her purpose to create art.
Lexington Art League (LAL): How did you first get started with photography? What made you want to pursue a career in this field?
Linda Blumer (LB): I grew up in rural Eastern Kentucky, and had the ability to get out and roam in nature. Wildflowers became my passion and for many years that was my main focus. I was fortunate to have met and made many friends that also were nature photographers. I was always interested in putting things together as a child, so I think this was the beginning of my love for art. I received a Polaroid camera, that shot only black and white film in the 1980ʼs and a few years later I bought my first 35mm camera, a Nikon FM, totally manual, and I was hooked. I wanted to document and create images with my camera and it gave me my creative outlet. I attended the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton, Ohio for two years with my main focus portraiture. I worked in the studio setting for several years, but wanted more freedom with the camera, so I went back to nature.
LAL: Your photographs are amazing and nature is one thing that really inspires you. Would you say you gain inspiration from anything else?
LB: I am inspired by the changing world, and it is a daily change. I feel that I am here to create art.
LAL: Is there a certain theme that your work portrays?
LB: I feel that I have become very eclectic with my photography, if I see something that interests me, the chase is on to create something visually different.
LAL: The majority of your work is photography, but you also have some mixed media pieces. Can you tell me about the process you go through when creating these mixed media pieces?
LB: I think as artists we progress with our creative abilities and mixed media is that progression for me. Photography is mostly my base for creating the mixed media. I will use a photograph and add the encaustic wax or some found object where I am shooting. I am not back to hand coloring some my images with pastels and pencils. Mixed media has opened up many new doors for me.
LAL: Great! Now what would you say is the most rewarding part about being an artist?
LB: The finished piece, and the ability to create that piece. I am a driven artist.
LAL: We are so excited to have you as a part of the CSA Fall Share. Why is supporting local art important to you?
LB: Lexington has so many great artists, I am honored to work with and support the community.
We are proud to be an adopter of GoodGiving.net. Check out our portrait today!
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.