Arts and Culture

Leadership of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville announced four major exhibitions for its 2021 season on Monday, including some shows with ties to the Commonwealth. 

The recently revealed curatorial lineup kicks off in the new year with “Collecting – A Love Story: Glass from the Adele and Leonard Leight Collection,” opening Feb. 5.

Adele and Leonard Leight were well known art collectors in Louisville, and the forthcoming Speed exhibition will feature 60-plus artworks from the Leights’ collection, displayed in the  Leight Gallery at the museum, as well as throughout the Speed’s permanent collection galleries. 

Pete Mauney

Jeffrey Gibson (American, born 1972). I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be
Free, 2018. Glass beads, artificial sinew, wool, tin jingles, steel studs, on canvas over
wood panel. The Speed Art Museum, partial and promised gift, Adele and Leonard
Leight Collection 2019.17.4

Scoot Erbes, the Speed’s curator of decorative arts and designs, and artist and educator Norwood Viviano co-curated the exhibition, showcasing art by more than 50 artists, such as MacArthur genius grantee Jeffrey Gibson, famous glass artist Dale Chihuly and stained-glass artist Judith Schaechter.

Later in February, the Speed will open “Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper,” a retrospective of “the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes” of prominent contemporary Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave, according to a news release from the museum. Borchgrave is known for her painted paper sculptures that recreate centuries of European fashion. 

“If you are a lover of painting, craft, fashion or sheer technical skill, this exhibition is going to blow you away. It is theatrical, beautiful, wildly creative, and a wholly new way to look at art,” said Erika Holmquist-Wall, Speed’s curator of European & American painting and sculpture, in a  release. 

Isabelle de Borchgrave

Isabelle de Borchgrave b. 1946. Belgium. Three Tutus

‘A treasured part of Kentucky’s history’ on display in August

Starting Aug. 6, the museum will display what it calls, “a highly-anticipated new addition to the permanent collection and a treasured part of Kentucky’s history.”

The exhibition of Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s “The Unforeseen Wilderness” will feature 56 original photographs that Meatyard, an acclaimed photographer who was also an optician, made of the Red River Gorge. 

The images are from a “love letter and rallying cry for the preservation of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge” Meatyard co-created with Kentucky author Wendell Berry after they traveled across the gorge together in 1971.

“This work belonged in Kentucky,” director Stephen Reily said in the news release. “The Speed is proud to own and now share the work of one of the 20th century’s most important photographers, one who also made his life and career in Kentucky… and Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s photography helped preserve Red River Gorge with work that reflects the deep natural beauty of our Commonwealth.”

Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Ralph Eugene Meatyard American, 1925 – 1972. Untitled from The Unforeseen Wilderness, 1967 – 1971. Gelatin silver print. Partial gift of the Estate of Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Museum purchase with funds generously provided by Eleanor Miller, Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham, Victoire and Owsley Brown III, Eliza Brown, Anne Brewer Ogden, and Cornelia Bonnie 2019.6.

Traveling show exploring the supernatural, paranormal

Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art” will open at the Speed Oct. 2.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) organized the traveling exhibition, a curation of art from the 1800s to present-day that “reflect[s] on the haunted nature of American and its history,” the release said. 

“Whether these artists are drawing upon faith, folklore, or even experience, their work calls out the history and the truths that haunt this country,” curator Erika Holmquist-Wall said.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.