Black Arts in Louisville
= Audio Available Online
Wes Cunningham interviews Louisville native Elmer Lucille Allen at the University of Louisville. She discusses growing up attending African American schools and later working in mostly white environments. She worked at Brown Forman for 31 years. She didnâ€™t begin working as an artist until she attended art classes at U of L in 1981. Allen also mentions her connections to the Louisville Art Workshop and years spent travelling with sculptor Ed Hamilton along with her photographer husband.
Wes Cunningham interviews Louisville journalist and civil rights activist Mervin Aubespin. The interview covers Mervâ€™s days as a student at Iowa, his brief stint as a middle school shop teacher, and his time as an active member in civil rights protests including those outside department stores which did not allow Black people to try on clothes. He then earned a position at the Courier-Journal, first on the art team and then as associate journalist and chief recruiter. This work allowed him to travel to many places. Merv also discusses his involvement with the Louisville Art Workshop. He identifies as an artist who incorporated painting into a life full of other responsibilities including work and family.
This interview covers Ken Clay's experience growing up in Louisville. He performed in choirs as a high school student at Central High School and studied at Bellarmine, eventually working for the Kentucky Center for the Arts as a producer for many years. He talks about his experience creating programs for African American youth in Louisville and the positive impact these programs had. He founded the Renaissance Development Corporation in the mid-1970s. Clay also discusses the significance of Walnut Street as a cultural hub in the West End of Louisville and the negative impact of urban renewal on black businesses. He talks about the store he ran for several years called the Corner of Jazz which operated not only as a store but as a cultural and intellectual space for conversation related to the national Black movement. Clay witnessed a large riot near his store during which a police car drove into a crowd gathered on Walnut Street.
Artist and professor Bob Douglas is interviewed by Wes Cunningham about his experience as a young artist and then as a participant in the Louisville arts scene during the Black Arts movement. He discusses his experiences with racism in the workplace and his efforts to find a position. He studied at the University of Louisville, eventually attending graduate school and teaching courses in African American Art. He was one of the founders of a gallery enterprise in Louisville and was a major player in the Louisville Art Workshop. He also worked on urban renewal, improving the property rights of black people in Louisville. Douglass reflects on the impact of the Black Arts movement and the art movements he was involved in on progress for the black community as a whole.
Wes Cunningham interviews famous Louisville sculptor Ed Hamilton from his studio. Hamilton talks about his upbringing as the adopted son of a tailor (father) and barber (mother). He discusses the influential moments he had attending different schools and the teachers who encouraged him to pursue art. He attended art school at U of L and became involved with the Louisville Art Workshop. He formed a particularly close bond with G.C. Coxe who acted as a mentor and friend. A pivotal moment in Hamiltonâ€™s life occurred when he met sculptor Barney Bright and began to work as his apprentice. He notes this time as being transitory, and afterwards, opportunities began to open up. He eventually achieved international recognition, sculpting pieces such as The Spirit of Freedom in Washington, D.C.
Wes Cunningham interviews Louisville native Martina Nichols Kunnecke about her experience growing up and going to school in West Louisville. She discusses her time working for the Free Press of Louisville, her involvement with the Louisville Art Workshop, and her time as a member of the West Side Players. Kunnecke now works as an historian and is an advocate for the preservation and appreciation for the West End.