Looking back at early 2015, Abigail Kreuser puts it this way: "I was in a kind of a funk. So when I spoke with a few friends, they suggested I think about things that inspire me. That's how the idea for this show happened."
The 35-year-old owner of Kreuser Gallery is talking about Lucere, a new collection of black-and-white photographs and essays, featuring four dozen local people who have inspired her.
Kreuser, a Springs native, left for a while to obtain a degree in photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She returned to help run Purple Mountain Coffee with her mother, and managed to turn that gig into a stepping stone.
"I would display my photography," she says, "so when customers would come in they would see my work and I would get jobs that way."
In 2011, she realized her dream of opening her own gallery, under the Colorado Avenue bridge. And though today Kreuser still has to hold down several jobs to make ends meet, her passion has never wavered.
"The reality is, I love it," she says. "I love photography and I love art, and I think that this town has a great creative quality about it that allows people to [express themselves]."
Kreuser herself, however, only puts together a project of her own once a year for display in the gallery. For Lucere, Italian for "to shine," she photographed 48 subjects and collected quotes or essays from each. She then handcrafted books with the material, putting each image alongside the matching words.
In the show, which will stretch into neighboring AHA Gallery, 48 books will hang on the walls, each "bookmarked" to different pages and different people.
The selection process was fairly simple, as Kreuser explains it: "I sent out emails to all the people that had inspired me, and I just went from there ... I met face-to-face with all of them and talked to them about their art. I asked them two simple questions: 'What inspires you to create?' and 'What is it about this community that inspires you to create?'"
Artists chosen range from musicians, painters, sculptors, potters, photographers and metal workers (as well as Indy arts editor Edie Adelstein, mentioned by name here for purposes of disclosure).
"They're all very colorful people," Kreuser says. "And when I was asking the artists these questions, most of them had very similar answers — basically, what inspires them is to get out of their own way, to show other people different perspectives, or show other people how they think."
One of the many people selected for the project was local businessman Chuck Murphy, who introduced Kreuser to the space that would become her gallery, and whom she views a big inspiration. When she first started out, Kreuser says, "I was nervous and asked him, 'How do you do it, Chuck?" And he said, 'Abby, I started where you are now, and you just have to work your ass off.' And look at him now."