Visitors to the Forecastle Festival in Louisville last weekend may have noticed a unique installation—a recording booth for making impromptu tapes. It’s called Nave, like the center of a church. The booth is shrouded in a white tent, near a side stage. Trixie Whitley’s playing outside, but in here, the muted music could be your parents’ stereo leaking down into your basement sanctuary. Artist Jacob Heustis designed the space to feel intimate and familiar, like the spare rooms he hung out in as a kid.“We used to squeeze in a full band, and kids would come crowding in and hang out during practice,” says Heustis, who also plays bass for the band Wax Fang. Carpet squares stapled to the wall offer some soundproofing. There’s half of a sagging couch, a gargoyle on the table next to an ashtray.“I definitely wanted it to feel very lived in, so you felt transported from the environment you were in outside, so you feel like you are possibly in someone’s basement, which feels the furthest place from a festival,” he says.Here’s how it works: you take a blank tape from the door attendant and step inside, where a guitar, a toy piano and other instruments await.“We got a little Casio. A tambourine. A shaker, in case you want to get Cuban,” says Heustis. "I laid off the bongos." There’s a double-decked portable radio–what we used to call a boom box–and a smaller tape recorder, which Heustis calls "kind of noisy, but it's still old-school, like the original first portable General Electric cassette recorder."After you record, you label the tape–give it a name–and leave it with the attendant. The tapes will be digitized and archived online, so you can share your song or remain anonymous.“There’s no pressure either when you’re just like, whatever, you’re just making a tape,” says Heustis.Heustis dreamed up Nave with singer EMA for a gallery exhibit at Land of Tomorrow about the intersection of art and music. They wanted to capture the experience of making music on the fly, without the safety of digital tools and professional studios, to explore the power of "that immediacy, and the low-fidelity quality, and how that is really important to a recording and to the vibe,” says Heustis.Unlike everything else at a music fest, Nave asks the audience to create rather than consume. It’s invitational and participatory, almost revolutionary for the setting.“I know that I’ve been super inspired at live shows," he says. "And to think that, yeah, you might walk away from that set totally reeling and come across this nook and lay down a track.”Forecastle is Nave's first music festival, but the plan is for the booth to tour the country next year. As Nave tours, the online archive, which Heustis says will be live soon, will grow.
The University of Louisville has signed a new one-year contract with former Fund for the Arts CEO Allan Cowen. Cowen is exploring partnerships between the university and the arts community. Cowen signed on with the University in January for a six-month, $50,000 contract to help the university determine, among other things, whether the university would exercise its option to buy the downtown land previously slated for the Museum Plaza development.University spokesman Mark Hebert says the new contract was offered to give the university more time to fully explore possible partnerships between the arts and culture community and the university, including a presence downtown. Cowen will also raise money for new initiatives that arise from these collaborations.He will be paid $150,000 from private funds for one year of work. The university is not announcing any formal plans or initiatives related to Cowen’s work at this time.Cowen left the Fund for the Arts last year after a controversy over his gruff demeanor in dealing with several arts organizations.
This weekend's Jane Austen Festival in Louisville will feature a one-woman play about Fanny Kemble, a legendary English actress and author who wrote in the style of Jane Austen.“Shame the Devil: an Audience with Fanny Kemble, written by Anne Ludlum, is based on Kemble’s own journals. Kemble never met Jane Austen—she was only six when the novelist died. But Austenites celebrating the Regency Era this weekend will hear a deep kinship between the two women.“Both Jane Austen and Fanny Kemble were writers all of their lives, and they were both perceptive observers of people and society and culture,” says director Kathi E.B. Ellis. “In that respect, although they never met, their writing and their view of the world and the way they recount the world has a lot of similarities.” “She’s so precise about who she sees and what she thinks about them, so much in the way that Jane Austen, when you read her novels, her heroines always have very pithy, sometimes humorous, sometimes acerbic opinions about everybody she comes in contact with,” she adds. The play stars Megan Burnett, who plays the actress and the many people in her life—English and American, man and woman, free and slave, as well as the many characters Kemble plays in the one-woman staged readings of Shakespeare's plays she toured with after she officially retired from theater.“It is a tour de force for the person playing the role,” says director Kathi Ellis. "There are some wonderful passages of Shakespeare in the piece."Kemble toured the United States with her father, Charles Kemble, for two years, performing all over the Eastern seaboard. On her tour, she fell in love with and married Pierce Butler, a young man from Philadelphia whose family owned plantation lands in the Sea Islands of Georgia.She’s best known for the journals she published of her time living on the plantation, in which she condemned slavery. Her writings, as an outspoken, influential outsider, helped fuel the abolitionist movement.“It’s really interesting both to read her journal and hear her refer to how she handled those three months, trying to make a difference on a plantation and in some small ways succeeding, but one person against a system that’s entrenched is not necessarily going to make a difference,” says Ellis.The Jane Austen Festival runs Saturday and Sunday at Locust Grove. The event also features a Regency Era fashion show, bare-knuckle boxing demonstrations and a children’s tea.
After more than three decades in the historic Water Tower on River Road, the Louisville Visual Art Association will move downtown later this year. In October, the LVAA will move into interim headquarters at 609 West Main Street while they search for a new permanent home. Scheduled children’s art classes will remain at the Water Tower through the fall semester.Executive director Shannon Westerman says they’ll likely seek out space in what he calls the art nexus—between the East Market district and West Main and Ninth Streets, extending down to Spalding University south of Broadway.“As the art community has evolved over the last ten or fifteen years, it is increasingly difficult to attract people in their busy lives to a destination that’s off the beaten track, if you will,” says Westerman. The LVAA has leased the Water Tower from the Louisville Water Company for 32 years. The Water Company opted not to renew the organization's lease earlier this year.Westerman also says the the organization has outgrown the Water Tower. They're seeking six to eight thousand square feet of multi-use space for public art programs for their new headquarters. LVAA will hold a moving sale Saturday at the Water Tower to clean out their archives of art and art supplies. The sale begins at 8 a.m.
A healthy lifestyle isn't just about physical health. Seven Counties Services and the Mayor's Healthy Hometown Movement want to remind the community not to neglect mental health, so they're staging a free concert in the Kentucky Center's Bomhard Theater Friday that will emphasize the importance of preventative measures and empathy for those dealing with mental health issues. The first Shine On Louisville Music Fest will feature The River City Drum Corp, La’Nita Rocknette Dancers, Winnie and the Mojo, Appalatin, YPAS (Youth Performing Arts School) senior flutist Loren Been, the Louisville Youth Orchestra, VOICES of Kentuckiana community choir and Daniel Hardin and Jeff Thomas of The Sweet Nothings. Doors open at 6 p.m. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Further Reading on Mental Health IssuesThe National Institute of Mental Health prevention resourcesToo Little Mental Health Care For Boomers: 1 in 5 seniors has a mental health or substance abuse problemArmy Wives Battle With Their Own Mental HealthConcrete Steps for Creating a Happier OfficeFacebook Might Not Be So Healthy for Those with Low Self-Esteem
The 11th annual celebration of all things Lebowski—bowling, White Russians, what-have-you—happens this weekend at the Executive Strike and Spare. The Coen Brothers' 1998 film "The Big Lebowski" spawned a cult following with its own traveling fan festival, a religion based on its hero (Dudeism) and now a book of essays examining philosophical questions raised by the film. Is sloth a virtue? Is there such a thing as a just war? Is bowling a new interpretation of the Sisyphus myth, and is it the key to a meaningful life? How would Kierkegaard and Camus respond to "The Big Lebowski?"Peter Fosl is chair of the philosophy department at Transylvania University. He edited "The Big Lebowski and Philosophy: Keeping Your Mind Limber with Abiding Wisdom," published by Wiley in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series. Fosl says the Dude’s philosophy of abiding is how the film ultimately confronts violence and the difficulties of the modern world. He wrote about it in his essay for the collection titled "Bowling, Despair, and American Nihilism."“On one hand, The Dude is a loser and a deadbeat," says Fosl. "On the other hand, he has this compelling, engaging, compassionate humane virtue to him. It’s that virtue of abiding that draws people in.” Slacker and bowling league mainstay Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges, is neither violent nor particularly frightened by the strange and menacing events surrounding him in the increasingly chaotic plot that involves a cadre of nihilists, a missing trophy wife, a case of mistaken identity and another Lebowski, a millionaire tycoon offended by the Dude's lackadaisical lifestyle. "The Dude abides" is one of the film's many catch-phrases, reproduced on bumper stickers and shirts sported by the film's fans. It's in this act of abiding—to endure, to withstand without active opposition—that Fosl says the character unveils the key to finding meaning in a chaotic universe. "The film says the Dude was the perfect man for his time and place, for our time and place. If abiding is what he does, if abiding is the way he confronts nihilism and violence and difficulties of the world as he faces it in this post-Reagan, post-Vietnam, post-hippie place we’re in, then abiding is the centerpiece, the thing that has to be understood in order to understand the film," says Fosl. Fosl became a fan of the film because of the annual festival (he lives in Louisville, where the flagship event happens every year) and began to see its philosophical angles after repeat viewings.“I’ve always been committed to the idea that there’s philosophy everywhere, in our ordinary lives and in the scholarly world," says Fosl. "You can find it in pop music and film and books. Academic philosophers make a mistake in focusing so much on academic work.” Fosl will read from “The Big Lebowski and Philosophy” at Carmichael's Bookstore (2720 Frankfort Ave.) on Thursday. He’ll also sign copies Saturday at Lebowskifest.
Last night, Kentucky Shakespeare opened its production of Much Ado About Nothing, with a twist—this version is set in the Wild West. Producing Artistic Director Brantley Dunaway joined WFPL's Erin Keane on Friday's Byline, to talk about the show, and what's new with Kentucky Shakespeare.
The Kentucky Arts Council has awarded more than $600,000 to Jefferson County arts groups for the next fiscal year. The Kentucky Arts Partnership grant is an annual statewide program that funds operational support for nonprofit arts groups. This year, the arts council awarded more than $1.7 million to 104 groups across Kentucky that provide year-round arts programs for the public. In Jefferson County, 25 arts groups received operational support. The organizations range from large, established organizations like Actors Theatre of Louisville ($119,849) to smaller groups like chamber music ensemble Bourbon Baroque ($2,626). Funding is based on the organization's operating revenues and determined through a panel review. Here's a breakdown of Jefferson County organizations and state funding amounts for fiscal year 2013: Actors Theatre of Louisville $119,849Speed Art Museum (Specific funding is contingent upon Kentucky Arts Council evaluation of information regarding public programming for the period during which the museum will be closed for renovations.) The Louisville Orchestra $80,269 Louisville Ballet $73,913 Stage One Family Theatre $57,514 Fund for the Arts $66,918 Kentucky Opera Association $54,487 Walden Theatre $22,264 Louisville Visual Art Association $20,645 Kentucky Shakespeare $25,512 Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft $35,445 The Clifton Center $9,557 Sarabande Books $22,632 Crane House $20,039 VOICES of Kentuckiana $5,821 Portland Museum $15,785 The Louisville Youth Choir $6,832 Louisville Youth Orchestra $11,142 Looking For Lilith $3,797 Squallis Puppeteers $2,922 The Louisville Chorus $2,058 Choral Arts Society $3,482 Creative Diversity Studio $1,938 Bourbon Baroque $2,626 Louisville Literary Arts $1,000
Rain or shine—thousands of music fans will file through the gates at Waterfront Park for the 10th annual Forecastle Festival this weekend, which is expected to draw the largest crowd in its history.Thirty-five thousand people are estimated to attend Forecastle through Sunday, according to festival officials. The event features some of the largest names in the music industry including Louisville’s My Morning Jacket, which will headline the festival Sunday night.Festival spokeswoman Holly Weyler said the rainy weather forecasted this weekend is not a concern, and the event’s team is prepared.“We have everything covered in terms of evacuation plans and our full site team is aware of that, so we’re doing everything to make sure we provide the best experience for all of our guests and participants. And we’re not worried about the weather," she said.This will be the first festival since Forecastle founder J.K. McKnight officially partnered with AC Entertainment, which also runs the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in TennesseeWeyler wouldn’t say how many tickets have been sold, but the goal is to increase attendance by 10,000 from previous years and daily totals will be available the mornings after.
The Louisville Ballet returns to the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall with their new season, which opens in October with Val Caniparoli’s “Lady of the Camellias,” a tragic romance based on the 19th century novel by Alexandre Dumas fils about the courtesan Marguerite and her doomed affair with Armand, a provincial member of the middle class. The original story has inspired numerous adaptations, including Verdi’s opera “La Traviata.”“People will know from [Caniparoli’s] ‘Nutcracker’ that he’s a great choreographer, but he’s also very good at telling a story,” says artistic director Bruce Simpson. “In ‘Lady of the Camellias’ he does that exceptionally well.”Caniparoli choreographed a new version of “The Nutcracker” for the Louisville Ballet four years ago. It returns for the traditional holiday run in December. Simpson says it’s important to him to work with versatile choreographers like Caniparoli, who don’t insist on a one-size-fits-all approach for his mid-sized company.“Val knows the dancers very well and knows the Louisville community very well from having worked here on ‘Nutcracker’,” says Simpson. “We’re not American Ballet Theatre with 75 or 90 dancers.”“He uses the resources and the talent available in Louisville to give our unique look to his ballet. I love working with choreographers who don’t just visit Louisville, but are interested in the company and the community here,” he adds.Another famous pair of star-crossed lovers takes the stage in March. This version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is choreographed by former Louisville ballet directors Alun Jones and Helen Starr, and hasn’t been performed by the Ballet in 10 years.“Both Juliet and Marguerite seem to have a sense of destiny, of an inevitability of the story,” says Simpson. “Both of those stories are about women being in love and fighting against the societies in which they live in.”“Romeo and Juliet” is another production uniquely positioned to showcase the heritage of Louisville’s company, which includes several veteran dancers like Helen Daigle, Amanda Diehl and Emily Reinking-O’Dell.“They bring that intellectual property to the ballets in the repertoire, and that adds a richness to the quality of the performances,” says Simpson. “You can’t have an 18-year-old straight out of school doing Lady Capulet. You have to have someone with gravity and gravitas and substance to her career.”Simpson says the big challenge in season programming is selecting ballets with a wide appeal that show off the strengths of his company.“In the jigsaw puzzle of trying to put a season together to please everyone—your younger members of the audience, your traditional members and also the artists of the company—and pay attention to what the community likes, I’m excited to put together a season that has elements of everything,” says Simpson. “It’s important that we don’t always do the ‘Swan Lake’s.”The season will close in April with Breaking Ground, a mixed repertory show featuring two classics by Petipa, an energizing Messerer pas de deux to Rachmaninoff, a world premiere by resident choreographer Adam Hougland and a new ballet exploring relationships, space and silence by dancer Brandon Ragland.Like many of the classical 19th century ballets, Petipa’s “Paquita” was designed to showcase the ballerinas, so for balance, Simpson asked Hougland to create a showcase for the company’s male dancers. These two pieces will bookend Breaking Ground, which will also include two pas de deux, Pepita’s “Le Corsaire” and Asaf Messerer’s “Spring Waters,” a fast and furious duet which Simpson calls “a glass of champagne.”Ragland’s “Silent Conversation,” grew out of last year’s annual choreographer showcase. This year’s event will be held in January at the Louisville Ballet Studio.“Certainly it’s hard enough to develop dancers, but to develop choreographers is really difficult because it takes money and you have to take risks,” says Simpson. “We had a piece by Brandon Ragland that was so mature and so interesting, in spatial concepts and the way he used the dancers to tell relationships between people and silence.”
Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is one of the original romantic comedies, full of tropes you don’t have to be a Bard scholar to recognize: the bickering twosome who fight their mutual attraction until finally succumbing to each other’s unlikely charms, the tragic misunderstanding that derails a happy engagement, meddling relatives, scheming frenemies.“Much Ado About Nothing” is the first of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival’s free summer Shakespeare in the Park productions. It opens Thursday in the C. Douglas Ramey Ampitheatre in Central Park and runs every night except Mondays through July 29.In an estate on the island of Sicily, a prince and his soldiers relax and recharge after a fierce battle. One soldier, Benedick, rekindles his "merry war" with the sharp-tongued Beatrice, while his sincere sidekick Claudio woos Beatrice's sweet cousin Hero. The villainous Don John starts a rumor that Hero has been unfaithful to Claudio, with devastating results, while the other men of the estate play matchmaker with Beatrice and Benedick. Director Jane Page moved the setting from the Italian countryside to the Wild West in a context she likes to call “‘Gunsmoke’-meets-Shakespeare.” It’s her way of reconciling the macho rules that dictated behavior in Shakespeare’s comedy with her own emotional truths.“In this play, the huge problem I had is how is it possible that a father would believe his friends rather than his daughter when it comes to the truth about her circumstance and her father? I started thinking that there has to be a culture of great male solidarity, and a place where women are generally sort of second class and not taken as seriously,” says Page.Two engines drive this comedy: love and gossip. Page, who heads up the directing program at the University of California-Irvine, says she found the perfect setting for small-town intrigue in the romantic American frontier.“Small towns, you know? I think in my experience, it’s sort of embedded. People know a lot about each other and not always through the front door,” says Page.Performances are free, but reserved seating with wait service is available for $20.There are no shows Monday evenings during the run, but the Shakespeare Festival sponsors free outdoor movie nights instead. “Anonymous,” about the controversy surrounding the true author of William Shakespeare’s plays, plays July 16. The second Shakespeare in the Park production will be “Measure for Measure,” staged by the festival’s high school conservatory program in August.
It’s fine to hit the downtown First Friday Trolley Hop without a plan. Park, wander in and out of galleries, grab a drink or dinner with friends and hop a TARC trolley from one end of downtown to the next and back—you’re sure to find something to catch your eye or ears.But with so many events and gallery receptions happening at once, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so every month we take a look at five don’t-miss art events happening during the hop.Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft: "Hollers and Harvests"—Kentucky native Cecilia Adwell is getting her master's in curatorial practice at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, but she's home right now, interning at KMAC. Her curatorial debut is "Hollers and Harvests," an exhibit that pulls pieces from the museum's permanent collection that have ties to agriculture and farming traditions. A site-specific contemporary piece, Russel Hulsey's "Kentucky Monolith 2012," appears in the exhibit as well. While you're there, check out "Swimming Hole," a large interactive wall sculpture by twins Matthew and Mitchell Bradley. 715 W. Main St.Flame Run Glass Studio & Gallery: "It's a Chocolate Party"—Featuring the work of Jason Chakravarty, a mixed media glass artist whose work often includes a signature feature an astronaut dressed for space travel. Live demonstration during the reception. Note: Flame Run is now in the Glassworks Building. 815 W Market Street.Shine: "Revisions"—An exhibit featuring pieces by Linda Erzinger, who uses internal lenses and front screens of old televisions in her assemblage work "to transport the viewer through multiple planes of perception and awareness." Back of 732 E. Market St.Tim Faulkner Gallery: "Contours"—Prospect-based artist Wyatt Gragg's bronze work examines the human body in close detail, focusing on creases, folds and skin textures rather than full forms. The Faulkner Building hosts several other opening receptions this Friday as well, including a group show that celebrates with live music by Alanna Fugate. 943 Franklin St.Zephyr Gallery: "Pressure"—The intrepid Ground Floor Gallery curates an exhibit that runs through each room in Zephyr Gallery, accompanied by a original soundtracks by Alex Ferguson-Bell of OK Deejays. 610 E Market St.
In Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a shiny black monolith appears to a group of prehistoric apes. The monolith communicates with the apes, and they learn how to use tools, and eventually evolve into human beings.Fast-forward to the 21st century, and the monolith reappears in Louisville with the smell of warm alfalfa hay.In the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft’s “Hollers and Harvests” exhibit, six hay bales are stacked on a minimalist pedestal and artfully lit. They make up conceptual artist Russel Hulsey’s “Kentucky Monolith 2012.”Get a little closer and you hear this monolith communicating, too. It’s a quiet invitation rendered in digital audio. A voice whispers, “Hey …. Hey! Hey!”“Come in closer, is the idea,” says Hulsey. “Let me tell you a secret. Let me speak to you something of the deep wisdom of the earth.”The monolith is surrounded by folk art pieces from the museum’s collection, brightly-painted wooden objects depicting scenes and motifs from rural life. “Hollers and Harvests” explores the close ties folk artists have traditionally had with farming and agriculture. The exhibit opens during downtown’s First Friday Trolley Hop and runs through August 31.A contemporary piece like Hulsey’s, appearing alongside a Noah Kinney wood carving of a man driving a horse-drawn sawmill cart pulling raw lumber, helps disrupt the expectations dividing contemporary art from folk art traditions.“It’s a big gray area now,” says exhibit curator and Kentucky native Cecilia Adwell, a graduate student at California College of the Arts. “You have artists who are engaging with these aesthetics and techniques of traditional folk or craft, but may have a full education or have an MFA. They find these things interesting or have a family background in it.” “The idea that these levels of art production need to be separated and need to be defined is being challenged by contemporary curators and contemporary artists,” she adds. Though his techniques and tools are decidedly modern, Hulsey says the philosophical underpinnings of his works aren’t so far removed from folk art.“(My aim is) to point more toward folk wisdom and to get people in a more contemplative space, thinking about the earth and how we as tool maker and tool users, human beings of the 21st century, how we can perhaps more responsibly and sustainably working in conjunction with the earth, rather than thinking somehow that we dominate it,” says Hulsey.Inviting contemporary work like “Kentucky Monolith 2012” into the gallery with folk art pieces blurs the lines between art movements while solidifying the relevancy of the context in which rural folk artists worked. Issues surrounding agribusiness and sustainable farming were on Adwell’s mind as she selected works from the collection for the exhibit.“These are people who are farmers, or were farmers, and then started engaging their art production when it was harder to make a substantial living out of farming, because the technology was changing and corporations were able to make food cheaper,” says Adwell.“These artists might no longer be living around us, but we’re still dealing with these issues of agriculture and farming because our economic and cultural makeup is founded in agriculture and the natural resources this state provides."