- Associated Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Bill Macintire retired from one career in Frankfort and started a new one.

Macintire wedded his ambitions to establish himself as an artist with his professional experience in historical research and survey to restore a building on Logan Street in south Frankfort as his working studio.

Growing up in Lewes, Delaware, and from a patriarchal line of river pilots (his father, grandfather and great-grandfather piloted boats from Delaware to Philadelphia), Macintire captained his own route into historic survey.

He graduated from the University of Delaware with an undergraduate degree in art and art history. Before going back to graduate school, Macintire documented historic buildings, mostly 19th century barns in Delaware, with measured drawings for the Historic American Building Survey - a Library of Congress project started during the Depression.

The experience led him to pursue graduate school in the Winterthur Museum’s graduate program in early American culture focused on the Colonial and early National time periods at the University of Delaware.

In graduate school, Macintire studied furniture, prints and how their very existence and fabrication serves as a historical document for those in the present just like objects discovered by archeologists.

He worked for two years at Colonial Williamsburg after graduate school reconstructing slave quarters and documenting early farm buildings in Virginia.

Learning early 18th century building techniques, Macintire gained experience and insight into construction methods for early American buildings and styles like Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic and Italianate.

He met his wife, Lori, at Colonial Williamsburg and after she completed college, Macintire found out about an opening at the Kentucky Heritage Council from a former graduate school acquaintance.

Moving to Frankfort in 1991, Macintire worked at the Kentucky Heritage Council as the survey coordinator for 23 years.

Large projects like the Rural Heritage Development Initiative’s Historic Sites Survey, took him into the rural areas of Marion and Washington counties where he photographed, drew and documented barns, outbuildings, homes and structures that spanned time periods from early log wall and corner notching to framing construction techniques of the late 19th century.

“Where a lot of people see a vacant, run-down building and think it should be torn down, I see an opportunity,” Macintire said. “This place (his studio) is a culmination of a lot of things I learned in preservation. A lot of what I was doing was looking at places not doing actual restoring. It was nice to fix up this place and try to preserve as much of its historic fabricate as possible.”

The beauty of Macintire’s studio for him is that it has two histories: one as a grocery store from the early 1900s and when the building was made into a house in 1949.

Two years ago, he and his wife noticed no one lived in the building and after negotiating with the owner he bought it.

The usual aspects of renovation had to be redone. The wiring and plumbing had to be modernized, but in tearing away paneling from the 1970s Macintire found early 1900 bead board that could be salvaged and reused after he insulated the walls.

Now refurbished, restored and repurposed, the once house and grocery store has a new life as his studio.

Artwork in acrylic, oil and watercolors covers the walls in varying styles. Macintire works in various media and is a member of the Plein Aire Painters of the Bluegrass. His pieces and subjects range from realistic type landscapes, random shapes and repeated designs with layers of depth and texture.

Some pieces have designs where Macintire plays with the foreground shape and its relation to the background of the canvas. A viewer’s eye could wander between the colors and design to see various layers that give an illusion of interchangeable levels between shape and texture.

Several pieces have text painted on them to serve not as linear phrases for reading, but more as part of the design that plays with the color scheme in a pattern.

Macintire has pieces at Ellen Glasgow’s Capital Gallery on Lewis Street and a few pieces at the Lexington Public Library.

“I hope my career (as an artist) builds from here,” Macintire said. “I really appreciate that I have this opportunity. I had mixed feelings when I retired. I think what my art and preservation have in common is really learning how to look at things and see things. You can learn an awful lot from looking - as they say.”

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