Louisville Magazine

DEC 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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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 12.18 79 Still Fired Up By Dylon Jones ARTS CJ Pressma leans back in his chair, a black cat with the physique of an overstued football brushing past his leg. "I was afraid this would happen," he says, •ddling with the fritz-y hearing aid in his palm. A big leafy houseplant arcs behind his shoulder, obscuring the framed photos by famed artist Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Art dominates the room, •lling not just the walls but shelves as well — a lifetime of collection. Pressma seems to have the hearing aid working again. "Other than not being able to see or hear, I'm in perfect health," he says with a laugh. He has been reminiscing the last few minutes, mostly about the Center for Photographic Studies, a now defunct photography school Pressma started in 1970. Eventually, he fast-forwards to 2003. After all, Pressma says, "'is isn't about me; it's about Pyro." If you've been to the Pyro Gallery in Butchertown, you might think the name comes from the converted house's •rework of a paint job — bright yellow-orange, ac- cented in red. But the current spot is Pyro's fourth. 'e name actually comes from the gallery's •rst location in a former •rehouse on Hancock Street. 'e original idea for the gallery, Pressma says, was to start a coopera- tive for artists interested in digital work. But like most everything else with Pyro, that's changed — the gallery exhibits everything from collage works incorporating Donald Trump's face to abstract fabrics that look like paper lanterns that have ˜oated in from another world. So many artists have come and gone over the years that Pressma has a hard time remembering exactly who was there at the very beginning, 15 years ago. He thinks he's the only original-original member still around. As membership grew, the •rehouse got too small. Pyro moved into a space the artist Julius Friedman was using on Main Street near 21c. After a few years, Press- ma says, it got too expensive. 'at's when Pyro set up shop in NuLu, in the plaza adjacent to Feast BBQ. "It was a beau- tiful space," Pressma says — an open, one-room ˜oor plan. But, again, Pyro was priced out, and the gallery started looking for a new home once more. Pressma was tired of moving, but buying a space didn't seem realistic. Pyro is a co-op, owned and managed by members and supported by their dues. (Full membership costs $120 a month, though there are lower-cost levels of involvement. Leadership roles like ad- ministrative director and artistic director rotate. Still, Pressma wanted to look for something more permanent. Pyro found it in Butchertown, in as hot a spot as can be. Naive, a mostly vegetarian eatery, is right across the street. Pyro's backyard, which features an abstract sculpture by local artist Dave Caudill (and hopefully more in the future), leads to Vietnamese restaurant Pho Baa Lu. 'e gallery has a 10-year lease. "I jokingly said, but I really meant it: I don't want to move again, and by the time 10 years are up, hey, I won't be around," Pressma says. "I mean, who knows?" 'ere is no single aesthetic that uni•es the artwork of Pyro's 15 or so members, among them painters, pho- tographers, printmakers, sculptors and everything else you can think of. Most of them are established artists, quite a few of them are retired, and membership skews above the age of 40, though several members tell me they'd like to see young- er artists get involved. When asked to estimate how many artists have shown at Pyro over the years, Bette Levy, a •ber artist who has been with Pyro 13 or 14 years, balks. First of all, every member gets solo shows — one every year and a half or so for full mem- bers. But they can share those shows with gallery-approved non-members. 'en there's the member's gallery, o to the side of the three main show rooms, containing work by any number of current members. ('e 15th anniversary show at Pyro opens Dec. 6, with a reception on Dec. 9.) If pressed to estimate the number of artists who've shown at Pyro over the years? "Well over 100," Levy •nally says. Seems like a conservative estimate. When I ask Pyro artists about their favorite shows, they always mention col- laborations — in particular, a 2015 show pairing artists with poets. 'ey've also put artists together with chefs, making work somehow related to menus, and hope to work with musicians in the future. "To be able to interact with people that you wouldn't normally interact with is really pretty terri•c. And being challenged to do artwork that's related to a dierent medi- um," Levy says. "My work has improved and changed and become more adventurous the longer I'm in the gallery," Corie Neumayer says. "Because you just feel, well, you can't keep doing the same thing." Pyro hasn't released too many details about the 15th anniversary show. But it's safe to expect a diversity of styles. "I have been so pleased at how energized I have been by hanging out with these people, and the exposure to the other disciplines," newer member Kathleen Loomis says. "I've always had a bazillion •ber-art pals….but it has been very dierent, having close friends who are working in other mediums." Nomadic Pyro Gallery turns 15. Opposite page, pictured left to right, top to bottom: "Blue Heron Dreams," by Debra Lott; "October Country," by Corie Neumayer; "Daily People," by Kathleen Loomis; "Bird-woman," by Leslie Anglin; "New Orleans," by CJ Pressma; "The Falling Diver," by Keith Auerbach; title not provided, by Jody Johnson; "Mask," by Kathleen Loomis; "Experiment With Light - 9," by Keith Auerbach; "Gutenberg Book," by Keith Auerbach; "Old School Pictures," by Claudia Hammer; "Diatomophyceae," by Bette Levy.

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