Louisville artists John McCarthy and Susan Moffett both served as members of the PYRO Gallery collective and worked as colleagues teaching art at Indiana University Southeast. They had been friends for years, so when Moffett approached McCarthy last year with an idea of sharing an exhibit, he immediately was on board.
Moffett, a painter, challenged McCarthy, a ceramic sculpture artist, to get more playful with his work, and the two came up with the idea of a nature-themed show.
Unfortunately, Moffett died unexpectedly in February from heart-related issues, but McCarthy made it his mission to carry on with the show to pay tribute to his friend and fellow artist.
“Nature in Play” features sculptures by McCarthy and prints and drawings by Moffett, along with a retrospective on her work. The exhibit opens Thursday, July 19, and a special opening reception will be held Sunday, July 22.
McCarthy recalls his conversation with Moffett about the exhibit’s inception.
“I remember her saying, ‘Sometimes we just gotta lighten up,'” he says. “So Susan challenged me to get a little more playful. And then we talked about what that means in terms of my art — it challenged me to look at the subject matter a little more lightheartedly and also add color. My palate tends to be monochromatic, but in this show, I’ve really stepped it up. I’ve used purple and red — and it’s like whoa!”
McCarthy is appreciative of Moffett’s advice and enjoyed coloring outside the lines, so to speak, for this show. He, along with the other PYRO members, wanted to pay homage to Moffett by also adding a retrospective to the gallery during this exhibit.
And now that PYRO has relocated to Butchertown and has more gallery space, that was easy to accommodate.
McCarthy has about 30 pieces in the show, and there will be about 20 paintings and drawings from Moffett, including some original work she finished for the exhibit before her death. McCarthy says he’s been working with Moffett’s husband and daughters to help decide which pieces to include.
“Nature in Play” runs July 22-Aug. 26 at PYRO Gallery, 1006 E. Washington St. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, July 22, from 1-4 p.m. And there will be a First Friday reception on Friday, Aug. 3, from 6-9 p.m.