Greg: Welcome to this edition of Perspectives, our real estate series, brought to you by Louisville’s luxury real estate brokerage, Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty. I’m Greg Fleischaker, your host, and today I’m joined by Ashley Brossart, a visiting artist who is currently installing her work in anticipation of her open house here on May 12th in our office at 3803 Brownsboro Road. Ashley, it’s nice to meet you, how are you this morning?
Ashley: I’m doing well. It’s great to be here.
Greg: You are a Louisville girl, right?
Greg: Born and raised?
Ashley: Born and raised, I have not managed to escape.
Greg: You’ve tried a couple times. I’m curious where you tried to escape to and what brought you back.
Ashley: After finishing high school, I attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati, which is a small private school. It’s about, I think there’s about 300 students at the time. After my first semester there, I was kind of just itching to get into studio practice. I went to high school at Sacred Heart, and they have a really excellent art program. I kind of developed this body of work and feel for just working independently. I was really motivated on my own. I came back from Cincinnati and I had a studio at this place called The Cinder Block on Main Street. I just started working independently.
Greg: You knew from a young age that you wanted to be an artist?
Greg: How young? What were some of your first projects? It sounds like maybe even before high school.
Ashley: I’ve always just dabbled in it. I never really thought of it as a career until I was later into my, being a teenager. When I was in grade school, or I guess you would call it middle school, I was a Girl Scout for a really long time, and one of our big projects that we had to do, you have to do a lot of service hours in that program. We painted some murals around the grade school, and I was what you would call the lead artist, which is a really neat experience. I was always just making, creative things, creative problem solving. I was always just doing that in the background. I wasn’t gung-ho, I want to start a career in this right now, I just kind of always did it. It wasn’t until later I molded it into more of a business.
Greg: Was that a conscious decision at some point, or have you just taken it one step at a time and found yourself in a position where now it is a career?
Ashley: Well, I basically had to kind of switch my mentality and take on a little bit more of a sense of professionalism about it after I finished my undergraduate degree. I’d always just been making and selling work and exhibiting in different locations, but once I was finished with school, I found myself with a lot more time and a lot more ability to focus more on it. That conscious decision kind of changed things and really got some momentum going, which is good.
Greg: I interrupted your story earlier about where else but Louisville you had visited before coming back. Who knows, maybe you’ll take off somewhere else in some number of time, but it seems like you’re back here for a little while, so where else did you go?
Ashley: About a year after I finished undergrad, I had a friend that lived in San Francisco, and being kind of, I didn’t have much going on after I finished undergrad, so I thought I would just head out there and stay with them and see if I could make it work. It’s always been my dream to live on the west coast, I love San Francisco, I love the energy out there at that time. Just thought it was really neat, eclectic place to live. The walk-ability is amazing, all those different aspects I’m really drawn to. I was out there for about 3 or 4 months, and I was set on moving. I whittled all of my belongings down to just enough and just got a one way ticket and went out there. I was making art while I was out there just out of a bag doing drawings and leaving around the city.
I ended up getting a job at a Whole Foods, so I did manage to work all of that out, but at the last moment where it was like, you have to decide between getting an apartment and coming back to Louisville, I chose to come back to Louisville, because I really wanted to focus on making art. I knew that that was going to be a long way off if I stayed in San Francisco, so I came back here because I knew that I could focus and I could take risks. The cost of living is lower.
Greg: I’m curious to explore that a little bit, is it the live-ability of the city of Louisville, the cost like you mentioned, or is it the artistic freedom that you’re afforded by not having to worry about working at Whole Foods or… what is it that now makes Louisville so attractive to you?
Ashley: Well, it’s definitely the second part of what you said. When I was in San Francisco, I kind of gained a different perspective on Louisville, and it was really interesting because I realized that even though the art scene is not huge here, and there’s not, we’re not in a place such as Chicago or New York City and there’s huge museums and these really big galleries and stuff, but what is here is this amazing ability, you can take more creative risk, I feel like, and spend more time. I feel like you’re bargaining your time is a lot different because, just because of the ease of I guess access to different locations and as well as you can drive across the city in no time. It just seemed a lot more available to just be able to work on art every single day and work a job, because for a long time I worked in restaurants…
Greg: Which we have plenty of.
Ashley: Yeah, and that’s a great example of what I’m trying to summarize is I think that what’s happening in the food scene here, there’s a lot more restaurants taking the creative cuisine risks and really molding this concept of what Louisville food is, as far as the southern thing. I think there’s a space for that to happen for artists as well, for visual artists. I know it’s happening with the orchestra and the ballet’s collaborating, we’re all developing this new identity. It’s almost like Louisville’s having a little renaissance, which is pretty neat.
Greg: I love that. Where in Louisville do you work? Do you find that you’re actually living in or working in a neighborhood that reminds you of San Francisco, or is it totally that’s a past chapter, now you’re onto Louisville? Do you get some inspiration from your neighborhood, or do you go all around the city for inspiration?
Ashley: Oh yeah, I definitely go all around the city. I-
Greg: At some point, we have to describe your work so people know what’s going on.
Ashley: Definitely, definitely.
Greg: I asked 20 questions at once, you can just go through them.
Ashley: I grew up in Hikes Point, which is a little bit further east of downtown and our urban core. Most of my life I was really curious about what it was like outside of a suburb. Once I could finally drive, I always found myself in the Highlands and just park my car and walk around, that kind of thing. I’ve always lived in that little Germantown, the Highlands, or I lived in lower Clifton for awhile. Right now, I live in the original Highlands, which I love. I think it’s probably my favorite neighborhood, it’s great. I can walk anywhere, I’m close to downtown. Hop on my bicycle, and it’s beautiful too.
Greg: Yes. Always lots of inspiration, lots of different people, lots of different events, lots of everything in the Highlands.
Ashley: Oh, definitely. Definitely. I mean, I think it’s a good mix. There’s always events going on. The architecture’s amazing, but there’s so many spots in Louisville that have a really unique, look and perspective. It’s always really interesting.
Greg: You’ve mentioned architecture a couple times now. Why don’t we go ahead and talk about your work and the tie between your art and architecture, and what drew you to it and your interpretation of architecture and how that shows up in city life, and how it shows up in your art.
Ashley: It kind of started out, I guess we can go all the way back. I attended this program called Governor’s School for the Arts when I was in high school, I think I was a junior, and you have to apply for this program and it’s a 3-week summer intensive and ou get to stay on a college campus…
Greg: It’s really hard to get into.
Ashley: It’s really hard. I actually tried the year before and I didn’t get in, so then I was kind of determined. I ended up getting accepted, I’d spent my whole high school career kind of waiting to get this opportunity. What was very interesting is that I’ve always been a painter, and that was the medium I was most drawn to, especially then because I hadn’t been exposed to very much else, but it was the first year for the architecture program at Governor’s School for the Arts, and they just kind of put me in that program. I remember getting there the first day, and I remember feeling like, “I should be with the painters. I don’t want to be an architect, why do they have me in this program?” I was so outside of my comfort zone, but it was the best experience for me. It wasn’t until years later, after college, that I kind of realized there was oh, I learned all these skills in that couple set of weeks, this different way of looking at things.
I’ve been applying them, but I was never really totally conscious of how those played into my work, which was really interesting. I think about that a lot, I think that’s what sparked my interest in the architecture and urban theory type of thing, but it didn’t come into play until after I was out of undergraduate.
Greg: I think that’s such a funny story. There are so many instances in my life, and I hear it all the time, where you get exposed to something early and then often, and then you don’t realize until later that oh, that really did have an influence, or it takes awhile to see. You have to see the same thing over and over and over before you actually get it and able to turn it into what you were hoping to turn it into.
Ashley: Oh, definitely.
Greg: All right, why don’t you try to- and good luck with this- explain your visual work in audio. For the people who are listening, what can they expect to see? What size is your work? How do you make it? It draws you in, it looks like a layered work, and it looks like there’s some depth to it. What are people looking at, how do you do it? The scale threw me off, a couple of them were smaller than I had thought based on pictures, and a couple were quite a bit larger than I thought. I believe you have to see art, but for people who aren’t going to make it or want to make it to your opening, what can they expect?
Ashley: Sure. My work is basically inspired by whatever environment I’m living in or experiencing, so if I go on a trip or something, I always take photos. I constantly take photos of the city. Then what I do is I kind of collage these photos together, either digitally or actually physically cutting them apart and putting them back together in another shape. What I’m doing is I’m recreating the summary of an environment, visually, on a two-dimensional surface, kind of bend that. It’s a little bit more three-dimensional, but not totally sculptural. I’m creating a summary of an environment, so you’ll see little pieces or snapshots of different areas all combined.
Greg: When you say you’re creating a summary, does that mean you’re trying to put together maybe what a day in that environment was for you, or more of the general feeling or atmosphere? What do you mean by creating a summary of an environment?
Ashley: I wouldn’t say it’s totally based on a feeling, but I basically like finding patterns within a variety of photographs of an area. Sometimes I’ll do multiple locations together, but it’s just finding patterns of the different shapes. This is the most simple way to explain it, but the various shapes and the habits of the environment.
Greg: It sound like we were talking before that you started to introduce some, a little bit more three-dimensionality to your work, not necessarily, I’m not talking about the layering of the pictures and the collaging, I’m not sure, what’s the sheen, what do you put on the-
Ashley: Right now I’m using a resin.
Greg: a resin, but some of the works have an added three-dimensional piece. Is that a direction you’re looking to head? Is that just piece-by-piece?
Ashley: Yeah, so for this show in particular, every time I do a show I try to take a creative risk just to see what will happen, I think it’s very important. For this show, I’ve been wanting to add some sculptural elements. I’ve done it a little bit in the past, but nothing that I’ve really exhibited in any way. Yes, it’s definitely a path I’m on, I’ve been on for awhile, but it’s finally taking hold now. I’ve found some different materials I enjoy using, and the sculpture aspect is another way of playing with the space that, and right now, the space for me is two-dimensional surface and the photographs together, and then the line work. I’m hoping in the future that the space is actually our physical space when we’re doing, and I’m creating installations.
Greg: If someone’s listening and they’re interested in coming to see the work, just to be clear, your Opening Reception in the artwork in general for however long you’re up on the wall, open to the public. You do not need to be a client, a current client, a future client, of Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, to stop by and come to the reception or come stop in the office, but if someone’s listening and they’d like to see your work, when is the reception? Are you going to be here?
Ashley: Yeah, I’m definitely going to be here.
Greg: All right, I knew the answer to that, I was just asking, hopefully you can tell me.
Ashley: May 12th, Thursday, 5 PM.
Greg: May 12th, there we go. If someone wants to see maybe a website or see some of your other work, where else have you exhibited?
Ashley: A number of different places. Actually when you say that, it’s kind of… The Quills coffee shop right now, I’m doing a rotating show. That’s another one of my challenges. I just like to try new things. Those coffee shops are located on Baxter Avenue in the Highlands, and then New Albany, there’s one on Cardinal Boulevard. I’ve also exhibited the Carnegie and New Albany, and a group show at the Brown Hotel. Just Revelrie Boutique and Crafts Gallery, just a number of different places…
Greg: If someone wants to get a hold of you for maybe a private installation or a piece of work or something that they would like to purchase from you, what’s the best way to reach you?
Ashley: Email is fantastic, it’s Art@AshleyBrossart.com, that’s obviously my website as well, AshleyBrossart.com.
Greg: Wonderful. So nice to meet you, thanks so much for coming in today.
Ashley: Yeah, thank you. It was great.