InSights

Kentucky is home to many nationally important organizations like Actors Theatre and Appalshop. We tend to think of them as “ours,” but it’s important to remember the impact many of these places have beyond the borders of the Commonwealth. The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is one of these Kentucky organizations with great reach, and it has served blind Americans since 1858 as the national leader in providing accessible media, training and products.

APH serves artists who are blind or have vision loss through InSights, an annual juried visual art competition and exhibition. Each year the contest receives about 350 national and, sometimes, international entries. Judges from Louisville’s education and art community select pieces for display at the APH annual meeting in October, which took place on Oct. 16-18. “Prize winners are invited to come to Louisville to receive their awards at an evening banquet. Artwork from entries may also be reproduced in the annual InSights calendar and as images on greeting cards.”

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I had the pleasure of viewing the exhibit this year. Now in it’s 30th year, the APH has a solid process and guiding philosophy for InSight. Artists must be legally blind by the federal definition. The judges come from diverse backgrounds —  they are artists, gallery owners, educators, etc. Each piece is judged on its own artistic merit with first, second and third places awarded in several school grades, an ungraded school-age category and an adult category. The show is also further curated by adding pieces that did not receive awards but contribute to the aesthetic of the exhibit.

I had many favorites, but I spent extra time on the following quilt. The piece came from a group of 17 students at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., in the ungraded school-age category. Each square was developed on the theme of “What Growing in Your Garden” and comes with an accompanying Haiku. Flowers, fruits, grains and vegetables are all hanging out in a quilt that remind the viewer of farmer’s market stalls. The result is powerful, colorful collaborative art.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , ,

What week of the year has 10 days?

 

This week!

 

 

American Craft Week spans over two weekends to include all the many craft events celebrating the value of American craft. American Craft Week just happens to include Kentucky’s two largest fall arts festivals, St. James Court Art Show in Louisville last weekend and the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen Fall Fair this coming weekend. Governor Beshear has joined other governors from around the nation in proclaiming Oct. 3 – 12, 2014, American Craft Week in Kentucky, acknowledging the support the Kentucky Arts Council gives to our Commonwealth’s makers, retailers, collectors and exhibitors of American handmade craft.

Kentucky Crafted Retailers in Kentucky and Ohio are also having special activities in celebration of American Craft Week. Yes, that’s right. We have officially designated Kentucky Crafted Retailers in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Check out our directory to see the complete list of Kentucky Crafted Retailers.

Stop by Completely Kentucky, in Frankfort, during American Craft Week and enjoy some samplings of Kentucky Proud gourmet foods, win a gift card during the daily drawings and see the work of Kentucky Crafted artists, artisans and gourmet food producers.

Zig Zag Gallery, a contemporary craft gallery in Dayton features jewelry, pottery, creative clothing, gifts and more! Their American Craft Week events include Soup for CERF: An Empty Bowls Fundraiser, pottery demonstrations and a fabulous Friday featuring local artists’ trunk shows.

In Cincinnati, indigenous, a handcrafted gallery features 100 per cent American fine craft and jewelry by 175 local and regional artists, including many Kentucky Crafted artist. A “clay throw-down,” artist demonstrations, fundraisers and other artful events are all happening for the celebration this week.

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American Craft Week, produced by Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow (CRAFT) is an opportunity to celebrate the wonders of American craft. Every day thousands of American artists share their vision and talent by producing amazing handmade decorative and functional objects. And every day thousands of craft retailers share their love of these items by displaying, promoting and selling them. As one craft artist put it, “this is the creative economy!”

American Craft enriches our homes, wardrobes, offices and public spaces. It contributes to our nation’s economy, our balance of trade and the fabric of our national history. It is original, beautiful and enduring, so let’s tell the world!

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Message in a bottle, on a boat, in a park

This past weekend, Josephine Sculpture Park (JSP) celebrated its 5th birthday during its 2014 Fall Arts Festival. They couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was hot but breezy, and the goldenrod was at peak bloom. The atmosphere was just like a 5-year-old’s birthday party with bubbles, balloons, face painting and edible delights. Guests were also treated to hands-on art experiences, including metal relief sculpture, glass blowing, tie dye, pot throwing, paint rockets and other fiery, messy fun.

Bubbles

Bubbles. How does soap and water get so messy?

I took my 3-year-old son, a friend and her baby to experience the momentary enjoyment, but also to take part in something lasting. We went to see and participate in Magellan, a collaboration among JSP, Governor’s Arts Award recipient Latitude Artist Community, the Expressive and Wellness Program at Employment Solutions and StudioWorks at Zoom Group.

On JSP’s eastern ridge, Latitude artists handed each new voyager a bottle and asked them to put something in it that was meaningful to them and decorate the interior. When the bottles were complete, they were capped and displayed together.

What happens later is the transcendent part. The bottles will be placed into tubes and sealed with Plexiglas. The tubes will then be placed in a boat-shaped hole dug into the ground, which will be filled with concrete. Once the cured concrete boat is pulled out of the ground, it will remain on display at the park with the bottles visable in the tubes. According to Latitude, “The focus of this project is on relaying what is the core of our essence, what are the most profound aspects of ourselves that we would like to share with the Planet.” In essence, we are all human-shaped vessels, carrying around our own message, and we are all afloat in a greater vessel together.

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A concept drawing of Magellan.

When we left, the eastern ridge was lined with bottles full of things — things with personal meaning. All held messages sent to no one in particular — just anyone who will find them, see them or hear them. Not every message in a bottle begs for rescue. Most are just something that needs to be said to someone, and that “someone” can be anyone willing to look in the bottle and listen.

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Like Latitiude or JSP on Facebook to follow the concrete boat of bottles as it completes the creation journey.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Arts Organizations | Tags: , , , , ,

The dulcimer gets its due

The Homer Ledford Dulcimer Festival kicks off this weekend, Aug. 29-30. Then, get ready for the Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming, Nov. 6-9. What is all this festivity about, you say?

As stringed instruments go, the Appalachian mountain dulcimer is a recent development. The curvy, wooden instruments designed to rest on the player’s lap emerged in 19th-century Appalachia, borrowing characteristics from older European instruments. The dulcimer’s visual and tonal beauty, ease of tuning, portability and durability made it a popular vehicle for musical expression throughout the region. Kentucky has been a dulcimer hub thanks largely to the late-1800s dulcimer patriarch Uncle Ed Thomas of Knott County, and the 20th century’s innovative and influential Homer Ledford of Winchester. Today, enthusiastic communities of dulcimer players and listeners exist all around the world.

Master luthier Doug Naselroad just completed a Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship, teaching apprentice Mike Slone the techniques and culture behind dulcimer building.

Sit back a few minutes with this video and hear their story about discovering their personal connections to dulcimer history, and how their work together over the last year is having a big impact on Kentucky communities.

Mark Brown, folk and traditional arts program director

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improving Program Review scores with the Kentucky Arts Council

As schools start across Kentucky, educators and teachers around the state are planning programs and initiatives designed to help meet the Department of Education’s Arts and Humanities Program Review. 

Implemented last year, the Arts and Humanities Program Review is a method for schools to analyze their arts programs, initiatives and instruction. In June 2013, the first year of self-reporting, just one district out of 174 achieved the distinguished level. In comparison, 41 districts ranked proficient and 132 districts fell into the needs improvement category.

To help schools looking for ways to improve their self-assessment scores, the Kentucky Arts Council offers several arts education programs.

Students at Frankfort High worked with artist Alfredo Escobar to design and paint this mural as part of the Teaching Arts Together program.

Students at Frankfort High worked with artist Alfredo Escobar to design and paint this mural as part of the Teaching Arts Together program.

Specialists with Arts Tactics (SWAT):  The SWAT program is a resource that connects Kentucky schools to arts education professionals that provide three-to six-hour consultancies geared towards developing plans and assessment tools for integrating the arts across the curriculum. These consultancies lay the groundwork for stronger arts initiatives in the district, and can help educators plan how  best to incorporate the arts as they strive to meet program requirements.  The next application window for SWAT consultancies is Oct. 15 – Dec. 1, 2014, for consultancies that will occur Jan.1- June 30, 2015.

Teaching Arts Together:  The Teaching Arts Together program brings professional teaching artists into the classroom to collaborate with educators on the design and implementation of innovative one- to four-week residencies.  The arts residencies give students and teachers the opportunity to participate in the creative process and to learn from an artist who has mastered the skill or art form. Past projects have included designing and painting a mural featuring the school’s traditions, creating a short clay animation film and painting wooden quilt blocks for a collective courtyard decoration. The next deadline to apply is Oct. 1.

TranspArtation Grant: One of the most popular arts education initiatives, the TranspArtation grant offers transportation funding for schools to attend arts events and performances at one of the many approved Kentucky Arts Partnership organizations. The grant is awarded based on the number of students being taken to the event, and the distance in mileage from the school to the performance venue.  Through this funding, schools are able to take more arts-related field trips and work towards incorporating more arts programming into their every day schedules. Applications are accepted at different times throughout the year. The next deadline is Nov. 1.

For more information about these programs or for other arts education opportunities, contact Jean St. John, arts education director, at 502-564-8110, ext. 486, or via email at jean.stjohn@ky.gov.

 

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