Carrie and Corie Neumayer | Photo by Amber Estes Thieneman

Two years ago, PYRO Gallery member Corie Neumayer signed up to showcase her artwork in the May 2019 slot of the gallery’s calendar. She had no idea at the time what the theme would be, or even what artwork she’d include.

As the date grew closer, she asked her daughter, who also is an artist, if she’d like to share the exhibition. Still not realizing the show opened a few days before Mother’s Day, when the serendipitous fact was finally pointed out, both artists were ecstatic and knew it was meant to be.

“The House Paint & Pencil Show,” featuring new work by Corie and Carrie Neumayer, opens Thursday, May 9, at PYRO. It marks the first time the mother and daughter duo have exhibited their work together.

The show basically is two in one, as each explores her own style and uses different mediums — Corie creates with Latex house paint, while Carrie uses pencils.

“It’s definitely two separate shows, but I think it will be interesting to see our work together and to observe how we make different or similar choices in our mark making, use of line, texture, etc.,” Carrie Neumayer tells Insider. “I think we have both embraced the idea of imposing limitations on ourselves (house paint, pencil) as a way of opening up our creativity. When you narrow your choices, it makes it easier to think creatively.”

“Blue Hills” by Corie Neumayer

Corie Neumayer has been painting with discarded Latex paint samples for more than a decade. She credits being raised by thrifty parents and also her penchant to recycle unwanted materials to first being drawn to the medium. In her artist’s statement, Corie describes the moment she first discovered some old paint cans in her basement while she was working on a large canvas and ran out of acrylic paint.

“It was pure heaven when I gave them a try,” she writes. “So smooth, so opaque, so perfect. I now frequent hardware stores buying the rejected samples. Some colors seem strange but quite often turn out to be my favorites. I rarely ask to have a color mixed because that would eliminate the challenge of using whatever is available.”

“Pencil Shavings” by Carrie Neumayer

Corie has 24 pieces in “The House Paint & Pencil Show,” while Carrie has about 15.

Carrie’s focus was on the humble pencil, a tool and keepsake many people have in their homes. Last fall, she put out a call on social media for pencils in exchange for a piece of art. She received 91.

“Everyone has pencils sitting around whose origins are often unclear,” explains Carrie. “I probably have pencils I got when I was a kid that have survived through moves and are still hanging in there for some reason.”

After she received the pencils in the mail, she started to wonder about their story and the sender.

“Was there a logo from an extinct business? Were there bite marks on it?” she asks. “Did they go out of their way to pick a certain pencil from a certain place because they wanted me to know something about them? I wondered if one could form a meaningful connection with another human through an object like a pencil. Would that really be any weirder or more isolating than the way we communicate now?”

Carrie then began creating art with the pencils and of the pencils. And by the end of her project, she could tell you who each of the 91 pencils came from. Some of those drawings and all the pencils will be on display at the exhibit. In fact, Carrie has even made some souvenir pencils that’ll be handed out during the exhibit.

“I love her spirit of adventure — her willingness to try anything that seems interesting,” says Corie about her daughter. “Pencils, obviously, recreating paintings from a verbal description, cardboard neighborhoods and so much more. She has strong, well-grounded and studied ideas and beliefs about art and life. I could not be more proud.”

Meanwhile, Carrie says she’s attracted to the looseness and boldness in her mother’s new work.

“She uses color in unexpected combinations that are really exciting to look at. She has an amazing sense of composition and will leave in a drip, a scratch or a stray brush mark that just brings the whole composition together in a way that feels effortless,” says Carrie. “Over the last few series she’s done, she has been moving further into abstraction. I’m proud of her — and the work’s — confidence.”

“Time to Plow” by Corie Neumayer

Corie hopes the show will offer much-needed relief from today’s tumultuous times.

“I hope people will feel like they have seen something a little different and meaningful,” she says. “The world is in such turmoil … our work is calm and peaceful. We need a reprieve. I hope people will look at work that is made with passion using ordinary materials. I hope also people will see a warm, loving relationship between mother and daughter.”

“The House Paint & Pencil Show” runs May 9 through June 15. An opening reception is planned on Friday, May 10, from 6-9 p.m., and a Gallery Talk will take place on Sunday, May 26, at 2 p.m. PYRO Gallery is located at 1006 E. Washington St.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."