Arts and Culture

“Connect | Disconnect,” a Louisville Metro public art experience that was on view last fall, was a reminder that art comes in many forms: a tangle of driftwood, a pyramid of barrels, or a myriad of porcelain knobs.

Organized along the Louisville Loop between 8th and 12th Streets, “Connect | Disconnect” was the first project commissioned by Louisville Metro in collaboration with the Commission on Public Art — however, at the Americans for the Arts convention this past weekend, it was clear that the premier initiative was a resounding success.

Americans for the Arts honored 38 outstanding public arts projects created in 2015 through the Public Art Network Year in Review program, the only national program that specifically celebrates the most compelling public art.

All three of the “Connect | Disconnect” pieces were recognized.

The pieces were “Beneath the Surface” by artist Mary Carothers, “Upriver/Downriver” by artist Mark Reigelman II, and “River Monument (glomus)” by artist collaborative SIMPARCH. The works were chosen from 260 entries across the country.

In case you’ve forgotten these works of art (they were taken down in November, after all), here’s a quick refresher:

Beneath the Surface

Beneath The SurfaceCourtesy Kenneth Hayden

“Beneath the Surface” ©2015

Carothers used clay and iron — two materials ingrained in Louisville’s industrial economy — to create door knobs that were, in a way, planted in the grass along the Louisville Loop. They were meant to symbolize hospitality and home.  

Upriver/Downriver

Upriver/Downriver © 2015 Courtesy Mark Reigelman II

Upriver/Downriver © 2015

While perhaps the best known barrels in Kentucky are the kind that hold bourbon, artist Mark Reigelman II wanted to create an installation that allowed visitors to view the objects through a different lens — literally. Reigelman was inspired by how first settlers along the Ohio River would stuff barrels with their belongings and float them up and downriver as a means of shipping. For “Upriver/Downriver,” he created a pyramid of 21 barrels with different colored, saturated mirror surfaces.

River Monument (glomus)

"River Monument" ©2015Courtesy Kenneth Hayden

“River Monument” ©2015

Created with local driftwood captured at Louisville’s Portland Canal, SIMPARCH’s “River Monument” was an homage to the ephemeral nature of both the river and art. As the artist collective wrote in their statement on the piece: “Disparate and mysterious, driftwood floats at random until captured along the shore or becoming enmeshed in a collection of its own kind, sometimes traveling as a rogue island…this agglomeration of driftwood and manufactured debris is a land-based symbol of the river as an unpredictable and powerful force.” The work was a densely woven sphere of the driftwood, elevated on a support pole.

Mayor Greg Fischer said in a recent news release that “Connect | Disconnect” brought together the community to experience a temporary art walk on the Louisville Loop and the Ohio River in overlooked locations, opening the door for such spaces to be considered platforms for public art.

“Future public art initiatives will continue to provide opportunities for artists to present new work in public spaces,” Fischer said.