Time to bring in a consultant

“Time to bring in a consultant,” is a phrase rarely met with excitement. Paying an outsider, labeled as an expert, to judge our processes and outcomes is a cringe-worthy prospect. With this in mind, you would think the Kentucky Peer Advisory Network (KPAN) Program would be a hard sell. Through KPAN, the Kentucky Arts Council offers three- and six-hour consultancies to assist organizations and eligible individual artists with board development, grant writing, marketing and promotions, strategic planning, festival planning and other needs. On the contrary, this program is very popular, and many artists and organizations apply for assistance every time the program is open. Even if we’re timid or annoyed by being advised, no one can argue that the opinion of someone who is not “too close” to an organization, business or project is valuable.

The difference between KPAN and a dreaded consultancy is the “peer” aspect. Arts professionals on the Kentucky Peer Advisory directory are working artists or individuals who have operated arts organizations or arts programs.

KPAN directory

You can choose arts professionals from across the Commonwealth using our directory, or allow us to match you with the best advisor for your needs and location.

The advisors often tell me that the learning was reciprocal with the person or organization they were hired to help. If you’re interested in bringing a peer advisor to evaluate your arts business or organization, the current application deadline is June 15. If you’d like more information about this program, contact sarah.schmitt@ky.gov.

Sarah Schmitt, community arts and access director

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A career beyond words: Trent Altman, June’s artist of the month

Trent Altman will be the Kentucky Arts Council’s featured artist during June 2015. We asked his parent and manager, Dr. Jackie Marquette, and companion and art facilitator, Rachel Whitehorse, to share some thoughts about his artwork and his extensive career as we close Autism Awareness Month and look forward to his featured artist month in June.

I was invited by the Kentucky Arts Council to write about Trent Altman, accomplished visual artist and member of the Kentucky Crafted Program since 2003. It was my pleasure to accept this opportunity. Trent is my middle adult son and he has autism. Trent has two brothers, Todd and Travis.

The month of April was Autism Awareness Month, and although Trent has autism, he has evolved over the years into an accomplished abstract expressionistic artist. The emphasis surrounding Autism Awareness Month is to influence the public’s understanding of the needs and challenges of this group and their families. The purpose is to promote acceptance and inclusion throughout all areas of society – educational, employment, medical, and our communities. While much of the focus is on individual supports, they are sometimes inadequate or unavailable, causing a wide gap of tremendous need. Additionally, I believe it is important that we focus on the development of their best strengths, interests and pursuance of their exceptional talents all within the realm of “supports and acceptance.” The journey for Trent and our family has not been easy, but by arranging for supports and watching Trent achieve his potential and overall emotional well-being, it has been well worth it. I would not have traded it for the world.

Trent is being honored at the United Nations. The stamp poster using his painting, An Abstract Garden

The stamp poster using his painting, An Abstract Garden

In 2012, Altman’s painting, “An Abstract Garden II,” was chosen by the United Nations for a stamp. One million stamps were printed and sold around the world to raise global awareness about autism. Trent was one of two artists with autism chosen from the United States to participate. We were grateful that the arts council awarded Trent a grant to cover some travel expenses so he could attend the United Nations ceremony and receive his award.

strokes of genius

Trent receives the Strokes of Genius (SOG) Inc. artist achievement award

Also in 2012, Trent received the Strokes of Genius (SOG) Inc. artist achievement award. “His paintings are beyond bold and dramatic. Altman’s use of multiple layers, and his distinctive style result in a monumental flow of intimately muted colors and three dimensional textures on canvas,” writes Dr. Rosa Martinez, President of Strokes of Genius. Since then, Dr. Martinez has represented Trent as an artist to exhibitions in New York City. Recently, Trent had an exhibition at the Port Authority in New York from December 2014 to January 2015.

To complete that amazing year, Valerie Trimble with Kentucky Educational Television produced a documentary, “Art for Expression,” featuring Trent and his art making. In 2013, this film was nominated for an EMMY by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. In 2014, the documentary was accepted and screened at the Golden Door Film Festival in Jersey City, New Jersey. A collector who purchased five of Trent’s paintings for his new upscale apartment complex in Nashville sponsored the trip for Trent to attend the festival.

In 2013, Trent received the International Autistic People’s Award for visual artist out of applicants from 17 countries. Trent, me and his step dad traveled to British Columbia to receive the award, attend the red carpet ceremony and take part in the arts festival. Later, Trent was honored and appointed the American Ambassador for Autism through ANCA, Naturally Autistic organization. We are sincerely appreciative to everyone who made it possible for Trent to attend the ceremonies and festival. Several of Trent’s art collectors and fans from Louisville purchased paintings or provided a sponsorship that enabled him to make the trip. Dick Wilson, Senior Vice President Investments, Morgan Stanley and Dr. Tami Cassis of Cassis Dermatology & Aesthetics Center were two sponsors among many.

Sea view shore, Trent Altman

Sea view shore, Trent Altman

For the past two years, Trent has been represented as an artist in Naples, Florida, by the Sweet Art Gallery. He has captivated art collectors and buyers of his paintings.

Most excitingly, this week we signed a contract with Agora Art Gallery to represent Trent Altman and his art for the next two years in New York. We are thrilled for Trent to have this opportunity. Agora Art Gallery is one of six best contemporary art galleries in the city.

Even with Trent’s talent, it can only happen with supports. Rachel Whitehorse is Trent’s companion and has lived with Trent now for two years. She also is Trent’s art facilitator and provides support so Trent can have the opportunity to paint daily in his art studio, Art Sanctuary in Louisville. She also assists him in connecting to friendships and community settings. Rachel travels with Trent and attends all art receptions with him.

Because of Trent’s autism, he does have challenges in verbal communication, yet he has no limitation in self expression in making his art. Through many hours of Rachel’s observation, she gained unique insight. She provides an interpretation of Trent’s emotions during the process of his art making.

Unspoken Words and Emotions Expressed

“While considering many different color options, the choice is hard for me, but I enjoy it. After choosing the right color, I wait impatiently to begin. When it’s just right, I feel compelled to start. Taking a deep breath, I figure the right place to begin my brush strokes, swiping the canvas as my voice rumbles with excitement. I begin to sing. While scraping the jagged surface, I get more excited from one moment to another until my canvas has been completely painted and/or scraped to my expectations. Taking a moment to calm myself from start to finish, I want to immediately start again.”

Abstract Garden II, Trent Altman

Abstract Garden II, Trent Altman

This is Trent’s emotions exposed and unspoken words as interpreted by Rachel Whitehorse.

Rachel explains, “This is my interpretation of Trent’s approach to the canvas. We all know actions speak louder than words. As his art facilitator, I get to see his art blossom into the wonderful pieces they become. I am honored that I’m able to do so. People ask me often about his autism and how he paints. This is how I see it. When he walks through the threshold of the studio door, his autism is left behind, and he emerges into the artist within and creates to heart’s content.”

To see Trent Altman’s paintings, go to his website or watch Trent paint a complete oversized painting in a time lapse video.

Trent Altman, artist
Dr. Jackie Marquette, parent and art manager
Rachel Whitehorse, companion and art facilitator

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Audrey Schulz’s last hurrah? I think not.

by Ed Lawrence, Arts Marketing Director, Kentucky Arts Council

When I put out an invitation to Kentucky Crafted artists to exhibit at the Governor’s Derby Celebration in downtown Frankfort, I quickly got a response from Audrey Schulz. She indicated that she would like to participate and it might be her last hurrah. This got me worried because I thought this wonderful artist who has been making soft-sculpture horses since the early 80s was quitting. I knew Audrey had been involved with the Kentucky Crafted program since I came to work for the Kentucky Arts Council in 1994 and had been a part of the program (formerly Department of the Arts, Crafts Division) at its inception.

Schulz_Audrey_blog

A telephone conversation with Audrey allayed all my fears and convinced me that this 84-year-old artist will probably be painting horses and creating soft-sculpture animals for another 20 years. When I told her how remarkable it is that she is still working at her age, Audrey said, “I never thought of age.” She firmly believes that creating artwork and being active are the keys to health and longevity.

Audrey made her first soft sculpture for a friend who was in the hospital. She described it as “a drunken horse with a garland of roses.” A coworker saw it and offered her $40 for it and that’s when the business idea began. She had her designs copyrighted in 1983. She credits a lot of her start-up success to then First Lady Phyllis George Brown, followed by Gov. Martha Lane Collins and current Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, who headed up the Department of the Arts during the Collins administration. Her work was introduced at the New York International Gift Fair by Gov. Collins along with a number of other Kentucky craft artists who were being introduced to national and international wholesale markets. There is no exact count of how many horses she has made over the years but she knows it is in the thousands. Her whimsical creatures have been carried by Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and other fine shops across the nation. Although she no longer participates in Kentucky Crafted: The Market, Audrey claims that the Market is responsible for the continued success of her business. She has established so many accounts over the years that she now gets as many orders as she can fill. www.audreyschulzhorses.com

Schulz_Horse

Every day I come to work, I am reminded of Audrey Schulz. My office is right across the way from the Kentucky Department for Travel and Tourism main reception area. Proudly displayed among a number of Kentucky crafted items is Audrey’s galloping thoroughbred ready to run in the Kentucky Derby.

DerbyTent_blog

Be sure to come to the Governor’s Derby Celebration in downtown Frankfort, May 2, 2015, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Audrey Schulz will join nine other Kentucky Crafted artists in the Kentucky Arts Council’s sales tent on the Old Capitol Lawn.

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Kentucky Writers’ Day Month

By Tamara Coffey

April is Kentucky Writers’ Day Month. I know, I know, grammatically speaking, that’s just wrong, but why should we limit our celebration of Kentucky writers to only one day? After all, it is National Poetry Month, and Kentucky has been blessed with an abundance of gifted writers of all sorts—poets, playwrights, journalists, memoirists, biographers, bloggers, children’s and young adult writers and writers of creative nonfiction and literary and genre fiction (and others I’ve missed, no doubt). The literary waters in Kentucky overflow their banks more often than the Kentucky River, so why not celebrate Kentucky Writers’ Day Month?

The Kentucky Arts Council will host Kentucky Writers’ Day, a celebration of all Kentucky writers, Friday, April 24, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time, in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Writers and other lovers of words will gather to welcome the newest Kentucky poet laureate, George Ella Lyon, a writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and plays. She will be joined by past Kentucky poets laureate Richard Taylor, Joe Survant, Sena Jeter Naslund, Gurney Norman, Maureen Morehead and Frank X Walker. All will read from their original work, a treat for all bibliophiles and bookworms — the chance to hear writers read their own words.

In case you’re curious, April 24 was chosen as Kentucky Writers’ Day because it is the birthday of Robert Penn Warren, a poet, novelist and literary critic from Guthrie in Todd County. Penn is the only writer to have received a Pulitzer Prize in fiction (“All the King’s Men”) and poetry (“Promises: Poems 1954-1956” and “Now and Then”). He was named the first U.S. poet laureate back in 1986. Prior to 1986 there was a Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, and guess what — Robert Penn Warren was named as the third consultant in 1944. The second consultant was Allen Tate from Winchester, Ky. Oh yeah, Kentucky literary waters run deep!

Are you ready to dip your toes into the eddy of poetry and literature? Here’s a sampling of websites that feature writings of and readings by writers from Kentucky and elsewhere to tide you over:
Kentucky Writers’ Day readings
Library of Congress readings
Library of Congress Archive of Poetry and Literature
Poetry 180
The Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Archive
Poetry Out Loud
National Poetry Month April 2015

Maybe you’ll want to wade in by taking the Kentucky Arts Council’s Writers’ Day Challenge. Simply post on Facebook that you are accepting the challenge from @KentuckyArtsCouncil, add a few lines of your own writing and include the hashtag #kywritersday.

Or just dive into Kentucky Writers’ Day by joining us in the Capitol Rotunda at 10 a.m. this Friday. Can’t make it to Frankfort? Make your own Writers’ Day celebration by inviting your friends, coworkers and others to share their original writing or excerpts of their favorite Kentucky literature and poetry. Don’t hesitate, you only have until the end of next week to be a part of Kentucky Writers’ Day Month.

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Our writing places

By Maureen Morehead

Two winters ago, when I visited Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachusetts, I wanted to see the room in which she wrote her poems. Years before, I’d visited the homes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott in Concord. I stood in the tower in which Hawthorne wrote, like Earnest Hemingway, standing up; and in the Alcott parlor where Emerson waited many times to engage Louisa’s father in conversation.

Dickinson’s bedroom, where she wrote her poems, is spacious but spare. The room is up a flight of stairs; it includes a small bed; three windows—two overlooking the main road, the third facing her brother’s house; a wooden floor; a dresser; and a tiny square writing desk. On the desk is a lamp, and beneath it a chair, small, befitting Emily’s small body. Someone had placed a photocopied example of one of her fascicles on the bed, which was to me the most astonishing thing in the room. Sixteen pages of poems in Emily’s handwriting, the original arranged and sewn together by the poet herself, caused me to whisper a silent thank you to her sister Lavinia for saving the poetry.

We’re interested in the places writers compose their work, especially those whose writing we’ve studied and loved. Place tells us about them in ways the writing doesn’t. We can also learn from evidence (the drafts, revisions and letters) preserved, often in libraries, and archived for scholars to study and examine. Dickinson’s sister, upon Emily’s death, found in her room a box filled with years of writing. Even though she lived in the house with Emily, she had no idea how prolific her sister had been. Lavinia could have burned the poems, as she did her sister’s correspondence and which was customary at the time, but she didn’t. What she did do is determine the poems needed to be published. When she couldn’t do it herself, she gave the poetry to T.W. Higginson, Emily’s long-time correspondent, and her brother Austin’s mistress, an educated woman with whom Emily had shared poems. In 1890 the first collection of poems by Emily Dickinson came out in print.

I’ve written often about my writing place, a family room in my house decorated with Bybee Pottery, Louisville Stoneware and colorful Ball jars used by family in eastern and western Kentucky to preserve their goods. From where I sit across from three tall windows, I have a view of leafless trees, oak and ash and walnut, native to Kentucky. Deer, squirrels, raccoons, the occasional hawk, woodpeckers, cardinals, bluejays, finches, and titmice populate the wood and gather at my feeders, especially in winter. The images around me, exterior and interior, provide the images, often used as metaphors, for my poems.

For Kentucky Writers’ Day let me emphasize the relevance of writers to save the notes, jottings and drafts along with the final copies of their writing, whatever the genre. We delete our drafts frequently as easy as it is on a word processor, denying ourselves access to our original drafts and to revisions that may be better than our final changes. Deleting works in progress, we deny access to others, students and scholars, who desire to examine our writing processes to figure out the nature of our creativity. And there is another group who may find writings invaluable. A writer’s children, friends, grandchildren and their children will learn so much about us from our writings, even if our poems, stories, plays and journal entries aren’t the quality of a Dickinson, a Robert Penn Warren or a Bobbie Ann Mason. I believe our readers will find our interests, ideas, stories, personalities and concerns in our writings. And they just might be taken to the places where their ancestors wrote their poems.

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Please join the Kentucky Arts Council on Kentucky Writers’ Day, 10 a.m. April 24 in the Capitol Rotunda for the induction of George Ella Lyon as Kentucky Poet Laureate.

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