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 » Home » Scene » Arts and Leisure Sunday, March 27, 2005
'Forging Ahead'
Contemporary iron and steel work moves far beyond the humble horseshoe

If you go

'Forging Ahead: Contemporary American Blacksmiths'

When: Friday through June 18. Reception: 5-7:30 p.m. April 14.

Where: Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, 715 W. Main St., Louisville.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Related events: Copper repoussé workshops with Craig Kaviar at 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 16 and May 14 at the museum. The cost is $50 each. Repoussé refers to techniques for hammering metal into a relief. For reservations or more information, call (502) 589-0102.
By Diane Heilenman
The Courier-Journal


If you guess that's a new hip-hop lyric or a Lewis Carroll poem, guess again.

It's the sound of a new generation of arty smiths putting a sharp edge on the ironworker's anvil. The point is hammered home with "Forging Ahead: Contemporary American Blacksmiths," an exhibit that opens Friday at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft during the 5 to 9 p.m. First Friday gallery hop in downtown Louisville.

Fifty contemporary iron artists, ironworkers, sculptors or artist blacksmiths (no one has quite settled on a catchy name for these practitioners yet) have been invited to present works that range from monumental gates and the padlocks to secure them to a gracefully twining music stand.

Many of the artists represented are affiliated with relatively new organizations such as ABANA, the Artists Blacksmith's Association of North America, which was founded in 1973 and was the inspiration in 1974 for BABA, the British Artist Blacksmiths Association. BAM is the Blacksmiths Association of Missouri, which, like many such organizations, incorporates makers of horseshoes and wrought iron as well as studio iron artists.

A "Whisper Bench" for the garden that will be part of "Forging Ahead" carries a twisting sound tube-cum-armrest that permits bench sitters to converse quietly. It's a creation of noted Greensboro, N.C., artist blacksmith Jim Gallucci, who also did a monumental "Sound Gate" on the same principle for a public park in Raleigh.

The new generation of artist anvil-bangers can bring jewel like qualities to their metalwork. The ancient art of layering and patterning metals, loosely called damascening, appears in a ferociously futuristic "Arabesque Blade" by April Franklin of Farmington, Ga. Louisville's own Craig Kaviar is represented by his elegantly linear "Wheat Table."

Other Kentucky artists selected by museum curator Brion Clinkingbeard are Lewis Meyer and Danny Downs of  Louisville and  Erika Strecker and Tony Higdon, both of Lexington. They recently collaborated on a 40-foot-tall public sculpture for the front of the new Kentucky Transportation Cabinet building in downtown Frankfort.

"Forging Ahead," which includes essay panels on the history of blacksmithing and artist blacksmithing, may be one of the largest exhibitions ever of contemporary iron and steel work, according to the Art and Craft Museum. It is also a traveling exhibition.

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