Rhonda Bristol Art

15th African American Art Exhibition at the Actors Theatre of Louisville
Jan. 29 - March 1, 2009

Louisville, Kentucky: February 6 - 10, 2009
Marriott Courtyard, Louisville, KY: February 11, 2009

photo of artists and friends at Louisville art exhibit

The Opening Reception of the African American Art Exhibition was phenomenal. The exhibited work was outstanding! I was proud to be included. I'm already thinking 'bout what I can paint and sculpt for a chance of being a prize winner in 2010. We are blessed. We were included in the innermost circle - somewhat due .. in part, to New York style of maneuvering - done without shame ... for I'm on a mission.

We left the Reception and were driven to Joe's Place. We quickly sat around, hastily assembled, tables and talked Art and trash! Kevin sat in the Power Seat. Walter and I were across from him and a bit to the left of center. Bob Douglas sat on Kevin's right and the evening flowed. Ariston Jacks sat on Kevin's left. Ariston has been heralded as the next John Biggers. He's a good artist, soulful and strong. Kevin has taken quite an interest in him - but did not ignore me and also asked about and included Glendia. Hours passed. People drifted in and out. Ed Hamilton came, danced and left, but not without setting up a studio visit for Monday. Bob Douglas will share time with us in his studio on Monday too.

Saturday was the art lecture program: Art as Business. Totally Excellent! Totally worth the expense of the plane tickets and hotel in and of itself! Kevin Cole, Ed Hamilton, Eugene Turner, and Dr. Robert Douglas spoke. Off to the Wayside Gallery with the same crew as the night before and then to lunch with Kevin and crew at Toast on Main. More Art ingestion, dissection and verbal creation. We were all in hog heaven. Kevin and Walter traded names and info on the Atlanta art scene... back-in-the-day. Bob's great grandchild amused herself at the foot of the table and used the available crayons to completely transform her place-mat. She is a beautiful girl, happy to be with her great granddad and absolutely up to dealing with adults in conversation. She chattered happily while walking to the car. Her personality and presence belied her age.

Sunday was slow and nap-filled. We finally got back around to the Actor's Theatre and could really see all of the wonderful art in the show. We spoke with other art lovers and made more contacts. We discussed the politics of art - the direction of the artists -what could possibly be done for JCAAA (Jacksonville Consortium of African - American Artists) - and could what we saw, experienced and craved, be transplanted to Jacksonville. We spoke of Atlanta, of lost friends, of set-aside dreams and revisited interests. 'Looavil's' cocoon was warm and supportive. We both realized how much we missed a nurturing environment. Who would have known? Louisville? Yeah Right! But so very right.

Monday A.M. - a trolley ride to Toast. No Dice! Toast was closed. Several quick phone calls and walking directions...then on to Ed's studio. Sheer Genius! True humility and graciousness. This man's talent and vision is amazing. We viewed videos of TV programs, visits to his studio, and viewed examples of his public art projects. We walked and talked with greatness. Ed is small, unassuming and learned. Ed shared his problem-solving skills then walked us upstairs to Bob's studio. He then graciously withdrew leaving us in Bob's hands and space.

Ed reappeared, about an half hour later, and took us all to The Foundry... a yellow complex of buildings near the river, close to the car impound lot. We saw pieces of his 'Spirit of Freedom' cast and being prepared. The unveiling ceremony will be held on the 4th of June 2009.

Bob took us to lunch. Ed had to return to complete tasks he set aside to accommodate us. Bob is a chronicler and philosopher. Bob paints, sculpts, teaches and preaches. Bob is giving, caring and responsible. He is probably the pillar of strength in his family unit. Bob is a Louisville native and has lived his/its history. His life is rich and he freely gave his knowledge to enrich us.

'Looavil' has us encapsulated in an Art Bubble, and we bounced and shimmered and reflected on what we saw and who we were with. It was more than good. We belonged! We were accepted. We were made welcome. 'Looavil' lives Art. Art is on the streets, on the trolley cars.... on buildings... in the very air.

I hope that this gives you some idea of just how exciting this whole experience was.