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Marking Progress In Portland At The New Falls Art Foundry

Matt Weir and Scott Boyer walk through the Portland warehouse they're renovating into the Falls Art Foundry. On this day, though, it looks more like an artist’s storage space, cluttered with piles of tools, tangles of wires and a gigantic furnace in a corner.

But Weir and Boyer are opening the building to the public this weekend for an open house, where patrons can get a look at what will be the only sculpture foundry in the state.

“We are inviting people here to see the space as it is,” Weir says. “The next time most of the general public sees it, it will be a fully operational fine art foundry.”

Late last year, after the closure of the historic Bright Foundry in Butchertown, several area sculptors, including Weir, Boyer and their partner, Tamina Karem, decided to carry on the legacy for a new generation.

A foundry is where metal castings for sculptures, typically bronze, are created. This foundry is already semi-functional: Boyer is doing some maintenance on a statue of St. Francis of Assisi made by local sculptor Wyatt Gragg.

But the group is looking forward to filling people in on their big plans for the space, which include a sculpture gallery, a library of books pertinent to sculpting. and a variety of workshops.

The Falls Art Foundry isn’t the only arts institution to move to the neighborhood over the last few years; there’s the Tim Faulkner Gallery and Louisville Visual Art. But Weir and Boyer say they want the foundry to serve as a connector both for the neighborhood and Kentucky sculptors.

“We could have founded ourselves in a lot of different places,” Weir says. “We were looking for a place, a zone, where we could operate as an industrial foundry.”

He continues: “It was really just a great coincidence that Portland is in this great transition and we are really happy to be here, but we feel like we are going to bring a major part of that puzzle together.”

Weir says having an operational foundry in the neighborhood could mean visits from sculptors from all over the state; he thinks this is especially true given the history of the original Bright Foundry where he and Boyer got their start.

Several notable artists — like sculptors Ed Hamilton and Dawn Yates — used the Bright Foundry and brought national attention to Louisville for its population of talented sculptors.

“Sculpture is just so labor-intensive and it just requires so many people,” Boyer says. “And artists in general are pretty isolated, but we can soon act as a connector for all sculptors.”

Weir and Boyer say the Falls Art Foundry will be open for business in three to four months. Their open house is scheduled for June 2 from 4-8 p.m.

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