February 24, 2010

Inbox — Feb. 24, 2010

Letters to the Editor

Correction

Last week’s story “Old dog, new tricks” incorrectly identified the breed of Angela and Jim O’Neill’s confiscated dogs, which are in fact bulldogs. LEO regrets the error.

Good Intentions

A few points need clarification about my quotes in “Bologna by any other name” in the Feb. 10 LEO Weekly.

Although I have shown the work of local artists on occasion, this is not the primary focus of my gallery. I feel that showing, representing and promoting local artists is the province of the other local galleries, and I do not wish to be in competition with them. These local gallery owners make their living doing this, and they are in a much better position than I to give the local artists the promotion and representation they richly deserve. Because I make my living as an attorney, I am not able to devote the time necessary to do this. My mission as a collector and gallery owner is to bring to Louisville the work of photographers from around the world, with national and international reputations, who are creating what I feel is some of the finest photographic artwork being done today.

My gallery was also created to be a resource to local photographers, artists, educators, students and collectors to allow them to view original artworks of significant artistic and historic importance, which normally could be seen only in New York, Los Angeles or similar cities. And while I only occasionally show the work of local artists, I am a consistent purchaser of their artwork and a strong supporter of their interests.

It is also important to clarify that although I disagree with “Louisville 27,” I am and always have been a fan and supporter of the Speed. I have no doubt that their intentions were good, but the message as perceived by hundreds of artists in the community was very different from what the Speed probably intended.

Even though I disagree with what they did, I support the Speed and think it is one of the finest art organizations in the region. And I believe the artists of “Speed? Baloney!” feel the same way. They disagreed with an event and what was communicated to the public, and responded in a humorous, creative and sincere way. In doing so, they showed a concern and commitment to addressing problems without animosity or antagonism. It is, after all, possible to disagree with an organization you love, and the artists have done this in an intelligent and light-hearted manner, which underscores their value to this community as a core group in its creative class.

Paul Paletti Jr., Downtown

Misguided Meat

In response to Dominic Russ’ article regarding the Speed Museum’s “Louisville 27: Community” — As an artist here in Louisville, I must confess I submitted neither art nor bologna to the Speed’s “27” open call. While I sympathize with my peers and their frustration over the under-representation of local art at the Speed, I feel their efforts and energy in this “baloney protest” are misguided. Dropping off a box of deli meats is not the way to engage our city’s premier visual arts institution.

The Speed’s “27: Community” was open to anyone — artists and amateurs alike — to participate in the Art After Dark event. The call for submissions was clearly not intended to create a serious exhibition exclusively for artists. With the Art After Dark events, as part of its awkward interim phase before their planned renovation, the Speed is vying for a larger audience at the museum. I believe this is generally a good move but indicative of two impulses. On the one hand, its appeal to a younger crowd, such as Wax Fang performing in the Medieval gallery, and on the other, the populist impulse: Check out the current Holiday Inn-like revamp of its permanent collection, with its homogenized interior as well as the bland linear presentation of its art.

Yes, the Speed is in transition, but it must take this opportunity to engage more fully in what this city and its artists are here to offer. The recent series of lectures and panel discussions by local artists is a significant improvement. However, much more needs to be done.

With it less likely for a contemporary art museum to emerge in Louisville, the Speed should take the lead in establishing a regular platform for the abundance of innovative local contemporary artists. Look to any of our neighboring cities — Cincinnati, Indianapolis or even Chicago — particularly the MCA’s 12-by-12 series dedicated to its own local artists. In lieu of the Speed’s upcoming renovation, why not provide a gallery or project space for our artists? I recommend a quarterly series of solo or group exhibitions to coincide with the ongoing dialogue between artists, the museum and the public. This would enhance the presence of not only local artists and their work, but of the visual arts in this community.

If all else fails, next time forget the bologna — let’s see how they install Benedictine!

Sarah C. Lleguin, Crescent Hill

Here’s a Tissue

I’ve always thought the Speed to be the perfect museum for our little city: third-rate and decades behind the times. After the $27 imbroglio, I’m happy to see that our vaunted gallery scene is an equal match.

Having done my share of $20 art shows and donations to worthy causes, I’ve learned the magic word. It’s called no.

We may not really be a world-class city, but we’re certainly home to some world-class crybabies. I mean, did none of you read the prospectus? Were you all that clueless that this was just a fun little benefit for the museum’s children’s programs, with children encouraged to participate. I imagine the Speed wasn’t prepared to catch the attention of so many adult children.

My favorite part of this story was the final paragraph, where Paul Paletti admits his gallery doesn’t hang a local thing. See, that’s “not my mandate. I bring in work of national and international reputations who are technical masters of what they do.”

Oh? Huh. That sounds like a museum’s mandate. I wasn’t even aware galleries had mandates. Mission statements, directions, niches, sure. But mandates? I would’ve thought that if a local gallery could be said to have a mandate, it would be the obvious one of seeking out and nurturing local talent. Guess I was mistaken; glad to get that cleared up.

I’d like to extend a big bravo! to the Speed for having the sense of humor (turning the other slice) to hang all the baloney. Kinda showed what the real baloney was all about, didn’t it?

Douglas Maxson, Deer Park

Lend an Ear

A friend recently invited me to join the Save ear X-tacy group on Facebook. Upon noticing the overwhelming number of people in this group, I couldn’t help but wonder just how many of them actually purchase at the store regularly. Considering the economic blow that the store is suffering from, one must assume that at least some of these “saviors” are in fact just “savers” who do their music shopping at places like Borders, Best Buy and even Wal-Mart. Regardless, here’s an idea: Why don’t the 26,500-plus members of this group commit to purchasing $20 (or more if they so desire) worth of merchandise from ear X-tacy? If we’re going to save the store, we must not be stagnant phonies but active supporters.

Douglas Lucas, Highlands

Make Change

It was such an honor to stand with my brothers and sisters to put an end to mountain top removal mining at I Love Mountains Day in Frankfort last week. Applause and appreciation goes out to the good folks at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth who successfully brought us together despite the rather chilly temperatures.

The power and importance of this gathering was embodied for me in the call and response chant: “Show me what democracy looks like/This is what democracy looks like!” Exactly! We may need to be reminded that while going to the polls and voting is an important component of democratic participation, our responsibility does not end there.

While we have elected a president under the hope and promise of change, it is now our duty to not just hold him and the rest of our duly elected representatives accountable, but we must also give them the political capital to make the changes necessary to create the peaceful, socially just and environmentally sustainable community we want.

If we want a government for, of and by the people, then we are going to have to demand it — demand it clearly, visibly and peacefully. And at times, we must even be willing to respond to the call to engage in civil disobedience.

If we want a government for, of and by the people, we are going to have set aside all excuses, stand together and remind ourselves and our government that “this is what democracy looks like.”

Mark Steiner, St. Matthews