Every third Friday, the Speed Art Museum comes alive with After Hours at the Speed: MUSIC. DRINKS. ART. The monthly event brings more than 1,000 people together to celebrate art in a new way. Artists and curators bring a deeper dimension to the work with lectures and gallery talks. Food and drink are on offer, and docents gamify exhibitions, turning them into centerpieces for interaction. Bands electrify the typically hushed galleries, and a Speed Cinema release is debuted.
This month’s April 20th event kicks off a new lecture series at 6 p.m. with celebrated Kentucky artist, Ebony G. Patterson. Central to the Jamaican artist’s talk is her piece, Golden Rest — Dead Treez, which was acquired by the Museum a couple years ago. The piece, a stunningly ornate mixed-media tapestry, consistently offers something new to viewers, even those who have appreciated it many times before.
Patterson’s talk is the first of the Alfred R. Shands III and Mary N. Shands Master Series of lectures, which will recur annually. Expect a brilliant analysis of gender, race, Jamaican dancehall culture, and Patterson’s process while you try not to get too distracted by sparkling and figurative elements in her provocative and engrossing work.
Miranda Lash, curator of contemporary art, says the Shands lectures will always be tied either to a Kentucky artist or a piece in the Shands’ collection. Lecturers, she said, “will always have a component where they’re interacting with our arts community in a very direct way.”
Two bands will transform the Museum’s atmosphere in the Grand Hall this month. At 8 p.m., Chicago experimental rock trio, RLYR (pronounced relayer), kicks out the jams with buoyant, instrumental prog-punk. At 9 p.m., check out FOTOCRIME, a Louisville band whose highly-danceable sound is described as “electronic-meets-organic-post-punk.”
The Speed’s University Docents’ gamified Fresh Look tours invite viewer participation with unique challenges that spin elements of popular culture and humor into the art-viewing experience. The docents, who are students from UofL and Campbellsville University, train throughout the fall semester.
“They really focus on how to make it fun and interactive,” said Shannon Karol, teaching and engagement manager at the Speed. A recent popular game called Buy, Sell, Burn is a twist on the classic celebrity ranking game. It gets participants talking about what they love and don’t love so much in the Museum’s collections and exhibits. Fresh Look tours happen at 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m..
Also of particular interest this month is a gallery talk by curator Kim Spence who was inspired when the Museum’s recent acquisition of a Yoruba King’s crown coincided with the cultural phenomenon of The Crown on Netflix.
“I started thinking about ways in which royalty around the globe has really helped form the collection we have here at the Speed,” she said. “We are looking at all those influences where royalty can be seen through pieces in our collection.”
Spence, the curator of prints, drawings, and photography, will examine royal commissions, including one for a 17th Century Queen Mother from the Kingdom of Benin of the Edo people (Nigeria). The sculpture, called Altar of the Hand, memorializes the mother of the king’s life accomplishments in brass. The layered significance of this piece, juxtaposed with a nearby portrait of Madame Adélaïde, aunt of Louis XVI, is sure to illuminate.
“We’re always launching our weekend run of arthouse films that haven’t opened in Louisville,” said Curator of Film, Dean Otto. This month’s After Hours Speed Cinema screening at 6 p.m. is EX LIBRIS, by Director Frederick Wiseman. It examines the New York Public Library.
The film’s trailer depicts a live librarian on headset saying, in deadpan fashion, “The unicorn is actually an imaginary animal,” to a curious caller. Presented in partnership with the Louisville Free Public Library, Otto said, “The film is really about how the nature of libraries has changed,” existing now as almost a form of social service, “and how the need for connection has greatly evolved.”
At 8:15 p.m., the Director’s Cut presentation entitled “Women of Color on Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism” will be led by Ramona Lindsay of the Community Foundation of Louisville and Claudia Peralta-Mudd of U of L’s Latin American and Latino Studies Steering Committee. The Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism exhibition will be up through Mother’s Day, but the lens applied by these Louisville luminaries is a one-night-only event.
April 20th’s menu by Wiltshire at the Speed Art Museum will be tacos, ceviche, Mexican street corn, and guacamole with tortilla chips while supplies last. Cash bars throughout the Museum bring you event sponsor Old Forester’s featured drink: the Old Forester Sparkler with Angostura bitters, ginger ale, and lemon peel.
When: Friday, April 20, 5:00-10:00
More information: http://www.speedmuseum.org/event/after-hours-at-the-speed-7/