A non-profit arts organization in Lexington is one of 48 institutions in the country being awarded a major grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts. According to director Paul Brown, it's the largest grant Institute 193 has ever received.
Ten framed portraits of male prostitutes ,hustlers and drug addicts lean against the wall at Institute 193’s small store front art gallery. The white walls and hardwood floors deliver a sharp contrast to the vivid paintings created by Edward Melcarth .
Paul Brown director of Institute 193 is preparing the exhibition being done in collaboration with the University of Kentucky Art Museum . He says Melcarth was a painter originally from Louisville who had an interest in the male figure.
Brown: “This is actually more of a historical show. Edward was working in the 40’s 50’s and 60’s. And passed away in the early 70’s. We actually have a relationship with an archive here called the Faulkner- Morgan archive , which is an archive of Queer Central Kentucky. So we worked with them and the University of Kentucky Art Museum to develop this show and show this artist who hadn’t been exhibited since the 70’s.”
Institute 193 works with contemporary southern visual artists, writers and musicians to produce and share their work around the region and across the country. Paul Brown says the 50 thousand dollar grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts will cover two years of program support. He says other organizations awarded grants this year by the foundation include, The Art Institute in Chicago, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and Leslie -Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art .
Brown:” It’s a really amazing honor to be included with all of these other amazing grantees and to be recognized as an important voice in Contemporary Art. We’re the first organization to be awarded this grant in Lexington and are the only organization in Kentucky to be awarded a grant this cycle.”
Opened in 2009 by Philip March Jones, a native Lexingtonian who now runs a gallery in New York, Institute 193 was founded because there were very few venues in town dedicated to contemporary art . Jones felt like a lot of talent in the region was unappreciated . His goal was to preserve and document the cultural landscape of the American South. Director Paul Brown says the Andy Warhol Grant will have a significant impact on furthering the mission.
Brown: “We do have an emphasis on artists and art work that’s coming from Kentucky. The reason why we think it’s important to show that work is because it’s work that historically has not been critically considered or represented to the point we think it should be.”
One way Institute 193 brings work from the south to the attention of broader audiences is by partnering with regional and national institutions according to Brown.
Brown: “For example a little bit later this month we’ll be bringing two artists from Lexington, Louis Zoellar Bicket ll and Beverly Baker to the Outsider Art Fair in New York City, which is a major art fair that brings a lot of attention to self- taught work.”
A lot of people might associate art from the south and rural areas in general to only include folk art or self -taught art. Brown says while that is an important part of the programming , Institute 193 shares a broader look of the south.
Brown: Our program kind of runs the gamut of medium and age and race and orientation and gender. We really show artists of all types to try and paint a diverse, accurate picture of the region.
Brown welcomes everyone to stop by Institute 193 named for its address at 193 North Limestone in Lexington and check out the latest exhibit by Edward Melcarth which runs through February 10th.