Local art displayed in exhibit to raise money for disabled artists



By Anthony Pendleton

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Latitude Artist Community, a locally based nonprofit organization, hosted an art exhibit Saturday night to raise money for disabled artists.

The exhibit was hosted by the Land of Tomorrow gallery on East Third Street and featured 98 pieces by more than 20 artists, some of whom are students at UK.

According to organizer Dakota Smith, the exhibit raised $1,500 through artwork and beer sales. The money will be used to hire performance artists to collaborate with the Latitude artists.

Smith also said that he and Latitude director Bruce Burris expected $200 or less.

“The $1,500 was a surprise to us all,” Smith said.

According to Matt Gibson, one of the operators at Land of Tomorrow, many of the pieces had their prices lowered.

“One of the main conditions is that they be priced $60 and under so they sell,” Gibson said.

This was Smith’s first time organizing an event. He originally meant for it to be smaller, but “people really took the idea and came together as a community to make it (the exhibit) amazing.”

The exhibit was funded out-of-pocket by Smith. He said he encourages others, regardless of experience, to do events like this to “get involved in their community.”

Latitude Artist Community was created in 2001 by Bruce Burris and Crystal Bader-Webster.

According to its Facebook page, Latitude Artist Community supports all artists, with an emphasis on disabled artists, by allowing them to “contribute culturally and politically to their community.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Steve Beshear honored Latitude with the Community Arts Award, which recognizes “contributions to the arts in Kentucky.”

Burris gave a speech during the exhibit, thanking everyone for their support.

According to Smith, the majority of the artists are self-trained, having no formal art education.

The pieces included forms of art such as paintings, drawings and photography. The more obscure pieces included a warped vinyl album with paint splatter, plastic shopping bags sewn together to

resemble a quilt and a “ROAD WORK AHEAD” sign with graffiti and paint splatter.

According to Burris, many artists have had their works displayed in Berlin, Paris, New York and Moscow.

Although some might consider a disabled person accomplishing such a feat amazing, Burris said, “it’s not amazing at all.” He said the disabled people who Latitude supports are like everyone else, and should be treated as such.