Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

June 6, 2013

Building on successes

LeBrun’s architectural portraits have been well received

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — A quote from architect Daniel Libeskind says it all for Janice LeBrun: “Cities are the greatest creations of humanity.”

“It’s true,” LeBrun said. “This is what we will leave behind.”

Her reverence for cities and city architecture is one reason she enjoys painting the architectural portraits and cityscapes she’s known for.

She has created several such watercolors on a commission basis, including the Ashland City Building and the Ashland Fire Department, both for the city. Prints are available, but the originals hang in their respective buildings.

LeBrun, a retired high school biology teacher, also painted Greenup City Park and the old Greenup County High School for the city of Greenup and has painted many schools in Greenup County.

“Architecture is a large sculpture or work of art that is the a person’s dream or the combination of dreams of several people,” she said. “I want to try to preserve that, especially the tops of these buildings where the names are.”

She said the tops of many of Ashland’s buildings are the most interesting part; not only do they sometimes bear the names of the original builders or the original purpose, they also frequently have ornate artwork that people on the street often ignore or aren’t in a position to see. “It makes you want to learn more about the history of the building,” she said.

In fact, LeBrun said she becomes intimately familiar with a building she is commissioned to paint.

“After you take the pictures and you study it and you draw it and you paint it, you can do it in your sleep,” she said.

Even the process of creating the building itself has become fascinating to LeBrun.

“It’s the idea of being an engineer, starting out with bricks and mortar and wood and glass and coming up with something beautiful,” she said.

Just for fun, LeBrun has created cityscapes of Ashland buildings without a commission and they have found popularity.

But these scenes aren’t exactly the same as reality. LeBrun took a bit of artistic license and rearranged the building tops to create a look.

Ashland Cityscape I was purchased by the Community Trust Co.

“I’m trying to give people a different way of looking at their downtown,” she said of her creations. “I want them to see the beautiful, beautiful architecture they don’t get to see just driving around town.

Her other painting, Ashland Cityscape II, includes Second National Bank (Steckler’s), Don’s Men Shop, McCleary Building (Fat Patty’s), Ventura Hotel and McMeans Pharmacy buildings.

“Architecture is a visual art,” she said. “I love beauty man creates as well as the beauty of nature and God,” she said. “You just have to stop and look at it.

LeBrun, who continues to take commissions, can be reached at (606) 329-0048.

She also teaches adult watercolor classes from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Pendleton. She said she hopes to offer a beginner’s acrylic workshop this summer.

Also during tonight’s First Friday art walk at the Pendleton, Scott Miller and Appalachan School of Music with Sugar Ridge will provide music.

‰The Story Lady from the Boyd County Public Library will join events with an appearance at 6 p.m. at the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center at 1620 Winchester Ave. Admission to the first floor will be free; the program, for children of all ages, will include stories and a craft.

‰The Boyd County Public Library’s Pictures in the Park will be at dark, around 9:30 p.m., when the movie “The Smurfs” will be shown just outside the library at 1740 Centra Ave. The free movie will be shown on an outdoor screen. Snacks will be provided, but attendees are asked to bring their own seating.

‰The Upstairs Gallery will be open for First Friday art walk activities. The gallery is at 1428 Winchester Ave. The Thoroughbred Gallery is at 1430 Winchester Ave.

For more information, call Barbara at (606) 325-2470 or (304) 633-4401 or visit yessy.com/TUG.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.