My stop in Frankfort, Kentucky was greatly aided by friend and fellow sculptor Melanie Van Houten of Josephine Sculpture Park. Josephine is the ancestral home of Mel's family where she has curated a vast collection of contemporary sculpture. I am honored to say I am in the collection and look forward to seeing Josephine grow through her dedication. Thank you Mel for all your contributions in helping promote my tour in Frankfort.
Frankfort is the state capitol of Kentucky (not Louisville) and is a quaint tight knit community. A very historic downtown sits between two editions of capitol buildings in the Kentucky River Gorge. It is a community where everyone knows everyone else and many of Mel's friends came out see my traveling art show at the local coffee shop. A mild political discussion ensued and was sassily summarized before it really went anywhere. You have to understand the state of Kentucky is under the influence of a governor elected by about 20% of the population. A governor who had no previous political experience, one who ran on an anti-obama ticket. The populace of the state's capitol has little interests in politics since they sit at the center of a sucking torrent of backwards leadership. They get the politics of it all and live through it everyday with a gracious spirit.
I had the pleasure of meeting many of Frankfort's local artist and they appreciated having opportunity participate in my project. One gentleman explained he worked for the state's department of children and families. As the conversation went, I asked how often he saw, in rural Kentucky, abuse of the support system. He replied only once in about 8 years of working in that office did he see someone actively taking advantage of benefits. He explained that most people want to get off the assistance as quick as they can, their pride motivates them, and that they're generally grateful for being able to get help. Throughout my travels, I often hear about abuses in the system as a reason why we need a certain candidate, but when I get close to the reality of it all, it much less than what is perceived.
While I Frankfort I was invited to Kentucky State University to get the impressions of their incoming students. KSU is a historic black college with a small student body that comes from all over the nation. Classes were not in session yet, but I did get to interact with some of the faculty and students.
The kids were very adamant about their disgust for Donald Trump. When i asked if they were going to vote, most were unprepared explaining they're not in their home and it would be difficult to cast their ballot. I pressed, "Even at the risk of Trump getting elected?" Shrugs. I can't blame them, but our right to complain is directly attached to our level of involvement, no excuses. One young lady couldn't believe the back of the flags' statement "Make American Paint Again" wasn't Trump's slogan. She thought it was too close to his moniker and felt it promoted him even if it wasn't accurate. And with a bit of reflection, I suspect that when I hear the big rigs toot their passing horns, them truckers are probably reading "Make America...." before they blow by, not even gathering that I am not promoting Trump. Might be time for a new mural....
I had the pleasure of meeting James, an African immigrant, who is homeless. He was at KSU helping promote the local homeless shelter for student volunteers. All the invited groups were hosted by KSU for lunch and I got to listen to James's story. He came from the Ivory Coast when his family had enough money to send him. But once he got here, being away from his family, he didn't get the same kind of attention and care from his hosts. He subsequently ended up on the streets, trying to get his life back together. James had nothing but respect and positivity coming out of him. His gratitude was bountiful for being here in America, even though his road is difficult, he reflects on his journey knowing his life is much better than what it was in Africa. So many Americans never have to journey away from home, and when we do, we go for privileged adventure and not survival. I am trying to keep my adventure objective and focused on collecting expressions, but I often want to tell Americans how lucky they have it, how they should consider how much harder life is in other places.
Maybe I make some buttons: "Grateful to be American"