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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50 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 7.16 didn't ft the collection. Te work was too modern, too mainstream, too expensive (the copy in this catalogue of "prints and multiples" going for upwards of $500,000. For a print!). Te artist too dead. "We can buy a lot more contemporary artists, young artists, and help them, versus buying one $500,000 piece," Wilson says. He turns the page. Hello, Picasso. Wilson remembers you. Te frst portrait he bought back when he was an art student at Murray State University was a print of yours. Te sadness of the subject — thin features, eyes focused on the viewer, on nothing — reminded Wilson of himself. "I envied Picasso's ability to capture emotion in so few lines," he says. Wilson says he was the only person with an A in his Murray State design class, but he struggled in fgurative drawing, the teacher ripping his drawings of the easel, tearing them up in front of everybody. It was enough to scare him out of art school and into political science. His father had been mayor of Wicklife and Wilson liked seeing him as leader of the community. He liked the thought of contributing to society. He was inspired by Robert Kennedy and his advancement of civil rights. Eventually: Frankfort and a 30-year career in politics under three diferent governors — Julian Carroll, John Y. Brown and Wallace Wilkinson. In that time, Wilson planned events like the inaugural ball, wrote speeches, helped create a new Department of Arts, served as the deputy commissioner of public information and as executive director of a governor's mansion restoration project. But: "I was trying to be someone I wasn't. Saying all the right things all the time," Wilson says. "I learned the politicians I most respected were very often not honest." He was disillusioned with gifts of cash, unreported contributions, unfaithful husbands. In Carroll's administration, in the late '70s, Wilson met his frst wife — the governor's sister, Jane — and they had a son, J.B. In the next administration, they divorced. He describes his life then by quoting a Talking Heads' song: "And you may tell yourself / Tis is not my beautiful house! / And you may tell yourself / Tis is not my beautiful wife!" After the divorce, he spent a day in the Rodin Museum in Paris, wandering around, looking at the same statues over and over. Sculpture had been his art-school favorite. "Te Gates of Hell." "Te Lovers." He liked the looseness, the movement in bronze, the paradoxical softness of the hard medium, the fact that Rodin could leave work rough, unfnished. "Especially compared to the classic Greek and Roman statues. Tose were fne, smooth, stylized. All those things are perfect," Wilson says. "Rodin was able, as an artist, to get past that." Steve Wilson cannot get past that because Steve Wilson is a perfectionist. At the site in Oklahoma City, he analyzes everything. Tis 21c took over an old Ford Motor Co. assembly plant, the original sign still on the exterior. Te building was passed down through several generations of one family; this generation formed a partnership with 21c to save the building, a $47.5 million project. Wilson marvels at the original

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