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Yvonne Petkus, "Tensile/Release", oil on canvas, 42" x 42" x 2", 2020
Studio Visit: Yvonne Petkus
Natalie Weis' portrait of Yvonne Petkus and her art reveals an intensely focused artist and work of layered psychological complexity. Petkus tells Weis:

“My work has always been about what we carry in our bodies, the residues of trauma and abuse that we carry,” she says. “Not the hit or the blow or the psychological abuse in the moment, but how it feels ten years later, 15 years later, 30 years later. And the way I paint is about finding that – finding what emerges in each scenario from that sense of what we carry.”


Patrick Smith, “Armani II”, 2018, acrylic on Arches paper, 15 x 12.75
A Review: Good Paintings of Bad Bitches

The uncanny realism of Patrick Smith's portraits are explored in two concurrent shows in Lexington. Contributing writer Cooper Gibson writes:

"The timelessness and the timeliness of Smith’s work are their strongest qualities. Smith’s paintings utilize the tools of the masters to question the very hierarchies that created mastery. His subjects exhibit agency, a self-directedness. They dare the viewer to not only look, but to see them as the fierce bitches they are. Most importantly they challenge subjectivity. Whose image should be painted? As Smith’s figures take on poses from classical paintings, they insert themselves into history – often in places where they would not be allowed."
Photo: Fire Island Pines Historical Preservation Society
The Legacy of Lige
Jonathan Coleman, founder and director of the Faulkner Morgan Archive, is interviewed for WEKU's Eastern Standard by Stephanie Lang, editor of the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, about Elijah "Lige" Clark, an early LGBTQ activist from Hindman, Kentucky.
Yay, 2021! UnderMain 2020 In Review. Oh, wait.

We were prepared to leave 2020 and its awfulness behind. But...well, you know.

UnderMain has worked hard to keep its portion of arts and culture writing alive. We started the year with a piece by Walter Tunis covering the live music beat, and a studio visit with John Brooks by Miranda Lash. Walter will be back when live in-person music revives. Miranda, former Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed has, alas, moved on to Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art. We wish her the best.

At UnderMain World Headquarters we were determined to keep it going. We published invited essays about the art world after COVID. We kept you informed about initiatives to sustain artists and art organizations. We published this piece about an art teacher fabricating PPE during those dire days of extreme shortages. The year saw us ramping up our literary coverage, such as this review by new UnderMain contributor Tom Eblen of Fenton Johnson's new book.

While we had to cancel Critical Mass in March, Co-Publisher Christine Huskisson did manage to catch up with Koan Jeff Baysa for his take on the Kentucky visual arts ecosystem. And of course we kept the visual arts reviews of gallery and museum shows coming, including this review by Peter Morrin of the stellar Anne Peabody show at Moremen Gallery, and Kevin Nance's take on the provocative exhibition, "This is America*", up at UK's Art Museum.

Despite the obstacles posed by a plague, our wonderful cadre of contributing writers managed to keep our Studio Visit series active in 2020. This piece by Sarah Hoskins about Lacy Hale from Whitesburg, Kentucky, reflects UnderMain's commitment to dig deeper into parts of the arts and culture world that get too little attention in print or digital media. In this newsletter you can find the link to our first 2021 Studio Visit piece, written by Natalie Weis reflecting on her visit with Yvonne Petkus.

We are thankful for you, our readers, and your words of support. We are very grateful for the continued support of the Great Meadows Foundation. We are all too mindful of the price that 2020 exacted in lives and health and personal well-being for so, so many people. And the many ugly truths fully exposed. And the strength of community and collective action. The arts have much to say about our world and we will continue to show a bit of that.

Please stay safe. Please stay strong.

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