Artist Francisco Xavier Cardona organized “Russell in Flux,” a pop-up art show in the Russell neighborhood this weekend to start a conversation between residents and the art community. | Courtesy of Francisco Xavier Cardona

A vacant lot in the Russell neighborhood is getting a temporary makeover in the form of a one-night pop-up art show this Friday.

Called “Russell in Flux,” the idea behind the exhibition grew out of conversations at a potluck dinner last week at 1619 Flux: Art + Activism, a creative space located in the Portland neighborhood.

The show’s organizer Francisco Xavier Cardona said a Russell resident at the event pointed out that very few art exhibitions are taking place in West End outside of the Portland neighborhood, which has become an arts haven thanks to a redevelopment effort led by developer Gill Holland, who also transformed a formerly rundown East Market Street into the thriving NuLu neighborhood with restaurants, art galleries, shops and a wealth of economic activity.

The conversation at 1619 Flux’s dinner also made Cardona realize, he said, that unless he took initiative with his work, the only people who will see it are those who can afford to attend high dollar events. In “Russell in Flux,” Cardona is displaying an LED wall that he originally created for the Forecastle music festival, which costs $70 or more to attend.

“One of the things we talked about was that people shouldn’t be excluded from participating in art based on their socioeconomic level or where they live. That’s especially true in a smaller art market like Louisville,” explained Cardona, who lives in the Clifton neighborhood. “But every city has the gatekeepers who have the money to curate art. Our event is really a way for artists to find other artists hidden in different communities and have a conversation.”

This LED wall installation by Francisco Xavier Cardona will be on display at the “Russell in Flux” pop-up art show this weekend. | Photo by Nathaniel Caleb Perry

Russell is currently beginning a major redevelopment tied to a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Cardona said he hopes his pop-up show encourages people in the city’s arts community to be part of that change.

Cardona has recruited Louisvillian Sara von Roenn and Cincinnati-based projection artist Kyle Eli Ebersole for the show. Von Roenn will showcase a portion of her exhibit “Coming Out of the Closet,” an interactive, freestanding installation inspired by the LGBTQ rights movement.

Cardona said he is still recruiting other artists for the exhibition. He expects to have one or two more by the start of the show Friday.

In addition to the art, “Russell in Flux” will include food from Oliver’s Smokin’ Bar-B-Que and music.

“This was all literally started last Saturday at 3 p.m. It is incredible that we’ve done so far,” Cardona said.

“We just want to share something that can aid in uplifting the climate if only for a few hours,” he added. “Who knows this may lead to more pop-ups like this around the West End or even a West End artists’ collective. Artists are everywhere; I just hope this event is a beacon to them.”

“Russell in Flux” starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, at 2613 W. Market St.

Editor’s Note: Due to source error, a previous version of this story had the wrong address. It was corrected.

Michael L. Jones
Michael L. Jones, a freelance journalist and author, covers communities for Insider Louisville. His latest book "Louisville Jug Music: From Earl McDonald to the National Jubilee" (History Press) received the 2014 Samuel Thomas Book Award from the Louisville Historical League. In addition to his contributions to Insider, his writing appears regularly in LEO Weekly, Louisville Magazine, Food & Dining – Louisville Edition, and Who’s Who Louisville: African American Profiles. He also sits on the board of directors of the National Jug Band Jubilee. Jones and his wife, Melissa Amos-Jones, a physical therapist, live in the Kenwood Hills neighborhood near Iroquois Park.