This article appears in the November 2010 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
The holidays at Actors Theatre. By now, you know the drill: A Christmas Story in November, A Christmas Carol in December. But if you’d like to check out something at ATL you haven’t seen yet, catch Juliet Ehrlich’s painted bas-relief clay sculptures that will be hanging in Actors’ various lobbies from Nov. 9 to Dec. 19. Sketches by Renaissance artists — Dürer, Lancret, Reubens — inspired many of the 30 or so pieces the artist will be showing. “It’s challenging,” says the 54-year-old Ehrlich, who makes a living selling commissioned work. “You get the relief by removing a hairsbreadth of clay. The diminutive scale, that intensity, draws you in.”
Ehrlich’s been working with clay for 36 years. Originally from Long Island, she moved to Louisville at 16 and, by 17, took a pottery class at the old Louisville School of Art. “Barely learned to throw a mug,” she says. The “self-taught” Ehrlich, who worked with local sculptor supreme Ed Hamilton on the Waterfront Park Lincoln memorial, lived all over the world — New Zealand, Italy, Turkey, Arizona, California — before she returned to Louisville four years ago, renting a carriage house that shares land with a Glenview mansion and has a front-yard view of the Ohio River. That house is where she completes a 16-step process that begins with throwing clay (“a recipe I use,” she says) onto a large easel. For this exhibition Ehrlich has painted some pieces — many of which are roughly eight inches square — in shades to resemble the original Renaissance sketches.
“I hope this exhibition reminds us of the flourishing of art from that period,” she says. “It was a period absolutely overflowing with high-quality, technically relevant artists and craftsmen. I mean, Leonardo da Vinci — what else do I have to say?”
Photo: John Nation