Susan Moloney Byrd and Susan Moremen at their new gallery. | Courtesy of Moremen Moloney Gallery
Susan Moloney Byrd and Susan Moremen at their new gallery. | Courtesy of Moremen Moloney Contemporary Gallery

Butchertown continues to grow, and this weekend, the Moremen Moloney Contemporary Gallery will open its first official exhibit on East Washington Street.

Owned by two friends, Susan Moremen and Susan Moloney Byrd, the gallery plans to focus on introducing Louisville to new artists.

“We’re trying to be very contemporary and show both emerging artists and mid-career (artists),” said Moremen. “We’ve had interest from a couple of well-known artists who are not from Louisville.”

Moremen is semi-retired, and while she has long been an art aficionado, she made her career in the world of business. “My background is marketing and strategic planning … I have always loved art, always spent a lot of time in galleries, and if I’d been a rich girl, I’d have majored in art, but since I wasn’t, I majored in business.”

Moloney Byrd’s career has been in interior design, and that’s how the duo first came together.

“I used her a lot as an interior designer, and then I did some freelance work for her, and we traveled a lot together,” said Moremen. “And we’re very drawn to the same types of contemporary art … It’s contemporary, it’s provocative, and I call it approachable.”

The twosome’s adventures in running a gallery began with a one-off show last spring.

“I have a friend in Nashville who had a piece of art I love, and she introduced me to the artist, and I saw his art and said, ‘You need to have a show in Louisville,’” said Moremen. The artist, Michael Madzo, hadn’t been shown in Louisville yet, and Moremen took the idea to Moloney, who suggested they set up a temporary space in Butchertown. “So the other Susan and I did a show at her Butchertown house, which used to be her design studio.”

"Untitled" by Yovani
“Untitled” by Yosvani Caisé

Based on the success of that first evening, Moremen and Moloney decided to transition the Butchertown location into a full-time gallery, though at first its hours will be limited to Saturdays and by appointment.

“We’ll see how that goes,” said Moremen. “There’s not a big reason in Louisville to be open all the time unless you’re in a pedestrian area with a lot of tourists.”

“Cuban Art: Influence and Articulation,” the gallery’s first official show that opens Friday, Sept. 9, offers a trio of Cuban artists curated by two other Cuban artists, Carlos Gamez de Francisco and Yarima Hernandez.

de Francisco already has had successful shows in Louisville, first at the Green Building, and then at 21c Museum Hotel. Moremen spoke about her introduction to de Francisco’s work, which she says came before his first successes in the art scene. “I had a friend who was teaching English as a second language, and she called me one day and said, ‘I’ve got this student who showed me his art and I think it’s incredible. Will you come look at it with me?’”

Moremen did and took an interest in the work. “It was amazing, and we helped him get connected to some people and helped work on his first show.”

"Brutal Light" by Lisyanet Rodriguez
“Brutal Light” by Lisyanet Rodriguez

de Francisco and co-curator Hernandez have chosen Lisyanet Rodriguez, Maikel Dominguez and Yosvani Caisé for Moremen Moloney Contemporary’s first show. Rodriguez and Dominguez are younger artists, both born in the late ’80s, whereas Caisé was born in ’74.

This illustrates the gallery’s intentions to focus on new and mid-career artists, but also points to what Moremen sees as a generational divide in Cuban artists. “The older Cuban artists who left Cuba early still reference the revolution a lot, and the things that happened … (but) younger artists were born into that system,” she explained.

Moremen is excited about the art that will come out of Cuba with improved U.S./Cuban relations, and she thinks this show is a great example of what may be to come.

“I think you’re going to see a lot more Cuban artists (in the) mainstream,” she said. “Their technical skills are over the top, and you can see that in the work of all three of these artists.”

"Beautiful Absences" by Maikel Dominguez
“Beautiful Absences” by Maikel Dominguez

Moremen Moloney Contemporary has several other exhibits lined up for the fall, including sculptor Andy Harding and abstract painter Pat Snyder.

“Cuban Art: Influence and Articulation” opens Friday, Sept. 9, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1-4:30 p.m. The show continues through Sept. 30. Moremen Moloney Contemporary Gallery is located at 939 E. Washington St.

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Eli Keel
Eli Keel is “pretty much” a Louisville native. You may have seen him around town reading poetry, short stories, dancing or acting. He’s a passionate locavore, so you may have also seen him stuffing his face at one of Louisville’s amazing restaurants. When he isn’t too busy writing short stories, he blogs at amanwalksintoablog.wordpress.com.