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Sunday, February 3, 2008
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Lava House fire gutted building, not artists' spirit
Benefits will help those who lost everything get back on their feet

By Diane Heilenman
The Courier-Journal

The Louisville Assembly of Vanguard Art was more than the LAVA House building that was destroyed by fire a week ago in the Shelby Park area.

LAVA – the house – was both a studio and residential center for young and young-thinking artists. LAVA – the people – have been and, doubtless, will continue to be a dynamic part of why the Louisville art scene has developed in such a richly layered way. It is an art scene powered from the bottom up, by artists, as well as from the top down, in the traditional hierarchy of museum and gallery authorities.

A lot of the spirit and energy that formed LAVA in 2001 and kept it going through many a change is found in the extensive and clear-headed response to the fire and the death of the resident night watchman and another resident's dog. Five benefits for the nine artists who lost everything they owned that night were organized and listed on the LAVA Web site ( within three days.

The Web site also gives specific art tool needs, clothing sizes, how to donate money and even has a few of the artists registering at Target for replacement needs. Money donations are being matched by Architectural Glass Art and Glassworks.

Let's hope that LAVA just keeps on going, keeps on being a place where the past and future meet. One of the founding artists, Aron Conaway, said after the fire that "that's the way it's looking. We're definitely going to forge ahead. We are just going to try to move forward."

For more information on LAVA and how to help, call (502) 758-8338.

Inspired painting

Were Edouard Manet alive, he no doubt would be flattered. Louisville painter Don Burchett has a charming story about why one of his paintings that now hangs at the Corner Cafe restaurant in Lyndon looks a lot like a Manet.

Inspiration for artists lies everywhere, of course. Although Burchett said he has been indulging in a weekly martini "every Friday evening after a day of painting" for a long time, it was one Friday in particular that stirred the muse. Or, it was the square neckline on barkeeper Kim Buckner, to be precise. Burchett recalled that he said, "Hey, your square neckline reminds me of a Manet painting, 'Bar at the Folies-Bergere.' "

Forthwith, Burchett did what he calls "a parody" of the Manet image of a barmaid and her patrons. The central figure in the parody is Buckner.

But the "patrons" -- a gentleman in a top hat and a woman in the mirror -- are actually Corner Cafe owners Rob and Marjorie Fredrick. The 19-year-old restaurant at New La Grange and Whipps Mill roads has a long-standing policy to display work by artists, including Burchett.

Water world

Feb. 25 is the deadline for proposals for a fountain competition for a courtyard at the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center, 1860 Mellwood Ave. The purchase award is $3,500. For information, visit or call (502) 895-3650.

Regional events

  • Lexington:- The annual Arts Showcase Weekend on Saturday and next Sunday runs true to form with dozens of cultural events from a public collaborative "citizensCREATE!" to concerts, dance, Lincoln-era music, "Arts of India" at the University of Kentucky Art Museum and " Nude International 2008" at the Lexington Art League.

    Organized by LexArts, all events are in or near downtown Lexington. For a listing of the free events, visit or call LexArts at (859) 255-2951.

    Regional openings

  • Wednesday: "Terrain," a new site-specific sound installation by Julianne Swartz. Indianapolis Museum of Art entry pavilion, 4000 Michigan Road. Reception: 5:30 p.m. with 6:30 p.m. artist talk Wednesday. Ends mid-July. Information, (317) 923-1331 or .

  • Saturday: "Selections from the LeWitt Collection," 100 artworks acquired by Sol LeWitt and Carol Androccio from 1960 to the present. Cincinnati Art Museum, Eden Park. Ends May 4. (513) 721-2787.


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