Go up the imposing staircase at Thompson House, continue past the second floor and on to the third, and you’ll be in the Thompson House Shooting Gallery, where art is the weapon at hand.
A change of management at what used to be Southgate House has resulted in the new name for the music venue and for its art gallery component. But why “Shooting Gallery?” Ever hear of the Tommy gun? The lightweight, murderously effective hand-held weapon was invented around World War I by John Thompson, descendent of Richard Southgate who in the early 19th century added to his two-room log cabin, building around it to complete the mansion we see today. Visitors to this house would include Henry Clay, who aspired to be president of the United States, and James Polk, Zachary Taylor and Abraham Lincoln, all of whom did become president.The best known of these has been going on
Newly appointed gallery co-curators Jennifer Feld and Jen Edwards chose to overlook the high-level visits in favor of the wordplay of “Thompson Shooting Gallery.” The two had not known one another before they accepted the joint collaboration, but “we clicked immediately,” says Edwards.
Feld returned to the area from graduate school in Utah earlier this year; a friend asked her if she might be interested in curating at Thompson House. Edwards recounts that a casual acquaintance suggested she might be interested. The proposals fell on fertile ground. Both curators agree that each contributes individual elements to their Shooting Gallery projects. Their first exhibition featured three artists, Marc Lincewicz, Maxwell Redder and Cedric Cox and went up in June, followed by a group show called All the Usual Suspects in July. Hot Off the Press: Lexington Printmakers Show opens 7-11 p.m. this Saturday and will feature Kentucky-based artists Derrick Riley, Perry Hooks and Jeff Rial.
The three artists “are all amazing and accomplished print makers who have shown all over the country,” Feld says.
Except for opening nights, the gallery is now open only by appointment or for special events, a situation the co-curators hope to change. They are looking into having either interns or volunteers supervise additional open hours, but as yet there is no plan in place. Those wishing to schedule an appointment, or perhaps to volunteer, may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programming, however, adds to the total of open hours. Drawing Night is scheduled to take place 7-11 p.m. Aug. 15, with a figure model for participants to work with. People taking part are asked to bring their own supplies and to contribute $5 toward the model fee. Billed as “Drink and Draw Evenings,” these open drawing sessions are planned to take place in the gallery space once a month. The room is a large rectangle, commodious enough to house a model and artists with ease. Registration can be made through the above email address.
Shows are up for four weeks, with a new one opening the first Saturday of each month. The schedule already is established through December. On Sept. 1 The Hunting Season, billed as “an interpretive group show of more than 20 artists,” will open, with the usual hours. Midway through the show, on Sept. 15, a poetry reading is scheduled, an idea suggested by one of the exhibition’s artists. That evening, still in the planning stages, will include “Reading of poetry, short stories and comedy [by] Maxwell Redder, Adam Shobert, Dan O’Donnell and Karl Spaeth,” Feld says. She adds that other readers are invited to take part. “Anyone interested in reading that night can contact me.”
Both curators are artists themselves and have day jobs with art connections. They take turns curating the Shooting Gallery shows. “We support each other,” Edwards says. “We each know different artists.” Occasionally they include their own work. Feld, whose art could be seen in the July show, says she “combines drawing and painting on paper with found objects. Each work tells a story. I prefer for people to figure out the story on their own … or to come up with a new one!”
Edwards will be in The Hunting Season in September. She calls herself as “a yarn bombshell artist … it’s a new medium for me. Really fun.” She also makes what she describes as “low rent puppets,” objects of art rather than performers but “they have wire matrices and can strike poses.”
October will bring a seasonal Halloween show to the Shooting Gallery; in November and December solo shows will be in order. Work by Sara Pearce, former Cincinnati Enquirer reporter and critic turned collage artist, will be seen in November, and St. Louis-based Tom Huck, a visual artist working with large-scale woodcuts will be featured in December.
Feld and Edwards are enthusiastic about the quality of art being made in this region and, in fact, all over the country. They delight in developing the Shooting Gallery as a showplace for what’s going on now in the art world. Artists interested in being included in upcoming exhibitions may submit portfolios, links to their websites or images of artwork created in the last three years via email
HOT OFF THE PRESS: LEXINGTON PRINTMAKERS SHOW opens 7-11 p.m. Saturday at the Thompson House Shooting Gallery, 24 E. Third St., Newport, 513- 460-1844, thompsonhousenewport.com, email@example.com.