Visual Arts

Rich Copley: Visual arts in Lexington will see plenty of change in 2015

Transylvania University professors Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde launched the Lexington Tattoo Project in 2013. The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky will exhibit photos from the project.
Transylvania University professors Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde launched the Lexington Tattoo Project in 2013. The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky will exhibit photos from the project. Lexington Herald-Leader

Some of Lexington's higher-profile art venues are going through a touch of shape-shifting, which should make the local arts interesting to watch in 2015.

The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky has always been somewhat profile-challenged, tucked into the corner of the Singletary Center for the Arts. But it is one of the largest, if not the largest, visual arts venues in town, and new director Stuart Horodner continues to reimagine that space as we enter 2015. Just like September, January will be a month of multiple openings, with four shows scheduled to bow Jan. 24.

They include the latest entry in the museum's signature Robert C. May photography lecture series, with Jordan-born and Texas-educated Tanya Habjouqa's photos documenting issues in the Middle East.

Also opening will be Same Difference, a show dedicated to the work of three acclaimed studio artists — Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh and Russell Maltz — and two shows with a distinctly local flair: an exhibit of photos from the Lexington Tattoo Project — a 2013 collaboration between visual artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova and poet Bianca Spriggs — and lithographs of Edward Troye's celebrated 19th-century paintings of Thoroughbreds.

The exhibits play to a number of Horodner's intentions, including more local interaction, showing more of the museum's permanent collection, and bringing in work by cutting-edge artists.

Perhaps the highest-profile art venue in Lexington the past decade has been the Downtown Art Center's Ann Tower Gallery, which will take on a new shape this year as the gallery's two floors are split between the Tower gallery on the second floor and the City Gallery on the first. The new configuration is set to debut Jan. 16, at the first Gallery Hop of 2015.

Downtown Arts Center director Celeste Lewis said the City Gallery will feature a diverse selection of Lexington-area artists. Ann Tower will continue to exhibit works from her clients in her consolidated space.

For its annual Art Gala, the Lexington Art League will put the spotlight on Main Street's new visual arts venue, the 21c Museum Hotel (, scheduled to open late this year. The Gala, held in the reconfigured Loudoun House, is to feature video installations from the collection of 21c owners Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, Kentucky sculptor Melissa Vandenberg, and works by the Expanded Draught collective, which is behind much of last fall's Interstruct installations.

Lexington's art scene is gallery-oriented, and a number of galleries are set to come out of the gate with interesting shows:

  • Transylvania University's Morlan Gallery features an exhibit by Texas sculptor and photographer Libby Rowe contemplating notions of home.
  • MS Rezny Studio Gallery in the Distillery District opens the year with Lens-less, an exhibit of photographic works that were not captured using lenses.
  • The Living Arts and Science Center starts the year with a fun show: Afterimage, exploring the phenomenon of staring at an object and then looking at a white field and seeing a negative of that image. Several area artists were invited to participate in this show. LASC is another venue undergoing major changes after launching a $5 million building project last year. The expansion and renovation should be completed later this year.
  • As always, Lexington is host to numerous high-profile visual arts events during the year, including Kentucky Crafted, The Market in March, the Art League's Woodland Art Fair in August, and the PRHBTN street-art fair in the fall. The latter has altered the public art landscape of Lexington as much as any project, although it also stumbled into some controversy last fall with the Distillery District mural by MTO.

    Who knows how things will look this time next year?