Louisville Magazine

MAR 2019

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 3.19 99 a hand out of the coat pocket it had been nestled in and points to a flurry of crystalline flakes. en he says, "Oh! A blue jay! You see it?" Looking west, toward Indiana, I mention that I can't even see the difference between the sky and the river. Does he? Sweatt laughs. "Oh, yeah, definitely. I see the value changes. I can see the ripples in the water. It's yellow and brown, the ground over there. And the sky is violet." He nearly doubles over laughing at the way I'm looking at him. "It's purple, white, violet — all mixed together," he says. "Even when the sun goes down, it does the spectrum, and just before it closes at the horizon, it turns green. If you stood here for a while, something would move. It's stuff you don't see, animals and things. When I'm walking, I'll see insects crossing. I'm just in tune with it, I guess. at's why I say it's fun." For years, being an artist was not fun for Sweatt. He joined the Army out of high school, says he made sergeant. He didn't think he would come back to Louisville, but he resettled here and dedicated himself to his art. Getting some momentum was tough. "I made the dive but there was no water in the pool," he says. "I thought basic training was the hardest thing I'd go through. But nothing was working out for me. I mean nothing." He says a turning point came two years ago, when he finally said, "I don't know." He unthreaded business from art and researched his clientele, the local art market, the probability of making money. "I just started being thankful for the experience. I think the coolest thing about it is being humbled by it, going without for so long, and losing — having really, really bad experiences. But the failure was the experience," he says. We head back toward our cars. Sweatt entered the military in 1983. One night, when he was stationed at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, he was camped out in the woods and marveled at all the stars hanging in the sky. "I felt like I could reach out and touch them. And I had never noticed some of them are closer than the others, some of them are different colors. I was like, 'Wow! When did we get this?'" Sweatt laughs. "I'm so old, I got a million stories. I have one foot in the grave and the other one on the banana peel. We're all on the clock. I don't have but a minute left, so I'm having fun with it." He looks toward the slopes of Shawnee Park. e trees are brown, in focus, but I cannot see the cardinal Sweatt points to, zipping among the branches. "ere's just so much I see, all the time," he says. "Everything's art to me. I don't know what not to paint. Sometimes it's a beautiful mess. But I'm willing to clean it up. I tell people all the time, 'Pay attention. It's all around us.'" Sweatt "rediscovering" a landscape in Shawnee Park.

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