The vibrant mural painted beneath a bridge; the giant golden statue towering over West Main Street. We see these works of art, yet we rarely pause during our busy lives to reflect on these masterpieces and the people who created them.
However, with the new exhibit, “The Rites of Passage: A Celebration of Louisville Artists,” you’ll have the chance to stop and admire the great beauty of Louisville’s art scene and the men and women who have brought it to life.
Beginning in June and running through Sept. 6, Kaviar Forge & Gallery, 1718 Frankfort Ave., will display “Rites of Passage” by figurative and portrait artist Sharon Matisoff, who began working on the exhibit two years ago after she produced a portrait of Craig Kaviar.
“I brought the pictures in and I showed Craig, and he fell in love with the pastel (piece),” Matisoff said. “And he said, ‘How would you feel about doing a show?’ I tried not to scream because I was so excited! This is what I really wanted to do!”
From that moment, Sharon and her husband, Marty, embarked on a collaboration, selecting various local artists of national and international acclaim. They then visited each of these artists to snap photos of them, both posed and candid.
The couple shot 35 to 50 photos of each artist, from which Matisoff created one oil and one pastel portrait, showcasing the person in his or her own environment.
In all, the Forge gallery features 31 of Matisoff’s paintings, one of which is a self-portrait she created three years ago. Her husband built each of the frames encapsulating the portraits.
I visited the gallery the other day to check out the new exhibit. As I observed each piece, I could easily distinguish the personality of each artist portrayed in the process of his or her craft. Not only that, but I began to understand the emotional connection he or she had to art.
But it was Matisoff whose passion for her work was most obvious as she walked through the gallery, explaining each of her pieces. Her voice radiated fervor and immense dedication to her exhibit. “When you paint a person, I feel like you own just a tiny little bit of them,” Matisoff said. “They become part of you. I can’t feel that way about still lifes or landscapes or anything else. But it’s people that I really get excited about.”
Matisoff has said that when a portrait is done well, her painting looks like the subject or subjects, but also has more energy, life and drama. The image is compelling, and the viewer desires to know what the subject is thinking or learn more about his or her background.
I never thought much about it before visiting the gallery, but as I analyzed each portrait, I began to appreciate how much artists care and labor over their work. And yet, some of us don’t think much past the superficial quality of a sculpture or painting to acknowledge the amount of effort that went into making these pieces.
Walking away from the gallery, I felt excitement and gratitude for the local artists who live and work in Louisville. I didn’t know many of them before I had seen their portraits, and I still haven’t met them personally. But after exploring the gallery and listening to Matisoff recall the process of completing her exhibit, I felt a connection to these people and their contribution to our art scene.
Now, when I see the vibrant mural painted beneath a bridge or the giant golden statue towering over West Main Street, I’ll stop to remember those artists portrayed in “Rites of Passage.” I’ll appreciate how much these people treasure their craft and how much they’ve sacrificed as artists. I won’t just casually look on when I see their artwork on display; I’ll look deeper at the significance of how these people have helped improve the beauty of Louisville.
Kaviar Forge & Gallery will host an artist’s reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 29. Matisoff will be present at the event for a meet and greet with the public.
For more information, visit www.craigkaviar.com.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org>, 502.498.2051.
1718 Frankfort Ave.
June 6 though Sept. 6
Wednesday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
During Frankfort Avenue F.A.T. Fridays, 6 to 9 p.m. on June 29, July 27 and Aug. 31.