When Heather Drury entered Bellarmine University to study painting, she wasnâ€™t thinking that her journey would lead her to studying and teaching Japanese culture at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road.
But here she is today, managing StudioWorks, the working art production space and public gallery side of nonprofit Zoom Group. Itâ€™s the inspired way Zoom Group illustrates and practices its mission: To help adults with developmental disabilities choose their vocation and reach their full potential.
â€œLand Marks,â€ opening Friday evening, is the latest group art show at StudioWorks. This exhibition is focused on recent landscape art created by the studioâ€™s regular artists, expressed in several different forms â€“ realistic or abstract, fiber or paintings or bowls.
Bowls? â€œTheyâ€™re Japanese tea bowls inspired by the idea of wabi-sabi, finding beauty in imperfections,â€ Drury says. â€œTheyâ€™re really awesome.â€
They spent a week taking lessons on Japanese culture and art, which introduced the concept of the ceramic tea bowls to their curious students. â€œThey have very earth-toned glazes; theyâ€™re super, super gorgeous. Almost every artist made one.â€
StudioWorks employs five staff members, all of whom have some knowledge of major art forms. Guest teachers also add to the studentsâ€™ knowledge base. â€œWe all have our strengths and weaknesses, but we all have some sort of background,â€ says Drury.
One of the artists featured in â€œLand Marksâ€ is painter Mary Lea Hall. â€œShe was doing more abstract, color-blocked kind of things, this really interesting series inspired by Oriental rugs for a little while,â€ Drury says. â€œSheâ€™s never really done a lot of realism â€¦ [Lately] sheâ€™s done this really great 180 where sheâ€™s shown so much growth in her painting; sheâ€™s learning new techniques and itâ€™s just mind-blowing. She has two paintings featured â€“ actually, her painting is featured on our [promotional] card, which is awesome â€“ so I was excited to be able to give her the opportunity.â€
â€œI think thatâ€™s one of the things I like about this show,â€ she continues. â€œA lot of people do landscapes all the time, but thereâ€™s a couple of artists – Micah Chandler, who Iâ€™m sure you know â€“ that have grown a whole lot in the last year or so, and the landscapes have been what theyâ€™ve been drawn to.â€
A few of the artists who spend their days at StudioWorks have achieved a level of recognition around Louisville, including pop culture painter Chimel Ford and realist Micah Chandler. The latterâ€™s recognition comes not only from his work but also from the fact that he is impossible to miss at seemingly every event in town.
Do their artists influence each other? Like anywhere else, Drury says, â€œSome do and some donâ€™t. I think some artists are pretty set in their ways, what theyâ€™re doing and how they do it, which is super awesome. But then thereâ€™s a lot of people who are far more open to learning new things, who are looking over other peopleâ€™s shoulders to figure out what is going on. And thereâ€™s a whole group in particular that seems to really feed off of each other â€“ and itâ€™s really interesting because itâ€™s everyoneâ€™s own style and take on whatever the subject matter might be.â€
â€œWe certainly try to promote the artists to work together and to collaborate, if possible. But also, if somebodyâ€™s strong in one area, to try to share that with other people.â€
The common ground provided by recent interest in landscapes helped assemble the current show. It was also a nicely convenient way to highlight a few of the dozens of artists who come through StudioWorks. â€œSometimes when you just do a few people here and a few people there, it will be years before somebody has a chance to show something,â€ Drury says. â€œSo we try to throw group shows when we can, and this year has been a pretty big year for that so far. The growth that weâ€™ve seen this year, itâ€™s like, â€˜We have to show this somewhere because itâ€™s so great!â€™ Itâ€™s been really awesome to see peopleâ€™s transformations with art.â€ VT
â€œLand Marksâ€ runs from June 26 through August 21 at 2008 Eastern Parkway. The opening reception will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, with special guest The Comfy Cow providing ice cream.