Portland gallery creates space for art and activism

Portland gallery creates space for art and activism
1619 Flux (Source: WAVE 3 News/ Jeff Knight)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - When you think of an art gallery, you might picture a place for hushed and proper conversations. That's not what the owner of one gallery in the Portland neighborhood is trying to create.

Kara Nichols grew up in Louisville, but moved to New York, San Diego, and Chicago before returning home with a vision.

"I came across this building," Nichols said. "It was a warehouse. It was an empty warehouse. No windows. No lights in here."

She pictured the Portland warehouse as a space where people could come together to learn from and about each other.

"Goal is we need to bring people together from diverse backgrounds whether that's your sexual orientation, your race, where your neighborhood is," Nichols said.

It would be a place always evolving, or in flux. That's how 1619 Flux came to be.

The walls showcase the work of local artists like LaNia Roberts.

"I was not seen as someone who could go off and follow their dreams," Roberts said.

Now she's doing just that as a senior at Syracuse University, getting her degree in painting. She hopes her work on these walls will inspire children who grew up where she did, in the West End.

"This would have been amazing exposure for me," Roberts said. "And I'm so happy that it's here in this space so it can be exposure for communities now."

Gwendolyn Kelly goes by the title Community Curator for the gallery. She finds artwork created by local artists, like the large piece currently hanging in the gallery by Bryan Holden, made out of old computer keyboards.

Kelly, who lives in the California neighborhood and grew up in Russell neighborhood, says Flux is a positive influence in the community.

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"It is important that we consciously create more of those spaces and when there are spaces like this we make sure people know that they exist," Kelly said.

A space for art, activism and conversations.

"We all need to care about all areas of our city and have those conversations around what issues are holding our city back from being as wonderful as it can be," Nichols said.

On Feb. 7, Flux's Connecting Conversations series continues. The focus of the conversation will be on transforming vacant spaces into useful places.

The next exhibit will be at the end of March featuring artists primarily from the West End of Louisville.

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