Posts Tagged With: National Arts and Humanities month

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: 21c Museum Hotel

From a personal perspective, the 21c Museum Hotel is one of my favorite arts-related venues to visit. From its interactive artworks that engage the visitor with the work, to its cutting-edge gallery exhibits that address the hottest topics of the day, every step taken on a visit through the 21c is compellingly art-driven. And, as you’ll read in my interview with 21c co-founder Steve Wilson, that was the intent from the start.

Pairing the desire to renovate existing structures in Louisville for a hotel property while making contemporary art a part of more peoples’ daily lives, philanthropists and contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson set out on a journey to create the 21c Museum Hotel.

Much more than just a place to spend the night, 21c is an innovative union of genuine Southern hospitality, thoughtful design, and culinary creativity — all anchored by world-class contemporary art by today’s emerging and internationally acclaimed artists (hence the name, paying homage to the 21st century).

21c Museum Hotel, Business Award

Kentucky Arts Council: What role do the arts, artists and artwork play in the 21c business model?

Steve Wilson: As I have said many times, we are first an art experience and second a hotel. Our architects understand that we design our spaces to better exhibit art, and we commission artists to collaborate with the architects to come up with unique elements that our guests have come to love and look forward to experiencing.

We say that the art brings people in, but the hospitality brings them back. It’s a simple, yet surprisingly unique model.

KAC: What role has the 21c played in creative placemaking as a community development tool in Louisville?

SW: I think this is a question that might better be asked of the mayor or some of the Convention and Visitors Bureau staff, but we are very proud of what we have done for the community.

21c has played an important role in the revitalization of our downtown, proving that art can be an economic driver. Four empty buildings at the corner of 7th and Main Street have turned out to be a cultural center with programming provided free and 24 hours a day. The foot traffic on our block is markedly increased and our parking garage is always full. Obviously, these two simple facts translate into more business for all our neighbors. Our red penguin has been adopted as an icon for the city as it appears in tourism and downtown development advertising, and city officials make reference to our success to visitors and potential prospects. Art invigorates, it stimulates and it illustrates the genesis of the creative mind. All these feelings, emotions or experiences enhance and energize the business community and draws more customers and clients to downtown.

We have 180 employees in Louisville alone, and those are all new jobs and new taxes being generated.

KAC: How has the community responded to the 21c since it opened, and were you surprised in any way to that response?

SW: Since the first day we opened seven years ago, we have been overwhelmed and humbled by our success. The readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine have voted 21c Louisville the No. 1 Hotel in the U.S. twice. This tells me that people are responding to our efforts and have embraced the experience of 21c. We never expected to be opening more than one property, but many people from lots of different cities have encouraged us to come to their hometowns and do this all over again. Our hotels compete against some of the best brands in the best cities in the U.S. and still come out on top. It’s truly inspiring to see that kind of reaction to contemporary art.

KAC: How important is community support of the museum-hotel, and why is that support important?

SW: Community support is the lifeblood of 21c! What makes 21c so unique as a hotel is that our properties are in many ways as much for local residents as they are for travelers. We offer artist lectures, yoga with art, film nights, poetry readings and other live performances. And most importantly, we collaborate with arts organizations around Louisville to help enrich the cultural life of the city.

KAC: Why do you feel it is important to exhibit contemporary art, specifically?

SW: Contemporary artists are usually dealing with the issues with which we as a society are struggling. This is our way of allowing people to talk about subjects that may be uncomfortable or to laugh together at a work that they find comical. It’s about shared experience. All art was at some time contemporary. Artists are often also history documentarians.

KAC: In its role as an art museum, what experiences and opportunities does the 21c provide to visitors they won’t find elsewhere, especially in Kentucky?

SW: Who can say what a person will experience or remember from a visit to a 21c? I know that photography can take you around the world while standing in one spot … painting can take you deep into rich color and often create a mood or emotion with color alone … video can elicit anger, awe, compassion and even tears.

One of our artist friends said that art is only the paper or paint or wood with which an object is made. The reaction to the work by people who are observing, be it elevating or even embarrassing, is really coming from within the person. So, we like to provoke and stand back and let the public determine what they choose to take away.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

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2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Laura Ross

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I love my job. My job as communications director at the Kentucky Arts Council allows me to integrate my personal interest — the arts — with my work, in a way that I get to do what I love. I have the opportunity to talk with and write about artists, arts supporters, leaders of arts organizations and people who just generally love the arts. And I get to do it every day!

In the next three weeks, I’m inviting you to read excerpts from the conversations I had with recipients of the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts. I conducted these interviews to obtain information for the event program and wanted to share bits and pieces that didn’t make the program but were equally important.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading about the recipients’ work in the arts, in their own words. I certainly enjoyed interviewing each and every one, and feel I learned a lot along the way about how art can influence the world. And to think – I didn’t even have to leave the state.

The Governor’s Awards in the Arts ceremony is at 10 a.m. Oct. 29 at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. We hope you’ll join us. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read extra quotes you won’t find here.

Laura Ross, Artist Award

Laura Ross, of Prospect, Ky., has shared her work as a potter for nearly 30 years with the American public through exhibits and shows, as a college and high school educator, and as a successful professional artist. Ross’ sense of design, composition, use of color and pattern has influenced many of her contemporaries throughout the southeastern U.S. and beyond.

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Kentucky Arts Council: What has influenced your work over the years?

Laura Ross: I guess just looking at other potters whose work I like so much. I do like that Asian aesthetic, that very minimal aesthetic. And the longer I work the simpler I want my forms to be, my pieces to be. So I’m drawn to pots and potters with focus on pure forms, very simple forms. Potters that have strong bones to their pots. Structural integrity to their pots. Not pots that are really brightly colored or have cutesy things all over them. And to me those quiet, simpler pots are like that. I like very circular round lines and shapes. I think that reveals a love of nature. I think because most of everything in nature is rounded or curvy, linear, or asymmetrical. I like the accidental. That bit of imperfection in a pot. I guess that’s fairly Asian — the beauty and the imperfection.

KAC: Obviously your work is well-known throughout the country and the southeast United States especially. Can you talk about your early successes and how it changed your career?

LR: I think that’s what led me toward quitting a full-time job as a teacher and being an independent potter. I had quite a bit of success in those first shows I went out to. And those are national shows. That’s when people from all over the country come into these craft shows, it’s all American craft. Everything in the show is handmade. I did that for 13 or 15 years. Your name does get out there when you’re on that national level. You’re selling to 50 states plus some in Europe. When I was doing that, a lot of people in Louisville didn’t even know what I was doing. I was out all of the time. When I stopped I wanted to create more of a regional presence, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on the past 10 years. I think there’s a lot of merit to being rooted right here in this state, this region, this city. We have a lot of pottery lovers right here. We have a huge amount of artists in our state. So, it’s kind of an about face in many ways.

KAC: It sounds like you did it backwards.

LR: It does. I probably did. I probably did.

KAC: Did that surprise you, your success at the national shows?

LR: It did. It really did. All you do is work. You just work, work, work to get all those orders out. But it was exciting. I was much younger then. People would be standing in line at the shows. It was a different time. The economy made a lot of difference. The aisles would be full of buyers. I really loved it. I loved it for a long time. And you gotta go when it’s there. You gotta go with it.

KAC: You wanted to focus on the region more. Why was that important to you to do that?

LR: I wanted people to know who I was and what I’m about and what I’m doing out here. In pottery you’re making hundreds, if not thousands, of pots a year. I’m a pretty fast worker, probably from all of those years of wholesaling. You’ve got to do something with them. You’ve got to move them out. It depends on what avenue you choose to get them out there. So that would be one thing.

I just want to make pots and make the best pots I can. I like the process of working. And I know from being in somewhat of a national setting, I know what it takes to keep all that going. It’s a lot of traveling around and making appearances and I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to stay home and stay in the studio. You have to figure out how to make that work. And what made it work for me was teaching classes. Teaching classes, having a few regional shows, so I can stay home. I mean, I live on the river. It’s enjoyable being right here.

KAC: Do you have a favorite of your work?

LR: I like the soda-fired pots I make now. I think my work is conducive with the firing. To me they’re melding better. My forms, with the soda, they complement each other. With this type of firing I can get a little brighter colors. I kind of was ready for a little brighter color and I can get that with the soda kiln. I can’t woodfire anymore, (the work is) just too hard. That’s a young person’s firing. This is all I can handle and I’m very pleased with it. So I’m going to stay here for a while.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit. I’ve been living on this river for almost 20 years now. You have to probably live on a river to understand this. The river does play a big, important part of my life. I can’t imagine not living on the river. There is a steadiness – the river is moving all the time, it’s a constant moving, so there is a constancy in that moving all the time. And there is a rhythm and a pattern. And I relate it to the rhythm of working in clay, my rhythms in the studio. I’ve got a certain way of working. You come in, you’re making pots, you’re letting them dry, you’re trimming them, you’re glazing and you’re firing. There is a constant rhythm there. Plus, the river is very peaceful. There is an incredible peacefulness living on the river. It’s bigger than we are. You’re more connected with nature, I think. It sounds trite, but it’s very true. The river is a big part of my life.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Things to know: 2012 Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipients

2012 Governor's Award sculpture

The 2012 Governor’s Award was created by Louisville artist Mark Needham.

October is National Arts and Humanities month and the Kentucky Arts Council has several events that coincide with the month-long celebration. One of those is the Governor’s Awards in the Arts at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Capitol Rotunda, Frankfort. Arts council staff has been planning for the day for some time. As I have only been part of the staff for about five months, it has been an interesting process to participate in and observe.

As communications director, my main role in planning for the event was writing biographies for the awards program. For me, a former journalist and naturally inquisitive person who enjoys learning how other people live, work and play, this was a great assignment.

The 2012 award recipients are pretty fascinating. I wanted to take a moment to share with you a few facts about each recipient. In case you can’t make it to the awards ceremony next week, you can still know a little about your fellow Kentuckians.

Milner Award – William G. Francis, Prestonsburg: Mr. Francis and his wife, Linda Sadler Francis, have been major supporters of Jenny Wiley Theatre for more than 30 years. That’s three decades of faithful support that includes fundraising, financial contributions, providing housing for countless summer-stock employees, performing administrative tasks, selling concessions, handing out umbrellas and even cleaning up the theater after storms threatened to halt productions. Wouldn’t it be great if all theaters had a William Francis?

Artist Award – Gray Zeitz, Owenton: Mr. Zeitz is the only publisher of books printed in the letterpress style in Kentucky. A friend to Kentucky authors, Mr. Zeitz is one of the only letterpress publishers in the nation to print two editions of his books – an affordable version and a special edition. He said he feels it’s important to make an affordable version so that more people will discover the beauty and art of the letterpress style.

Business Award – UK HealthCare Arts in HealthCare Program, Lexington: I’ll be honest, I’m a little biased when it comes to UK HealthCare Arts in Healthcare. I have a family member who has spent considerable time in this hospital. In turn, I have spent considerable time visiting this hospital. Art is everywhere. It offers a welcome respite from the stress that comes along with a hospital visit. I am so personally appreciative of the program. So it was great to learn the program was an integrated effort that included input from the community and employees all while keeping the needs of patients and families in mind. It also features artwork by artists from every region of Kentucky. Putting Kentucky artists to work is always a reason to cheer.

Community Arts Award – Latitude Artist Community, Lexington: In just 12 years, Latitude has made an enormous impact in its community and far beyond. Latitude is an agency without borders. It serves all people, with an emphasis on artists with disabilities. Latitude uses art to improve the lives of all it serves, best summed up in this quote from one of its founders, Bruce Burris. “The lives for many of us with disabilities are unreasonably difficult, and there are few occasions to function as a fully realized human…The arts help in this capacity, allowing us to – at the very least – share intimate potential without negative consequences and with the possibility that sharing can lead to change.”

Education Award – Christina Hartke Towell, Morehead: I’m not playing favorites, but Mrs. Hartke Towell’s story is massively impressive. She created the Lucille Caudill Little Strings Program in the Rowan County school system. More than 140 students, including elementary, middle and high school students, as well as students with disabilities, have learned how to perform as soloists, in small chamber ensembles, and in large orchestra ensembles. Mrs. Hartke Towell started the string program to encourage participation in, and instill awareness and appreciation of, string music performance. Isn’t it wonderful Kentucky has artists dedicated to creating and ensuring the future of the arts?

Folk Heritage Award – Leona Waddell, Cecilia: Mrs. Waddell has dedicated her life – and let me be clear, I mean more than 80 years – to conserving and perfecting the south central Kentucky white oak basket making tradition. She learned to make baskets as a child, with her 15 siblings, at her mother’s feet. What I found most interesting about Mrs. Waddell was her willingness to share her craft. Mrs. Waddell is known for inspiring others to excel in their own basket making and encouraging young weavers early in their careers. She has also restored basket making techniques that were once thought to be lost. Truly inspirational.

Government Award – U. S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Louisville: I could spend the whole day writing about the countless ways Congressman Yarmuth has supported and participated in the arts during his lifetime. But I’ll sum it up quickly. Congressman Yarmuth has set himself apart from other governmental arts supporters in many ways, but none more notable than by donating his congressional salary to numerous non-profit and charitable organizations, many with an arts focus like the Governor’s School for the Arts, Louisville’s Fund for the Arts and the Kentucky School of Art. Since he first ran for Congress in 2006, Yarmuth has donated more than $600,000 to such organizations.

Media Award – Jeffrey Lee Puckett, Louisville: I always enjoy a story where a person is so intent on pursuing a specific career that they will do anything to get there. Mr. Puckett, a music journalist, began his career in 1985 at The Courier-Journal, but he wasn’t writing about music. His first assignment was covering youth sports in the paper’s Neighborhoods section. Mr. Puckett was so intent on writing for the newspaper, he didn’t care much about what beat he covered. He readily admits he still doesn’t understand soccer.

National Award – Bobbie Ann Mason, Lawrenceburg: I don’t think I could possibly say anything about Ms. Mason that hasn’t been said by someone much more eloquent than me. So let me state the obvious. Ms. Mason is a true Kentucky treasure and her career is one that many use for inspiration in their own writing. What I really enjoy about the work Ms. Mason has produced during her three decades of publishing is her ability to tell the human story in a way that is relatable to readers of all tastes. If you’re a great reader and lover of literature, you know there are times you search high and low – and still come up empty-handed – for a book you can connect with. Luckily, we never have to worry about that with Bobbie Ann Mason.

Follow the links to read full biographies of each award recipient. We hope to see you on Oct. 9 at the presentation of the state’s highest honors in the arts.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

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Don’t let NAHM fall away! Creativity is in the air

I love fall. Aside from the occasional sniffles, it is a time of year where nature exposes its colorful side. Sure, there are flowers in the spring (which I love too), but there is something magical about the way green leaves suddenly turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red.

All the colors prompt me to venture into the crisp air in order to capture this brief period in the season –similar to a modern day Impressionist. I desire to photograph the leaves, press them in books (for future collages) and paint landscapes – all at the same time. I often find my mind overflowing with creativity.

There are 13 days left to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month, let’s finish our celebration with vigor!

Here are some things I plan do (and you should too!) as National Arts and Humanities Month begins to wind down:

  • Savor the harvest. This is the time of year for simmering soups, fresh-baked bread and a bountiful apple crop.

Here is a family favorite — my mom’s apple pie recipe. My favorite part is the topping!  She used to guard fresh pies from my picking hands when I was in high school.

For the pie:

1 deep-dish piecrust

6 cups sliced apples (I prefer the tart crispness of granny smiths)

½ cup sugar (or a little more if you are using tart apples)

1 ½ tbs flour

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375°. Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large, microwavable bowl. Add apples and mix thoroughly. Microwave on high for 1 minute and then stir the apple mixture. Microwave and stir again. Depending upon the crispness of your apples, you may need to repeat the microwaving/stirring one more time. You apples should be softened and a syrup should have formed in the bottom of the bowl. Place the apple mixture in the piecrust.

For the topping:

2/3 cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup butter (softened slightly)

½ cup walnuts or pecans

Combine all of the ingredients. Using a pastry blender (or a large fork), work everything into small clumps. Then pour over the apples and spread evenly. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until the topping is slightly browned. Resist the urge to consume until it has reached a safe temperature.

  • Decorate! Instructables is one of my favorite “how to” websites. You can search for decoration ideas by theme or materials. Also, it currently has an entire section dedicated to Halloween with instructions for creepy treats, jack-o-lanterns, and of course, costumes.
  • Visit a pumpkin patch. Who doesn’t love wandering through long rows seeking the perfect shape and size for your design needs? Here is a website that lists Kentucky patches by county.
  • Start knitting or crocheting your winter scarves and mittens now – the cold weather will be here before you know it.

Rachel Allen, arts education director

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Five ways to let off steam for National Arts and Humanities Month

Recent history has been trying for people who love the arts, and it has been gut-wrenching for those who have made the arts their life’s work. New economic realities and dwindling public support have made us all a little harried, haggard and even a little depressed. And sometimes enough is simply enough. It’s time to take a break and celebrate our impact and victories before we all burn out. It is October, National Arts and Humanities Month. Think of it as a month-long Friday night. You can stop the white-knuckle vigilance and have a good time. Yes, you have to go back to work on Monday (November), but for now—just like the O’Jays—we are living for the weekend. Here are five ways to unwind.
Focus” on the season

Don’t forget to stop and smell the pumpkins. This is a beautiful time of year, and there are plenty of artful things all around us courtesy of nature. Take a day trip and capture all that the season has to offer. Kudzu, Hazard Community and Technical College’s, literary magazine wants your fall photos from autumn in Appalachia. The top photo will make the cover, and the winner will receive $25. Contact for more information.

Use your talent for another great cause 

When you win your prize for top photo, you can donate your $25 to breast cancer research or awareness, as October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). You’ve worked all year to be a great advocate for the arts; take some time to use your talent for another great cause. You can find local events here.

Take a class or workshop 

Here’s an idea! You’re an artsy person, so go “do” some art. Choose an art genre you don’t feel skilled in and explore it. You can look around in your own backyard, but I can name a few places in my neck of the woods that offer Saturday classes. TheUniversity of Kentucky Fine Arts Institute offers non-credit art classes for adults. There are still some workshops in drawing, painting and molding and casting left on their fall schedule. The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning offers topics such Writing Your Life, Writing Narrative and Prose Poems and Public Speaking for Writers.

If you want to learn about the “business” of being an artist, join the arts council for three arts conferences in Lexington, Eddyville and Somerset. 

Get involved in a project 

If you’re ready to submerge instead just get your feet wet, you can use this month as a catalyst for submitting to a project. The Art House Co-op has been doing Sketchbook projects for several years now. To take part, you sign up, pick a theme and send $25 (another good use for your winnings). They will then send you a high quality journal to sketch on that theme for a few months. Send it back by the deadline, and your book along with thousands of other sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums on a world tour. All books will then retire to the permanent, public collection of The Brooklyn Art Library.

Tell Everyone What You’re Doing 

If you represent an arts organization—and you are doing  programming that celebrates the season—post an entry on Americans for the Arts’ National Arts and Humanities Month Calendar.

Lastly, if you do nothing else this month (after all, it is your break), make sure you celebrate and shout your successes from the rooftops. If you don’t, no one else will either! Join us as we shout the successes of nine recipients of the Kentucky Governor’s Awards in the Arts on Oct. 20, 2011, in the Capitol Rotunda.

See you back at work in November!

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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