Falls Art Foundry is built on the sculpture legacy and work of the Bright Foundry and its founder, sculptor Barney Bright (1927- 1997). Founded by Barney and later sold to his son, Jep, “the foundry,” as it was referred to, began in the mid 70’s and closed in early 2016. Shortly thereafter, three former employees, Tamina Karem, Scott Boyer and Matt Weir reestablished this informal arts institution as Falls Art Foundry. Their vision is the proportional balance of the foundry’s legacy; a deep and diverse lineage of creative lives who have given the foundry, and our region, distinguished opportunities to learn, teach, create and celebrate sculpture.
A Postscript to Barney Bright: A Fifty Year Celebration (Retrospective Exhibition)
“We were remembering Barney Bright recently at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, IN. It was hard to imagine that it had been twenty years since his passing and the retrospective exhibition that brought so many of his fine and memorable works together at Louisville’s historic Water Tower. Reminiscing in this old library were many artists spanning several generations that owed much of their image of what a successful working artist is to Barney Bright. For Ed Hamilton and David Lind who came to share their stories, both went on to become successful bronze artists in the own right after first apprenticing in Bright’s studio. In the case of Matt Weir, his teacher, the late Paul Fields was Bright’s first apprentice.
Sculpture is a wonderful and unexpectedly gregarious occupation. And because sculpture can also be large, heavy, technological, and facilities dependent…requires a team and space to work together to realize the project at hand. Barney Bright created his own foundry in his Frankfort Avenue studio for many practical reasons that still apply for bronze casting artists today. He needed one to make his art. It would be more cost effective in the long run to keep it local and Bright could exercise more control over the final product which also happened to be his personal vision. A lot of knowledge was exchanged during this process in addition to making many fine works of art.
The fact that Barney Bright was ultimately able to pass his studio/foundry forward after his death as an independently operating business is a testament to the need for such a specialized facility. For the past twenty years, many important works of public art now scattered across the country were poured from the Bright Foundry’s crucible. Matt Weir, Tamina Karem, and Scott Boyer all first met while working at Bright Foundry and it was their fine work that helped Barney’s old foundry establish the successful reputation it had.
Now, there is the new Falls Art Foundry located in Louisville’s Portland Neighborhood. Matt, Tamina, and Scott provide a link to the past. The future is bright with opportunities to not only continue the bronze art legacy, but to also potentially do something noteworthy in a traditionally underserved community. It can be argued that the creation of community is our greatest overarching art form. I can’t wait to see what their legacy will be.”
Coordinator of Public Programs and Engagement Carnegie Center for Art and History