Jul 6, 2016
I arrived in Paducah on July 1 for a month-long residency at A.I.R. Studio at 621 Madison St, part of the Lower Town arts district of Paducah.
I proposed and came prepared to focus on installation art part of my art practice during this residency. I came in with some seeds of ideas but no preconceived ideas of what I was going to create here. I find exploring an area and feeding off the vibe, spirit, history, and culture to fuel my installations leads to more exciting and inspired work.
Researching Paducah from afar had so many seeds to explore.
Its history and connections with the expansion west of the US, its neutral role in the Civil War.
Personally, the fact my family has a long history of living along the Ohio River offered potential to explore. And in doing research, there is a connection between Paducah, KY and Ypsilanti, MI (the city where I live) as part of the history of the "Hillbilly Highway" - the I-75/US-23 roads connecting Appalachia with Detroit as the workers migrated from Appalachia to Detroit and surrounding areas in the early 1900s to work in the automotive industry. One person I talked to mentioned there was a bus that ran from Ypsilanti to Paducah on Friday afternoons to bring the men home from the car plants and the aircraft bomber plant for the weekend and drive them back on Sundays.
Paducah offers such a rich and fertile history, cuturally and personally, to dig into and explore for installations.
I'm looking forward to digging in fast and deep to create.
In packing up the truck with supplies for the residency, I had a tough time limiting myself. One, the drive was too long to think, "I can always drive back and get more stuff if I need." This was a once here and once back kind of trip so I had to be selective about what I thought I'd need and what I thought I'd work on while here. If you've seen my studio space and know how I work on multiple projects at once, this was a challenge for me to try to stay focused.
I embrace that challenge. One month isn't very long to dig in, create, and then pack up.
On Sunday, I went to the Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah to see "Miles Ahead", Don Cheadle's movie about Miles Davis. The reviews fo the movie were mixed and the interview he did with Rolling Stone all gave me pause. But it seemed like a movie I wanted to see in a theater. And I'm glad I did. The movie was interesting in a good way. I'm not all that familar with Davis' music as I've never taken the time to study it. And I know the movie is a fictionalized story of the years that Davis stopped making music. As a creative, the "what happens when you run out of things to say" is a giant ledge you don't look forward to standing on. Cheadle's idea of making a movie about a movie that Davis would have wanted to be a lead in is actually pretty entertaining. And if I'm correct, it would seem that the "modern day" scenes were filmed digitally but the flashback scenes were filmed on film. Which if is true, was a subtle technic that was genius.
Anyway, Miles Ahead. If you have a chance to see it. Go, but go with the idea of being entertained. It's not a documentary. It's a different kind of story than you've seen before.
And when you're in Paducah, make sure to check out the Maiden Alley Cinema for movies or concerts. It's a great, intimate venue.