Collectors Circle Trip to Lexington, Kentucky

By CC Member Marcia Unger

The Collectors Circle arrived in “Horse Country” on a Thursday afternoon. We stayed at the 21C Museum Hotel which was quite fun and housed some very neat contemporary art. We had a welcome dinner at the hotel that evening, it was a great way to meet and get acquainted with one another.

On Friday morning we were invited to breakfast at the home of University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto. Dr. Capilouto and his wife Mary Lynn are Birmingham natives. We were also introduced to Stuart Horodner, Director of the University of Kentucky Art Museum, who became a wonderful guide throughout our time in Lexington. Mr. Horodner introduced us to a number of working artists in the Lexington area, including Ebony Patterson, whose colorful work explores constructions of the masculine within popular culture, and uses Jamaican dancehall culture as a platform for her work. Ebony’s work largely consists of wall pieces constructed with found materials, beads, drawings, paper, and more. She is currently preparing for an upcoming exhibition at the Perez Art Museum in Miami this year. Ebony’s piece among the weeds, plants, and peacock feathers is currently on view at the BMA as part of the Third Space exhibition.

We also visited the University of Kentucky Art Museum and toured a special exhibition of work by American sculptor and painter Alison Saar. The exhibition focused on the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. The objects were extremely compelling and one could not figure out if the figures in the works were dancing or struggling for their lives. Her work appears in several prestigious museums, as well as many private collections. We also viewed the work of photographer, writer, and art historian Teju Cole. His recent exhibition, Blind Spot and Black Paper, links images of public and private spaces with prose in a glancing poetic manner. We later heard a lecture on his work at the UK Lecture Hall.

On Saturday, we visited the home and studio of Bob Jones. His work consists of sculptural pieces from found materials. The objects are based on personal experiences and are humorous as well as serious and quite interesting in the way he manipulates the materials. His home studio was filled with all of his artistic materials and one has to wonder how he became comfortable with some of the macabre pieces that are housed there. We also visited the Heike Pickett Gallery featuring the work of two Lexington artists, Lawrence Tarpy and Steve Armstrong. Tarpy creates images utilizing a combination of encaustic oil painting and graphite. He develops his own process of creating a fertile environment for his images to grow and reveal themselves. Armstrong’s work is based on kinetic constructions often referred to as “automata.” They are charged with personal symbolic content and his preferred material is yellow poplar as it is easily available and allows him to create buttery carving details.

Our final excursion was to the mayor’s home, which was filled with the work of many renowned contemporary artists, including Claes Oldenburg, Richard Long, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Mapplethorpe, Gerhard Richter, and many others. It was, to say the least, amazing to see so many fine artists in a home setting. Overall, the trip was magnificent and one we won’t soon forget.