Arts and Culture

The Louisville Visual Art Association’s new downtown gallery is open.  As part of its downtown relocation, LVAA has opened a gallery called Public in Whiskey Row Lofts (131 W. Main St.). The first invitational exhibit, “Public @ Public,” features fifteen local artists who created new work illuminated by lightboxes exploring the public theme.

The show demonstrates a key position LVAA plays in the community–bringing together a diverse slate of artists in one common space. Some of the artists are well known in the art community — Bryce Hudson and Russell and Shelley Hulsey, for example — but it’s also a space to find new voices, like recent transplants Rudy Salgado and Susanna Crum, who moved to New Albany after finishing graduate work in printmaking at the University of Iowa.  

Salgado and  Crum collaborated on an installation based on the idea of the parlor game Exquisite Corpse — one person draws a head, covers it up, and passes it to the next person, who draws a torso, covers it up, and passes it on, and so on. The end result is sometimes grotesque, always surprising. Salgado and Crum used a digital microscope to photograph extremely close anatomical details. Prints of the details are hung next to five small lightboxes arranged vertically on the wall. 

“One’s the head, one’s the torso, and so on down the body.,” says Salgado. “It’s an interactive piece, so people can grab the different transparencies and put them in different sections and build their own exquisite corpse.”

It’s way, he says, of amplifying things we normally keep hidden into the public space.

“Somebody’s chest hair at 300 times the average size is really disgusting in a lot of ways. You see things that you really don’t want to see,” says Salgado.

Salgado and Crum moved to Kentuckiana together with a plan to open a community printshop after finishing their MFAs in Iowa. She’s a Louisville native, he’s from Southern California, and they’ve found a thriving printmaking community here. 

“I’ve never lived in a place like Louisville,” says Salgado. “There’s so much history, and almost a nostalgia for old technology.” 

Another compelling piece in the exhibit is a compilation of portraits created by the artists of StudioWorks, a Highlands art studio and gallery that serves artists with developmental disabilities. StudioWorks artists took a series of photographic portraits of one another and arranged them on the lightbox for their installation. Site manager Al Gorman says his clients’ work is a reminder that people with disabilities can also be working artists.

“If you believe that human beings are born creative or with that potential – the community that I work with for a long time wasn’t given credit for being creative. These people have stories and they are capable of telling them,” says Gorman.

“Public @ Public” is open through March 3.  The gallery will offer rotating exhibits throughout the year.