Julie Leidner stands in a small, one-car garage in Old Louisville. The interior walls have been whitewashed and the concrete slab floor is mostly covered with white tiles. Through the glass-paneled door, she can look over at a graffitied rod iron stairwell right in the middle of the stretch of Magnolia Street that runs between Second and Third Streets.
This is her new gallery space, Sheherazade.
Even when it’s eventually filled with art, it would be easy to walk by without noticing it — and according to Leidner, that’s kind of the point. Site-specific art installations at Sheherazade are intended to be viewable only from the outside, though they will be lit 24 hours a day.
The project is akin to the Phantom Galleries project that took over La Crosse, Wisconsin, storefronts several years back. Organizers described the movement then as “temporary exhibition spaces created by community artists who work together in order to enliven street-level downtown windows, empty storefronts, and public spaces with colorful artwork exhibitions and installations that are viewable and accessible at all hours from the sidewalk.”
This isn’t the first project in Louisville to promote art in unexpected places; last year the city saw the launch of the Alley Gallery initiative and the One Poem at a Time billboard project in Smoketown.
And like those projects, Sheherazade is about bringing art to the forefront in an unexpected place.
It’s also about offering new artists a place to test the waters of showcasing their work.
“In my role as an art teacher, one of the things I’ve enjoyed doing is talking with young artists, helping them envision their work,” Leidner said. “So, the idea of this space sort of grew out of that. It’s a way for me to give young artists a space where they can take risks publicly more than they might in their own studio practice.”
Artists will rotate every six weeks, with the first show featuring local artist Norman Spencer.
There is an open house — which is the only night visitors can actually get inside the space — on January 27.
More information is available here.