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Ancient Stars, New Constellations
Physician and cultural worker Kóan Jeff Baysa finds a glimmer of hope for an art world that emerges from the pandemic. He writes:

"This pandemic offers widespread opportunities to reconfigure ancient stars into new constellations by which to navigate our future, for humanity’s survival lies not in perseverative behavior, but in how resiliently we respond to and look beyond these tragedies…or not."
'Ballot Box' Isn't Closed
A Louisville project to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Bill and curated by artist Skylar Smith (read our studio visit piece) has not been without hurdles and controversy about the use of city kiosks for the project.

"BallotBox uses art as a catalyst for community engagement with new work by five artists. Through an intersectional lens, these artists examine issues related to voting rights, democracy, and citizenship."

The Art World After COVID and After the Murder of George Floyd: In Poem and Prose

When COVID hit, Lexington artist, poet, and musician John Lackey rolled up his lontgime Homegrown Press studio and moved it all back home. His poignant words in poem and prose about the moments we are in are worth reading.

"...Our children empty into the streets to demand racial justice,
Racial equality, an end to the crushing status quo, and they
Can see much more clearly than we ever have, we are
All just people. The system is getting a much needed
Overhaul. The world is crushed and compacted and
The people try to hold on, much like the art world.

And, much like the art world, I imagine that the
Upper echelons will continue to be just a little
More bullet-proof than those creative folks
On the ground, in the trenches, making do."

And then, boom! Pandemic
Broadway veterans Robin Irwin (Titanic) and Erick Buckley (Addams Family) relocated to Pikeville, Kentucky, one year ago in search of a quality lifestyle and an opportunity to boost Eastern Kentucky’s game in theatre and performance. Then a pandemic struck. Irwin and Buckley discussed the consequences (by phone, of course) with UnderMain’s Tom Martin for his WEKU program, Eastern Standard.

Black Lives Matter in an America that has enacted 400 years of brutality and violence against, and subjugation, systemic discrimination, and mass incarceration of Black people. The form of this continuing violation of essential human rights has changed over time but not the malevolent purpose that lies alongside the high aspirations at the heart of the American experiment.

Kara Walker has been exploring issues of race, gender, sexuality, and violence in her work for decades.
Image by New York Times
In 2018 she produced a calliope for installation at Algiers Point on the Mississippi River in New Orleans, a site of the pens that held the enslaved Africans who were then ferried across the river to the French Quarter, where they would be sold into a lifetime of slavery. Here is a link to the powerful video about the project produced by Art21.

Many arts and cultural institutions and organizations have written pledges to self-evaluate and address inherent and overt prejudice and bias in their systems and structures. UnderMain was started as a creative project by three longtime participants in and supporters of the arts with a mission to provide free coverage of the arts and culture of our region. Our project has not been immune to our own unconscious prejudices when doing this work. We must do better, and pledge to assertively seek out writers and content in the Black community and other underrepresented communities. Because the arts are an incredibly powerful channel with which to address the burning problems we in America have such a difficult time facing.

Congratulations to our friends at CivicLex, the Lexington-based civic education project, for receiving a grant from the NEA to embed three Fayette County artists in the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. The purpose is to bring critical and creative perspectives to how government operates and delivers services to its constituents. CivicLex partnered on the grant with the Urban County Government and the Bluegrass Community Foundation.

Coming soon! Our plan to increase our coverage of the literary arts is moving ahead with reviews of books and work, for the most part by Kentucky authors. We will also have audio interviews produced by our partners at WEKU's Eastern Standard.

Still on deck for this summer is a renovation of our website and we are exploring ways we can resume our studio visit series and reviews of exhibitions and shows now that arts and cultural organizations are reopening on a limited basis.

Stay safe!

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