Smoketown Arts



Supported by funds from IDEAS 40203 / YouthBuild Louisville’s ArtPlace America grant to foster a “Creative Innovation Zone” in Smoketown.  The Creative Innovation Zone utilizes art and artists to support workforce development, job skills training, green space development and community-focused cultural production in and around Sheppard Square.

Smoketown Arts is a series of collaborations between IDEAS 40203 and Louisville Visual Arts Association, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft , the Kentucky School of Art and The Kentucky Center for Performing Arts


The Smoketown Poetry Opera

Before the Sheppard Square housing development was torn down in 2011 as part of a federal HOPE VI project, Lavel White, a 27-year-old local documentary filmmaker and former resident, interviewed members of the Sheppard Square community. Those interviews would eventually be turned into the film More than Bricks and Mortar: The Sheppard Square Story. The film serves as the artistic backbone of new spoken word opera that took place on October 2, 2014 as an affiliate event of Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation’s IdeaFestival. Click here to view photos.



Tough & Universal

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we
cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense
but as a state of being, or a state of grace … the tough and universal sense of
quest and daring and growth.”

— James Baldwin “The Fire Next Time”

Inspired by the James Baldwin quote from his book. “The Fire Next Time”, the Tough & Universal project is a collaboration of the Louisville Visual Arts Association, IDEAS 40203, Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft and YouthBuild Louisville.

Torn between reality and hope, Baldwin’s book pleads for Americans to reject the delusion of the value placed in the color of skin. He admits what “I am asking is impossible,” but adds that “human history… testifies to the perpetual achievement of the impossible.”

During the Kentuckian’s For the Commonwealth’s recent Smoketown Getdown for Democracy, artists Carrie Burr and Joen Pallesen made photographic portraits of Smoketown residents who wanted to participate in the collaborative project. The photos are being made into giant wheat paste posters and affixed to the side of YouthBuild Louisville’s workforce development center on Preston Street at Lampton.

On October 2, this large, temporary collage will serve as the entrance to the Smoketown Poetry Opera – a performance event telling the story of the Sheppard Square housing development.

Click here to view photos.


Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH)

On Thursday, October 30 at 7pm in the Bates Memorial Baptist Church Worship Center in Smoketown (Lampton Street), DTH will be conducting an introductory movement workshop with a few people who live, work, worship and learn in our neighborhood.  The DTH workshop, open for free viewing by the public, is part of IDEAS 40203 and YouthBuild Louisville’s Creative Innovation Zone project funded by ArtPlace America.

DTH will be performing on Nov 1,2014 at The Kentucky Center.  Click here for more info.


Crafting the Future with KMAC’s Mobile Museums

Time: 4pm-6pm
Location Announced Soon
Oct. 31 Visual Communication
Nov 28 Folk Art
Dec 26 printmaking
Jan 30 basketry
Feb 27 fiber art
Mar 27 ceramics

As part of IDEAS 40203 / YouthBuild Louisville’s ArtPlace America grant to foster a “Creative Innovation Zone” in Smoketown, Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft will provide art activities stemming from its Mobile Museums which are suitcases containing original KY artwork based on various media.  Using lessons plans from the mobile museums and media such as wheat paste posters, printmaking, basketry, fiber art, and clay, participants will explore various relevant topics to the neighborhood like cultural identity and local history while making their own art work.  As part of special “Made In Smoketown” exhibition, participants will be invited to display artwork at KMAC for the first Friday Trolley Hops. This will be open to all ages and limited to the first 25 participants who arrive each session.


Living It!

In fall 2014, Louisville Visual Arts Association (LVAA), in collaboration with IDEAS 40203, will be working with young people in Sheppard Square and the surrounding Smoketown neighborhoods  to create a new project that combines poetry, photography and creative entrepreneurship.  The projects is called Living It!.

LVAA and IDEAS 40203 will pair 9 students with 3 photographers to create photographic portraits of how each student would define and envision their professional future in a world with no limits.

Through the visual arts and poetry workshops, taught by the group of African American poets who created the Smoketown Poetry Opera, the students will realize what it would be to see their own personal vision of the future.

In addition to the poets, the students will work with professional photographers, wardrobe, hair and make-up, set designers and community leaders to achieve this portrait. The image created of the student will develop an empowering, yet permeant image of the highest expression of themselves.

Living It! is supported by funds from IDEAS 40203 / YouthBuild Louisville’s 2014-15 ArtPlace America grant for “Creative Innovation Zone”.

Living It! is inspired by NYC’s Art Start’s Portrait Project.

A completed series of portraits of will be on exhibition at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville Gallery during February, African American History Month.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s