an elite class
for Kentucky capitol exhibition
Helen E. McKinney
SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (March 2007) For visual artist
Michael Thomas McCardwell, art has always been a way to deal with
the things that interest you. McCardwell is part of a group of
select artists whose work temporarily adorns the Capitol Annex building
in Frankfort, Ky. This elite group also included artist Emmy Houweling
of New Castle, Ky.
by Helen E. McKinney
Thomas McCardwell displays
a still life painting. His artwork hanging
in the Capitol is more like the pen and
ink drawing pictured below.
McCardwell has taken his interests and transferred them
onto paper, thus generating a response to his ideas through his pen
on paper technique. Although he has worked in different mediums such
as oil and watercolor, McCardwell chose pen on paper to capture the
distorted look of reality in A Pleasant Scene.
In this drawing of an imagined scene, the artist used distortion to
play with space and scale. The result is a collage of images a person
could recognize, but ones that might not usually be put together.
Visitors to the Capitol can see McCardwells work hanging alongside
25 additional artists from 14 Kentucky counties. This visual art exhibit
of 36 pieces entitled Kentucky Visions at the Capitol was
unveiled Feb. 6 and will hang through the duration of the 2007 session
of the General Assembly.
Mediums displayed include photography, oil, watercolor, pastel and acrylics
on canvas. Artists who have artwork in the exhibit have previously been
accepted into the Kentucky Arts Councils Visual Arts at the Market
Program or awarded the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship.
It is a chance to see a wide variety of artwork produced in Kentucky,
said Ed Lawrence, Public Information Officer for the Kentucky Arts Council.
The artwork was displayed upon the invitation of the Senate Majority
Leadership offices. This area of the Capitol is in the midst of a renovation
process, with the Senate floor completed except for bare walls.
Its a good opportunity to key into the Kentucky Arts Council
and the programs they have, said Lawrence. The exhibit was devised
at the request of Sen. Dan Kelly, Majority Floor Leader, who is lobbying
to have the budget include funding for artwork.
The most unique aspect lies in where the artwork is displayed, said
Lawrence. It hangs in the halls of the Senate and Senate Leadership
But McCardwell, 57, is no stranger to having his artwork represented
in a variety of places. He has pieces in private collections in the
United States, Europe and Japan. His work has been juried into shows
in California, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Always interested in art, McCardwell had no idea how it would factor
into his career. He earned a B.F.A. from Murray State University, an
M.A. from Morehead State University and a teaching certification from
the University of Louisville.
He has taught art at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System
campus in Shelbyville, Spalding University in Louisville, and at the
former Shelbyville branch of Lindsey Wilson College. He was also a studio
art and humanities teacher for 27 years at Henry County High School
and taught basic skills such as reading, math and English at the Kentucky
State Reformatory in La Grange to inmates who may not have had a lot
of educational opportunities.
McCardwell, born in Shelbyville, has done freelance work for various
companies in Louisville. He produced drawings for newspaper ads, which
would be known today as clip art. He draws inspiration from looking
at other peoples work, feedback and things he reads which suggest
different questions he wants to pursue.
Some of McCardwells work is exhibited in Shelbyville at Shelby
Artists on Main, a co-op gallery. His artwork there is more realistic-looking
that the piece that hangs presently in the Kentucky Visions
exhibit at the Capitol, said McCardwell.
When it comes to a sense of style or other artists that he admires,
McCardwell is interested in the style of the Chicago imagists Andre
Malraux, Dante and Jim Nutt. He has received two National Endowment
for the Humanities fellowships.
There are so many talented artists out there and so much competition
that McCardwell has found it difficult at times to market his work as
a visual artist. The goal of the Kentucky Arts Council is to try to
change this through business and marketing training.
McCardwell said he is just thankful for the chance given him from the
Kentucky Arts Council and the Senate to participate in this exhibit.
All of the artwork is for sale with prices ranging from $100 for photo
prints to $16,000 for paintings. The total value of the artwork is $73,196.
For more information on the exhibit, contact
Ed Lawrence at (502) 564-3757, ext. 473. To view more of McCardwells
artwork, visit: www.southernartistry.org.
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