According to his obituary, “Louis Zoellar Bickett II, 67, went home to glory, crossed over, passed away, was carried to paradise, fell into the arms of Jesus, gave up the ghost, petered out, kicked the bucket, croaked, faced the music, bit the bullet, left the building, did not go gently into the night, and died October 29th, 2017 in his archive, after engaging a long battle with ALS: ALS 1, LZB 0.”
Bickett was born and raised in Winchester, but moved to Lexington in the 80s where he became a fixture in both Lexington’s art scene and culinary culture.
In 1972, Bickett’s interest in documenting ordinary objects peaked after watching his mother sort family photos. Soon after, he began collecting and cataloging
thousands of items from his daily life. This ongoing project became known as “The Archive,” and contains everything from dirt from the grave of Patrick Edward Madden to a knife and fork used by Seamus Heamy at a la lucie in 2006.
As a self taught artist who used his life and the city of Lexington as his canvas, Bickett believed there is no separation between being in the world and making art. Items in his collection included self written post cards, coffee cups, receipts, photographs, newspaper clippings, and even bodily fluids.
Janie Welker, Curator of Exhibitions & Collections for the UK Art Museum, said of his 2016 “Saving Myself” exhibit at UK Art Museum, “Louis’s collection consists of belongings, gifts, and souvenirs he has saved.” Welker continues, “But for a true artist, the act of making art is really what saves them. Louis’s life is his art.”
Bickett was diagnosed with ALS shortly after his 30-year tenure as a server came to an end when a la Lucie’s closed.
Bickett’s night job at lucie’s afforded him the economic support and stability that helped make his art career possible. As his obituary states, proprietor Lucie Slone-Meyers “was so supportive of his art career, allowing him to break from work for show openings, residencies, and his extensive travel around the globe—Paris 18 times!— made his time there a major part of his life, with Slone-Meyers being a prime contributor to his world view—Bickett often said she was the most opened minded, tolerant person he had ever known.”
Bickett’s last performance was a memorial service written by him. Memorial donations may be made to Institute 193 (http://institute193.org)
On a hot July day this past summer, Lexington woke to the news that culinary icon Lucie Wellinghurst Slone Meyers had died at the age of 68, after battling lung cancer.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray recalled her “irrepressible spirit,” and ability to make “everyone feel special,” adding “she loved and understood what’s special and unique about Lexington.”
A la lucie at 159 North Limestone ended an era in Lexington dining when it closed in the fall of 2015. The building that housed it for 31 years was sold, and Meyers said it was “time to move on,” throwing her energies into what would become Lucie’s Red Light Kitchen a few blocks north in the burgeoning North Lime neighborhood.
She opened a la lucie in 1985, on Halloween, her favorite Holiday, at a time when larger-than-life women chefpreneurs weren’t yet trendy in Lexington (or anywhere else). She changed that. Chef Jonathan Lundy (his new restaurant, Corto Lima, now anchors the south end of the block where a la lucie once stood) got his start in her kitchen and has described her as Lexington’s “first celebrity chef.”
A longtime anchor of downtown dining — the site of countless special occasion celebrations (from birthdays to bachelor parties) — most of what we wrote in a 1990 review of a la lucie was still true at the time it closed (though the prices included in the 1990 review changed a little):
“a la lucie is a noisy, lively place. Smack in the middle of downtown on North Limestone across from the big post office and courthouse; it has a cosmopolitan feeling unique in Lexington. If you want a quiet evening in some undiscovered spot with soft music and relaxed ambiance, go somewhere else. But if you want to be in an exciting, almost boisterous atmosphere which, in many respects, has some of the best food in town, a la lucie is for you.”
In the 80s, Slone introduced everything from artichoke souffle to escargots to a Lexington meat-and-potatoes populace that was starved for something a little wilder and more urbane.
Always a Lexington restaurant pioneer, Slone once successfully took fine dining to the southside suburbs with the late great Roy and Nadine’s; brought Asian to Chinoe with Pacific Pearl; nearly resurrected Victorian Square with the Phoenix; and added one final exclamation point to her lengthy career when she opened the Red Light Lounge on North Lime on Valentine’s Day of this year.
She was a consistent presence at the new venue, greeting diners with her signature throaty laugh, in her trademark chef’s pinks.
Her culinary — and social — legacy in Lexington is secure.
Harry Dean Stanton festival organizer Lucy Jones said this Fall, “When we programmed this year’s Harry Dean Stanton Fest, the last thing we wanted to imagine was that this year’s event might be a memorial. But now that it is, we are so grateful that we chose to close it with The Straight Story. The last three minutes of screen time are all Harry’s, and they are some of the most moving moments of his entire career. David Lynch has heralded this as his favorite collaboration with Harry, and we tend to agree. And when the camera tilts up to the stars at the end of the movie…we’ll be sitting under them.” The evening opened with the unveiling of Lexington’s newest mural, Harry’s face on the side of the Kentucky Fun Mall as designed and produced by Graham Allen and Geoff Murphy of SQUAREPEGS Design.
She said of the legendary Kentucky native at the time of his death in September, ‘Harry would have wanted us to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death. We will continue to celebrate his incredible career and lasting legacy. He was truly one of a kind and we are grateful for all of the 91 years that he shared his presence on this planet. He will not be forgotten.”
Sam Shepard, 73, was a long-adopted son of central Kentucky, and died at his home near Midway in July after battling ALS.
Shepard was known as a legendary playwright (Fool for Love), author, Oscar-winning actor (The Right Stuff), and occasional rock star. He was a famous fixture at popular Lexington and Midway restaurants, where he mostly blended in and would chat quietly with friends and strangers about anything from horses to music to the history of the Derby.
His friend Patti Smith memorialized his passing in an essay for the New Yorker, “It was a Kentucky evening filled with the darting light of fireflies, and the sound of the crickets and choruses of bullfrogs. Sam walked to his bed and lay down and went to sleep, a stoic, noble sleep. A sleep that led to an unwitnessed moment, as love surrounded him and breathed the same air. The rain fell when he took his last breath, quietly, just as he would have wished. Sam was a private man. I know something of such men. You have to let them dictate how things go, even to the end. The rain fell, obscuring tears.”
This article can be found on page 5 in the December 2017 print edition of Ace.
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