Where Paradise Lay - Art and Southern Sanctuary : GoToLouisville.com Official Travel Source





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Jul 10th

Where Paradise Lay - Art and Southern Sanctuary

  • Location: KMAC Museum
  • 715 W. Main St.
  • Louisville, Kentucky 40202

Where Paradise Lay - Art and Southern Sanctuary

recurring event

Where Paradise Lay is an exhibition that takes inspiration from the book "Walks to the Paradise Garden," written by the poet, founder of the Jargon Society, and Black Mountain College alum, Jonathan Williams. Nearly thirty years after its completion in 1992, Institute 193 in Lexington, Kentucky published the text and images that chronicled Williams’ periodic journeys in the 1980’s and early 90’s with photographers Guy Mendes and Roger Manley as they searched for artists who, in Williams’ words, “live on the heath, amid the rhododendron and laurel and heather and sand myrtle—just like me.” The chronicle focused on a region “between Virginia and Louisiana, from the Ohio River to the Everglades.” Dozens of the artists profiled and documented during their trips have since been acquired by multiple U.S. institutions that include KMAC Museum, as well as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Smithsonian, and the High Museum in Atlanta. The High Museum adapted the Williams manuscript into an exhibition entitled Way Out There: The Art of Southern Backroads in early 2019 on the occasion of the first publication of Walks to the Paradise Garden, borrowing Mendes’ proposed, but rejected, title for the manuscript, "Way Out People Way Out There".

Due to the great efforts of advocates like former University of Kentucky art professor Michael Hall, who worked to include the Kentucky woodcarver Edgar Tolson in the 1973 Whitney Biennial, and New Museum founder Marcia Tucker, who included Howard Finster from Georgia in her exhibition for the American Pavilion at the 41st Venice Biennale in 1984, considerable attention had begun to be paid to these difficult to classify artists, despite their having been folded into the labels folk artist, outsider, self-taught, or visionary artist, a collection of terms intended to differentiate them from artists who were “trained” within an international system of university art programs.

It was during this period that KMAC Museum itself was founded in 1981, originally as the Kentucky Art and Craft foundation, exhibiting traditional craft and folk artists from the region. A year later Jane Livingston and John Beardsley organized the seminal exhibition Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980 at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. Two years after that, in 1984, Jonathan Williams made the first trip documented in the book. The 1970’s and 80’s were a fertile period when curators, writers, photographers and collectors like William Arnett were championing and exposing the exuberant, previously unheralded work that was being made by unknown artists throughout the American Southeast. As younger generations continue to synthesize the techniques and aesthetics displayed in the work of these artists, historians are more openly discussing the social and economic reasons for their remaining unknown for so long in the first place.


Upcoming Dates For This Event:

  • Wednesday, October 21
  • Thursday, October 22
  • Friday, October 23
  • Saturday, October 24
  • Sunday, October 25
  • Monday, October 26
  • Tuesday, October 27
  • Wednesday, October 28
  • Thursday, October 29
  • Friday, October 30
  • Saturday, October 31
  • Sunday, November 1
  • Monday, November 2
  • Tuesday, November 3
  • Wednesday, November 4
  • Thursday, November 5
  • Friday, November 6
  • Saturday, November 7
  • Sunday, November 8
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