At the busy corner of Sixth and Muhammad Ali, there is a clump of four billboards nestled together. Two face Sixth Street, and two face Muhammad Ali. They usually hold a pretty standard set of forgettable advertisements, the sort of thing one could easily overlook in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
But as of June 8, one of those billboards has been transformed into a space for public art, featuring “City Walk Two,” a painting by Louisvillian Ashley Brossart.
The billboard is one of four around Louisville that feature Brossart’s painting. The installations come courtesy of Save Art Space, a nonprofit aimed at transforming cities and street corners into places for art, one billboard at a time.
Save Art Space has created these billboard-based art spaces in New York City, Los Angelas and Miami.
Brossart took Insider on a tour around Louisville to see the billboards and to talk about her involvement with Save Art Space, her journey as artist and muralist, and the ideas behind “City Walk Two.”
“I got in touch with Save Art Space, I think it was through Instagram, and then they just have a call for submissions,” says Brossart.
The endless submission process is one many artists and creatives are likely familiar with. You send out submissions and don’t get your hopes up. Brossart assumed she wouldn’t get chosen by Save Art Space, which takes submissions from all over the country.
But she believes too many artists let themselves get discouraged, or only apply for opportunities close to home.
“I think it’s really important for artists to reach out as much as they can outside of the region and draw connections with other artists in larger cities, smaller cities, whatever it takes,” says Brossart. “I was really curious (if this) would encourage other artists to be, like, ‘Hey, I can totally do this on my own, I don’t have to be waiting on the opportunities here.’”
Brossart’s process for creating her works contains multiple steps, which she uses to create multiple layers.
“That specific piece is a style I work in where I use images from the city or whatever,” she explains. “I’ll take pictures when I’m walking or visiting, and then I use the photo images and I combine them with Photoshop, basically digitally create a montage, a collage.”
But that’s just the first step.
“Then I’ll have them printed out and I’ll use some inexpensive type of paper, and cut and paste them again, so, like, another round of this collage aspect.”
And she’s still not finished.
“Once the composition is all set up, I’ll go back and paint and draw over the image again, which gives it a feel of like, almost like a street art,” she says.
The final product has a quality that is at once completely recognizable, but also gives the viewer an almost dream-like sense of deja vu.
“City Walk Two,” like much of Brossart’s current work, is meant to be a reflection of time and experience, specifically centered on what it is like to be in a city.
“So I created this great sense of motion and repetition and pattern, because it’s like the experience of moving through a city, where things are constantly changing around you … you’re never gonna have the same experience twice,” she says.
Some of the billboards are at busy intersections with plenty of foot traffic, but others have only speeding cars or even little foot or auto traffic. It’s a broad section of locations, though most are in the West End and Downtown.
When Brossart took Insider to the billboard at Seventh and Shipp streets, drivers were honking and driving by at speeds that almost seemed unsafe.
But there was evidence that at least one Louisvillian had taken some time with the billboard. Underneath it was a fresh tag, its vibrant blue letters clear, though stylized to the point of unreadability.
Brossart doesn’t mind. Street art, she says, is one of the many places in a city from which she draws inspiration, and she’s thrilled to finally have her work returning to the kinds of places that inspired it.
“I’ve been really interested in public art and art interacting with people, and that’s more what I’m moving into now, so the billboards are a nice little jumping-off point or intersection I guess.”
The billboards aren’t the only public place you can see Brossart’s work. She’s worked on creating and installing murals in Portland, behind Flora, and she’s also one of the artist chosen for the city’s Alley Gallery program.
When working on murals, Brossart’s process changes, but the results still carry the distinct look of her work.
“I definitely switch my materials. So I’ll get a bigger line, which took a while to figure out what to use going from, like, a small to a really big surface … I just got really good with the spray paint,” she says.
You can see “City Walk Two” at any of the following locations: 1508 S. Seventh St. at Shipp Avenue; 940 S. Preston St. at Caldwell; Sixth Street at Muhammad Ali; and 1045 28th St. at Greenwood Avenue. The billboards are only guaranteed to be up for one month, but they may hang around longer if no one else rents out the spaces.
Brossart also helped transform an entire building at 1500 Bank St. And her Alley Gallery pieces can be found at the alley of Seventh and Congress streets and the alley behind the Louisville Marriott Downtown.
In July, some Brossart’s work will be exhibited at CRAFT(s) Gallery & Mercantile.