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Collage and Collaboration: Guyon and Stump Illuminated Lexington

BY KIM THOMAS

Lexington artist Marjorie Guyon is committed to making her art “available for every home, everywhere,” and Arhaus (in Hamburg, and online) now carries reproductions of her internationally known work. She was among the first artists that Arhaus chose when they opted to begin carrying work by renowned artists with significant catalogues.

If you were downtown during Breeders’ Cup week, you likely witnessed a unique collaboration of two of the bluegrass area’s favorite artists. Marjorie Guyon’s compilation of her artwork was, literally, an illuminated love letter to the world from Lexington, so it could only be viewed after dark, say 8pm to 2am. Images of her work were projected on the side of the Downtown Arts Center, with the help of the Lexington Central Library, where a huge projector was eventually located to maximize the public enjoyment of Guyon’s art, and Nick Stump’s words of prose.

Guyon was so inspired with the thought of the entire world coming to Lexington for Breeders’ Cup, she says she wanted the presentation to be a welcome letter to the world, a ‘welcome to Lexington’ message to shine a loving light on the Bluegrass. Guyon is originally from New York, graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in poetry, and has lived in Lexington over 30 years. Today she is known internationally for her art, and though she considers herself more of a ‘compiler and synthesizer’ than a painter, her renderings are popular with esteemed home interior furnishers, such as Arhaus, which carries a line of seven Guyon pieces.

p16 _ marjorie guyon _ Blue Grass Horse Arhaus
  Guyon’s “Blue Grass Horse”

Although she has a poetry degree, and is a writer, Guyon saw her DAC deadline looming and was struggling to find the right words to go with her paintings that would be illuminated. As luck would have it, she eventually ran into her textual knight in shining armor when she walked by her friend Stump’s front porch one day while pondering the issue. Guyon always walks when she has something on her mind. She saw him, stopped, they chatted, and she told him what was on her heart. Stump is confident that he knows “how to figure stuff like that out, and ‘rassle’ it up from the ground,” and offered to help. Accordingly, they put their collaborative hats on and began the process. A lively exchange of ideas transpired from thereon, and in the end, the world DID arrive in Lexington just in time to see Guyon’s stunning images along with Stump’s prose.

Hence the project was projected for all to see, those passing in tour buses as well as school buses, and Guyon’s artwork was graciously appreciated; and the words accompanying and captioning the art were painted by bluesmaster Stump, who half-jokingly claims that he “thrives on chaos.”

As it turned out, the duo work well together and plan to do similar projects in the future.

It was a pioneering program of its kind…just in time for what turned out to be an historic Breeders’ Cup — with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah taking the victory — right here, in our town, our horse country hamlet. What better place to show the beauty of bloodlines, Bluegrass blessings and distilled recipes of grandpa’s whiskey (seriously, my brother’s grandpa-in-law was Basil Hayden), or the undeniable spirited hospitality of the Bluegrass than the Downtown Arts Center?

p16 _ marjorie guyon _ Letters I Have Not Sent #10
  Marjorie Guyon’s “D’or”

Native New Yorker Guyon taught herself to paint before she earned a poetry degree at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and though she seems shy in talking about herself, admits to having various out-of-the-proverbial-box phases of artistry such as a fascination with Chinese influence and in mythological animals. She enjoys having structure in her life, just as any creative child would, and accordingly, she works in phases or focuses on a series and is happy doing her art that way. This talented artist is as prolific as she is gifted.

Her work is described as Contemporary Ancient.

Stump, for his part, was more than glad to help his longtime friend out and color the text to the projection display. He and Guyon are already planning to work on a future collaborations with the projected display method. They both expressed how impressed they were with this innovative, new method of art display, and that despite of the need for darkness, has many possibilities, many implications on how art can be brought to the public, for all to see. The collaboration went so well, the two seem harmonious and ready to collaborate again.

Stump and his gritty blues-drenched sound rolls with nearly every local musician worth a listen. He can be often heard jamming with the likes of JP Pennington, Roger Bondurant, Steve Lyon, Kelley Richie, Jim Gleason and Rex Hart, just to name a few. He is just as comfortable performing hillbilly jazz as the blues, and has a distinctive style that still characterizes Appalachian music he must’ve developed as a kid in Eastern Kentucky.

A native of Hindman, Kentucky, Stump comes from the “fiddling” Stamper side of his family. Many do not know that Nick Stump’s real name is Michael Stamper; Stump is just a nickname that he picked up in the service. He now uses that name as a pseudonym. Stump first became known as a musician in central Kentucky from his days as lead guitarist with the popular 1980-1990s band, the Metropolitan Blues All-Stars, which performed nationwide. “Because our music was a little to the left, we got to play a lot of folk festivals,” says Stump.

The former All-Star and current Mayor of Maxwell Street considers it an honor to have owned several Guyon pieces for years, and was delighted to be part of the dynamic DAC Breeders’ Cup project. Here are his words that scripted the display:
In regard to what he knows about art, Stump confesses, “I don’t even know what I like, but thought this was a cool idea of lighting up the city with Marjorie’s work. I’ve always liked her work, I own several of her pieces and have them in my home, and was interested in helping her focus and present her love letter the best way possible.”

Guyon’s work is available online through Arhaus.com and/or may be ordered at the store in Hamburg.

Marjorie Guyon’s art has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Memphis and Los Angeles. Her work and projects appear in public and private collections including those of International Paper, FedEx, Morris Museum of Art, Ashland Oil, Yum Brands, Pfizer, Brown Forman, Keeneland Foundation, Brian and Jane Williams, Bill and Sheila Lambert, the N’Namdi Collection, University of Kentucky Art Museum, UK Healthcare, Lucille Caudill Little Library of Fine Art, Park Hyatt in Los Angeles and Hyatt Regency in Arlington, VA. Her art projects are being utilized in Universities and schools across the United States. Significant awards and grants include The National Congress of Art and Design Award of Excellence, 2 Al Smith Fellowships, The New Forms Regional Initiative Grant, NEA and Rockefeller Foundation through the Arts Exchange.

This article also appears on pages 16-17 of the December issue of the Hamburg Journal.

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