Louisville Magazine

SEP 2018

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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102 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.18 b e clouds have decided to hang out elsewhere today, and Billy Keith is glad. More fuel for his fire. His fuel — the sun — arcs across the sky. It's almost noon, and Keith has been working on his wood burnings for an hour or so, today's setup on a street corner in front of Slugger Field. Cutting-torch goggles cover his sky-blue eyes and strap down his wild blond hair. He holds up a large, square Fresnel magnifying lens — this one originally from an old RV window — and filters the sun into a bright point, BILLY KEITH HARNESSES THE SUN which sparks a flame. Keith moves it across a scrap of corn crate, forming the head of a chicken. Smoke drifts in the breeze. "It's like writing with a pen from a distance," Keith says, as he scoots the fire along, a chicken body here now, a wing. He finishes the draw- ing in less than 10 minutes, thumbing the burn lines to create ash-smudge shading. He uses a small microscope lens to sign his name, hair-fine lines a little crooked. "I'm not going for perfect," he says. "If I was going for perfect, I'd use a stencil. But that takes all the organic fun out of being alive. And it's all about being alive." Keith almost died in 2010. Got what he calls "girl-drink drunk" — you know, vodka cranberries, daiquiris — on Good Friday. Turns out: Bad Friday. Blacked out, as he was prone to do, caught in his deep "Germantown redneck roots." Went hard. Woke up. His place still the same — a mess of the lenses he's been obsessed with since he was a kid — but he was…different. He began spending days on his roof, where the neighbor's Photo by Mickie Winters

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