Louisville Magazine

JUL 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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48 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 7.16 Bentonville, Ark.; Cincinnati; Durham, N.C.; Lexington; and, as of June, Oklahoma City. "I never expected it to be such a big enterprise, to have people identify with it so strongly," Wilson says. Each 21c has its own upscale, locally sourced restaurant and its own 21c penguin — plastic tall-as-teens birds that have become accidental 21c mascots (visitors love to pose with them for photos). An Italian art group made Louisville's red penguin, the original, and now green, yellow, fuchsia, blue and purple ones in the other cities. Wilson says, "What started as just a hobby or pleasure has turned into signifcant . . . weight. I'm not complaining about that. It's a constant reminder. Like my clock." Now 21c has more than 60,000 square feet of exhibition space to fll with socially, racially or sexually charged art. Here, art is not decoration — it is focus. It can be jarring. It is always changing. You'll never see a Monet or Cézanne. Instead, you'll fnd today's emerging artists — 21c: 21st century. Currently on display in 21c Louisville's atrium is the anniversary exhibition "21c at 10: A Global Gathering." A bright- pink tapestry dominates one of the walls like a matador lady's cape, with sewn-in images of birds, volcanoes, a decapitated doll — the artist's ex-boyfriend, which Wilson points out to everyone. Alluring photographs of nude men hang nearby. Four sculptures of naked children stand behind the reception desk. On display in the lobby: miniature reliquaries and churches made out of ammunition — a shot to the temple. On the sidewalk outside 21c stands a gleaming gold "David," two times bigger than the original, looking rather cellulite-y from layer after layer of the 3-D printing that produced the three-ton statue. Te frst week "David" was on display, an incensed woman wrote a letter saying she would never be able to bring her 12-year-old daughter downtown again. Some art isn't supposed to be easy to look at. Like the Death Clock. Wilson knows people at the ofce don't like his Death Clock. Especially after he persuaded the artist to shave of some years. Wilson wanted was a more "realistic" date of demise. Call that tempting fate, controlling the uncontrollable. On April 21, 2016, Wilson's altered Death Clock shows 11 years, nine months, 23 days, fve hours, 34 minutes and three seconds. Eleven years better than 11 months, but still others shudder. Why be constantly reminded of that particular truth? "You embrace it or you avoid thinking about it," Wilson says. "I'm not looking at it, like, 'How many more minutes have passed away?'" He'll walk under it, glance up, remember the ultimate message — he has limited time to get everything in order. A letterpressed sign parallel to his ofce door reads: "Imagine on your deathbed you are able to see two flms / One highlights your achievements / Te second shows what you could have achieved with your ability, talent, opportunity...." Details make him tick and wasting time ticks him of. "I like to be decisive," he says. "Move on." Tere is project after project, deadline after deadline. Tere's 21c's expansion — Kansas City, Nashville and Indianapolis locations are currently in the works. Tere's Woodland Farm, the 1,000 acres in Oldham County, 30 miles from downtown, where Wilson and Brown live among roaming bison and hogs and sustainable agriculture. Tere's Hermitage, an historic Oldham County equine center. "Nothing is ever completed," Wilson says. "Tere's always 10 things going on at once." No time for dead space. He can't even relax on vacation. Makes him uncomfortable. Ten days away and he's already thinking about what he's missing at work. Tank goodness for the internet. "I can be in London or South Africa or Venice and still review drawings, have conference calls," he says. Vacation for him is studying hotel rooms, paying attention to the texture of the robes, the way the bed is made, how the room service works or doesn't. He's checked into hotels and checked out immediately because he didn't like a room or the personnel's unhelpful attitude. He chuckles. "Laura Lee always asks, 'Is it OK to unpack now?'" Wilson, the king of aesthetics, absorbs design. He takes pictures of food presentation — meat and cheese boards, how the asparagus is propped up on the plate. He studies architecture — the lines and leans in Tokyo's buildings, the gates in Budapest, Venice's marble foors, a colorful glass ceiling in Cuba. All are inspiration. Elements of the bar at London's One Aldwych Hotel — liquor lining the window — can now be seen at 21c Durham. Anywhere he goes it's open eyes and action. "I am always moving," Wilson says. Te clock is always ticking. Wilson speeds through time, speeds up time. He's tight-clocked, especially at art fairs. "When he gets through the doors, he takes of running," says Brown, who moves with a painter's slow eye, more methodical in her wandering. "If I follow him, I'm at odds with myself." Local flmmaker Edward Heavrin scrambled to keep up with Wilson at the 2014 Art Basel fair in Miami. (Heavrin frst saw Wilson's red glasses during a party he catered at Woodland Farm, where he watched Wilson zipline into a farm pond, a signal the party was over, goodnight.) He was working on In Frame: Te Man Behind the Museum Hotels, a documentary about Wilson that screened at the Kentucky Center this April. Te flm captures Wilson's decisive — some might say impulsive — approach to buying art. "He always asks, 'What's the story behind this? What does this mean?'" Heavrin says. "If the gallery owner can't tell him what the piece means in 20 seconds or less — if it's too long-winded or doesn't make sense, too avant garde — he loses interest." Wilson doesn't want to miss what excites the eye. Doesn't want someone to steal a piece out from under On April 21, 2016, Wilson's Death Clock shows 11 years, nine months, 23 days, five hours, 34 minutes and three seconds.

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