Louisville Magazine

MAY 2019

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

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/1108942

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Page 107 of 112

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 5.19 105 In 2008, Semones' friends employed him to put up outdoor fencing and design the metal sign for the opening of Zanz- abar, the bar and venue at the edge of the Schnitzelburg neighborhood. He built a barbecue smoker at the Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot. Another early project was a viewing platform and support struc- ture for an 18-foot orchard ladder made of redwood, which today stands on the Crestwood property of art collector Al Shands. Meant to provide an enhanced perspective of a 120-foot-long earth sculpture by Maya Lin (she of the Vietnam Memorial), the ladder became an art piece itself and made Semones a word-of-mouth craftsman sought out by well-heeled local homeowners. ey've since called on him for a variety of indoor furnishings and fixtures, as well as functional outdoor showpieces such as fire pits, planters and iron gates. In 2015, Semones made local headlines when he fabricated a shipping container into a giant 1980s-style boombox, outfitted with a tape deck that harbored a functioning DJ booth. e boombox rolled down Broadway in that year's Pegasus Parade. Semones put that container and others at a since- discontinued outdoor event space called ReSurfaced. Earlier this year, a new storage facility for homeless people obtained some of the containers, and Semones did repairs and installed lockers. "I gave them a really good rate," he says. As we head to Copper & Kings on East Washington Street in Butcher- town, Semones reveals more of his back- story, which includes five childhood years in Texas with his mother and step-father, as well as two years of boarding school in Santa Barbara, California, as a pre-teen. He was back in Louisville by his high school years and attended Jeffersontown High, but never graduated. "I got my GED. I couldn't do school. I couldn't sit still. Nothing interested me, and by that point I smoked a lot of pot," he says. "I don't even care if you say I'm in recovery. All I want to do is: If I can help anybody know that you just keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter what happens…you just keep truckin'." Copper & Kings, founded in 2014, hired local architect Ted Payne to envi- sion a novel, street-facing design for the space leading to the distillery's nonde- script, red-brick building at the back of the property. When shipping containers came into play for the gift shop and tour headquarters, Semones got the call. Payne says that, unlike other metal fabricators in the area, Semones was willing to work onsite and had experience with containers. "He brings a lot of energy, there's no doubt about that," Payne says. Semones cut a trio of containers to various sizes and welded them into a modernist portico that frames a walkway. e two grounded containers (one of which is the gift shop) are painted in a lively orange and topped by a jet-black overhead container. e boombox Semones built now sits on a perch above a second-story outdoor wooden deck at Gravely Brewing Co. on Baxter Avenue, the next stop on our tour. As we drive in that direction, Semones re- flects on a business that has never followed a plan. "I didn't set out to start a business," he says. "I just kept moving my feet and it turned into a business." He talks about finding a more solid niche in a growing market for the reuse of shipping containers. (Most containers he's worked with have already been filled one time with overseas cargo, then sold off at the port.) He has been in discussions with potential partners about building homes or affordable startup locations for entrepre- neurs, using the containers that sort of act like attachable and stackable giant Legos. Such adaptations are already happening in places like Las Vegas and Tucson. You can even buy a prefabricated home made from a shipping container on Amazon; I recently saw one listed there for $36,000. Semones is already dreaming up creative interior furnishings for such small quarters and mentions one: a set of wall shelves that can be folded down, Murphy bed-like, to serve as a table during dining hours. At a stoplight, he reaches in the backseat to grab architectural drawings of a steel Quonset hut that may be one of his next commissions. When sought out by the client who wants it built, Semones gave his typical response: "OK, I'll give it a try." He adds, "Again, I'm just letting the spiritual flow happen. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other." Semones says that he's a better worker than he is a boss, that he's most engaged when he has a welder or a buffer in hand. "It just puts me in the moment, slows down my heart rate," he says. "It slows the constant racing of my mind. I feel better under the hood doing the work than I do being the boss." At Gravely, steel panels customized by Semones encase the front door. On one of those panels the name "gravely" is printed in a lowercase typesetter's font, shining in relief against the rust-colored surface. Inside the brewery, which opened in 2017, Semones points out the steel washroom sinks and countertops he fashioned. "I'm hired as a contractor to do things," he says. "I get a chance to be creative, but there's a utilitarian aspect to it." Outside, the sight of the boom box brings a smile to his face. He seems pleased to have a favorite piece still on public display. e notion of following his muse into full-time artistic pursuits occasionally grasps him. "You have to be really good to be a full-time artist and make the kind of money you want," he says, "but I've got some ideas. at's going to be for my retirement. I want to do them at my pace. ey're layers, different substrates, differ- ent types of materials. And basically all that it is is, you've got positive space and you've got negative space. So you just keep layering, layer upon layer, and all of those layers will create an image of positive and negative space." I decide to not ask for further explana- tion. Our tour concludes at Oneness Sneaker Boutique on Bardstown Road in the High- lands. e Lexington streetwear retailer hired Semones to construct oversize metal clothing racks and other accessories for its Louisville shop. One piece, dangling above a rack, is a neon-colored plastic silhouette HEAVY METTLE Continued from page 85

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