Next time you’re rushing to a show at the Louisville Palace or hustling to happy hour at Fourth Street Live, give yourself a few extra minutes to stop and enjoy downtown’s “Alley Gallery.” Led by the Louisville Downtown Partnership, the new initiative will include more than 300 downtown alley service doors featuring the creative work of local artists.
The concept, which was proposed by Ken Herndon of LDP, was announced at a press conference Thursday morning that took place in an alley between Third and Fourth streets near the Post Office at Fourth Street Live. It was attended by local officials, media and participating artists.
Mayor Greg Fischer led the ceremony by giving a brief explanation of Alley Gallery and the idea behind it. He said the process is quite simple: Artists submit photos of existing work, businesses look through the photos and select one they like, and then they pay a $300 fee, which goes to the artist and covers the cost of a vinyl print to put on their service door.
The art, in essence, is meant to turn these forgotten, mundane alleys into destinations.
“When you have these kind of surprises in cities, it brings people back,” said Fischer. “They say, ‘This is an authentic place. This isn’t like Everywhere USA.’ That’s what this project represents — a fun and whimsical way to showcase our fantastic artists and for people to have fun in our city.”
He said more than 37 artists have submitted over 160 pieces of art for consideration so far, and they’re still taking submissions.
Alley Gallery will repurpose more than 300 alley and back-of-the-building metal doors in all, and so far 16 have been unveiled. (An interactive online map soon will be available.)
Fischer mentioned the $10 billion of capital construction currently underway, which is great momentum for the city. But, he added, “We gotta give it a little soul, a little Louisville originality, so these doors sing to you!”
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth commended the Louisville artists who are participating in the program and said he will continue to fight in Washington for more funds for the arts.
“We have people in this country who want to eliminate government support for the arts. I can’t image a more disastrous policy,” he said. “What we need for today and the future is creativity. If we eliminate funding for the arts, we are going to stifle the development of creative minds in this country.”
The press conference ended with the always jubilant Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, who began by proclaiming, “Together through the arts, we create a great American city.”
She suggested we support Yarmuth in his fight for more arts funding, and that this project is a great way to brighten the days of the 70,000 people who come downtown daily.
“The mayor created a new word with ‘bourbonism,’ so I’m gonna throw out a new word here: ‘artism,'” she said. “Thank you to the men and women who make their living creating art for the rest of us to enjoy.”
Louisville artist Ashley Brossart, who attended the press conference, said she thinks Alley Gallery is a great way to get local artists involved in the city. It’s not a who-you-know scenario, because you simply submit a photo of your art and hope it touches a business owner looking to spruce up an old door.
One of her artworks has been selected for the project, and she believes it’s somewhere near Seventh Street.
“It’s a very cool concept,” she said. “And the fact that the money goes directly to the artist is great.”