Lexington is home to the University of Kentucky and many of my artist kinfolk. Hard working metal artists have been coming out of the UK for decades and I have attended many events correlated with sculpture creation. Two talented colleagues, Jeremy Colbert & Andy Light, who I attended graduate school with, are based here and it was great to get their perspectives on my project and the American Expressions of Lexington.
The visit to Lexington provided my first encounter with displeasure in regards to my project. To be polite, names and locations will be omitted. As with every other stop, I hit the ground running and had to rely upon my host, Andy, to help garner locations for posting up the flag. We brainstormed on a couple places with the parameters for a good stop, foot traffic and parking, and were easily satisfied by going to one of the many breweries located in Lexington. Andy began to put out the feelers and soon we jumped in the rig to go show off the project. Sure enough, we found a great spot outside a brewery with big glass windows and the promise of a busy Thursday night. We went inside and spoke with one of the partners. "All good man, but check with dude." We proceeded to check with dude, showed him the project and got his enthusiastic approval. To celebrate we decided to enjoy one of their fine products and headed to the taproom. We were half way through our pints when a fella came in and quickly approached Andy saying, "You've got to get that thing out of here." Mind you, we're parked on a public street, which gives him exactly zero authority to regulate who parks there. As this guy proceeds to berate Andy I hear him say, "That thing says 'All lives matter' on it, do you know this is a culturally sensitive neighborhood?" Without introduction, I interject "Hey, it's a free country. Do you know what's going on?" Didn't matter, decision made, you guys gotta go. This experience was not exceptional in my displeasure because I expected some people to be upset with the project. What made this encounter particularly disgusting was the shallow defense of cultural sensitivity by a business owner who is actively gentrifying the neighborhood he claims to protect. This false outrage at public discourse is simply the embedded guilt of this exploitive enterprising charlatan. Why not put your brewery somewhere with higher property taxes, so you can better help your overall community? Or even better, take two minutes, introduce yourself, get the whole story, and then contemplate if you really are the neighborhood decider in chief. I would recommend the beer, but is has a tremendously smug aftertaste.
American Expressions moved onto more receptive pastures down at The Burl where we met Eddie, the manager of this new Lexington music venue. He gladly accepted our offer to bring some political art to his Thursday night event, a dub-step concert. I personally am not familiar with the dub-step, but it is a subgenera of EDM (electric dance music) so you get the picture of ravers, neo-hippies, LED hoola-hoops, and dilated pupils to scrappy dance beats. We had some good interaction, but it is often the case people want to party and not be consumed with political discourse. This was a representative group of the 70% of people who don't vote in our country, who could care less, have other interests, like "fun", and generally scoff at the idea of responsibility. I was once like this, so I cannot blame them too much, but I'm glad I grew out of it. Many thanks to Eddie for being a great host.
The second day in Lexington provide a great venue and interactive opportunity. American Expressions garnered a spot at the Warehouse District Block Party with the generous help of party director Chad. A wonderfully diverse event, we had all types of people participate and share their thoughts on the flag.
This day was a strong calling to the ladies. I met many women who did not hesitate to share their feelings and even proceed to add responses to other expressions. I had a dialog with a pair of women adorned in Hillary garb that expressed their admiration for the ascent of the feminine perspective to power. It was pointed out to me, with the election of Ms.Clinton, three of the world's great powers will be run by women: US, UK, GDR. The pride these ladies expressed at finally having their genders' wisdom in charge around the world was inspiring. Their departing thought was to conceive of global leadership that resists the sword and instead chooses peaceful solutions. We shall see, ladies, we shall see.
Not long after this uplifting discussion I spoke with two other women, girls rather, with braces and stylish tattered denim, must have been 13 or 14 years old. Their expressions were telling: "I do not need a man to make me happy" & "Do they love you because you're naked or are you naked because they love you?" The contrast to the previous participants couldn't have been more stark. Two mature ladies relishing in the advancements of gender equality opposite the two tweeners experiencing the engrained gender exploitation painted the arcing struggle for women's independence. It was difficult for me to engage these young ladies knowing their future is hemmed and possibly destined by provincial traditional gender roles. I pointed out to them the expressions of the older generation, the independence, the advancements, the confidence, but before they could answer, they were swept away by cellphone alerts, boys, wanting to know where they were at. Good luck ladies, meet and listen to your elders. They're going to help you much more than boys.