Artist Ashley Brossart hopes to get Louisville’s pedestrians to start paying more attention to their urban environment. She has been placing miniature paintings all across Louisville for keen-eyed passers by to make their own, and, so far, Brossart said the response has been good. In the past couple days, she has distributed her latest batch of art throughout Butchertown, Nulu, Phoenix Hill, Downtown, and Smoketown just in time for tonight’s First Friday Trolley Hop.
“My ambition was to get people to start thinking about their city—what is around them,” Brossart said. Growing out of an interest in buildings and the spaces they create, she began painting maps at the neighborhood scale with abstracted pieces of architecture. She has started a web site—Orange-Peeled—where people who find the artwork can log on and check out other miniature paintings and how the individual pieces fit into the overall neighborhood map.
Brossart makes each piece by hand with pen and acrylic paint on bristol board fastened to foam core. Each piece is about the size of a smart phone so people are able to hold the artwork and put it in their pocket. She said it takes about 24 hours to complete a four-piece neighborhood series. According Orange-Peeled:
I am very much interested in creating a fresh level of awareness to the man-made spaces surrounding us. I am interested in how cities are planned and developed and how to improve and better the design, functionality, community and sustainability. I think that people feel like they are inhabiting a space or a city and tend to feel as though they have no “say” in how that space affects their lives. I disagree. Whether inhabiting this space is passive or active we continue to shape the spaces we exist within.
Among the challenges of creating an aware public is to keep Louisville’s sidewalks vibrant. “At first I noticed there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic on many Louisville streets, so I began with the Highlands and waited for events like trolley hops,” she said. Now with nearly 100 miniature works of art distributed throughout Louisville’s neighborhoods, Brossart is expanding into more and more neighborhoods surrounding downtown. Each piece is hand placed—hidden in plain sight—on telephone poles, fire hydrants, window sills, and on trees, so keep an eye out for the unexpected as you walk around this weekend. “It gets people to think about art—and cities—in a different way.”
Brossart continues to tweak her approach each time as the project evolves. Eventually, she would like to distribute intelligent art pieces that know when they’ve been found and appear like pieces in a puzzle projected onto a screen in a gallery using QR codes on each piece. She is also considering taking the concept national, hiding the tiny pieces of art from coast to coast.
“This project can take so many directions, but in the end it comes down to people being interested in their space,” Brossart said. “I’m going to keep doing it until everyone pays attention to what’s around them.”