2015 Governor’s Awards in the Arts photo gallery!

Check out photos we’ve collected of our 2015 Governor’s Awards in the Arts honorees! We’ll add more photos to the gallery after the ceremony tomorrow, Oct. 22, or you can come by at 10 a.m. and see the recipients in person!

We hope to see you there!

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‘Never has a time been better to grow the arts in Kentucky’

Dec3summitBanner545The Kentucky Creative Industry Summit is coming Nov. 12-13 at the Owensboro Convention Center, and in the weeks leading up to it, we’re talking with people who are key to bringing this important conference to you. Today, we’re featuring Berea College Crafts Director Tim Glotzbach. Berea College Crafts has signed on as presenting sponsor of the Creative Industry Summit, along with the Kentucky Arts Council Board.

What is Berea College Crafts?

Approximately 100 Berea students work in Berea College Crafts studios, shops and outreach programs, providing a rich opportunity for students to learn and work in a hands-on environment. The Student Crafts Program is a model platform for experiential education at Berea College through active learning in design principles, studio techniques and business applications. As such, the Student Crafts Program simultaneously draws attention to the unique history and identity of the college and contributes importantly to the educational program, serving as a national model for integrating the arts into an active campus community. The Student Crafts Program, started in 1893, designs and produces a line of handcrafted works in a variety of disciplines, including wood/furniture, weaving, broom making, ceramics and jewelry.

Why was it important for Berea College Crafts to assume this role as a presenting sponsor for the Creative Industry Summit?

Throughout the course of its history, Berea College Crafts has sought to preserve the culture of handcrafted works produced by students and our local artisans. On a larger scale, the college has been engaged in education, sales and marketing associated with the craft disciplines, in an effort to support a local arts economy, train new artisans and support the economic goals of artists regionally and nationally. As one of the earliest Kentucky organizations to accept this responsibility for preservation of the arts, Berea College Crafts believes that our longstanding brand associated with fine craft production can be an important tool in encouraging new artists and a reminder that the arts are significantly important to Kentucky.

Describe Berea College Crafts’ contributions to Kentucky’s creative industry.

Berea College Crafts has never stopped believing in the importance of educating people in the arts as a means of personal enrichment and building community. Berea College Crafts traces its beginning to Dr. William Goodall Frost, Berea College’s third president. Dr. Frost saw the great need to preserve craft handwork, heritage and the traditions of the Appalachian region. Dr. Frost developed a plan to teach those traditional craft techniques to students at Berea College and encourage the local community to develop those same skills as a means for personal economic development.

Fireside Weaving, the first craft area at Berea College, taught students at the college and women from the mountains the technical and design skills necessary for successful cottage industries. Lucy Morgan, working in the mountains of North Carolina, brought women to Berea College Fireside Weaving to be educated and trained and founded the Penland Weavers Guild, now Penland School of Craft. The Industrial Arts Department at Berea College designed a fly shuttle loom and Berea College Woodcraft designed and built the Ernberg counter balance floor loom. Berea College was involved in the earliest formation of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and was a partner in the formation of the Kentucky Guild of Artists & Craftsmen. Log House Crafts Gallery continues to support artists nationwide through the sales of their works.

Why should individuals and organizations come to the Creative Industry Summit?

Never has a time been better to grow the arts in Kentucky. Over the years, the numerous initiatives instituted by state government, and in particular those of the Kentucky Arts Council, have spawned a growth and interest in the arts that, in my opinion, has yet to slow down. Kentucky seems to have hit its stride in offering skills-based education focused on a creative economy. The sessions, speakers and events planned for the summit should give all of us a very clear picture of what has happened, what is happening and how we can model best practices. Clearly, there is no longer a wait-and-see attitude with arts economic development nationally and especially in Kentucky. It is active and it works when the right principles are applied.

Why should individuals and organizations support the Creative Industry Summit, as you have?

Support of the arts in Kentucky will continue to take the efforts of each organization and individual. As we each build a strong brand, we have an obligation to promote the industry that grew up with us – we are all connected. We, as a state, have achieved our current successes because we all focused our attention in the same direction and we built the creative economy as a “statewide community,” and not just as individuals. We will all continue to gain strength as we stretch our learning curve about this industry, and invite a new generation of artists/makers. I encourage each person interested in the creative economy to support this summit through attendance, sponsorship and even through scholarship. Send someone to the summit to learn.

Register today for the Kentucky Creative Industry Summit!

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InSights 2015

This is my second year viewing the InSights art competition organized by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and on display during their annual meeting in October. For more general information about this competition, have a look at last year’s post.

As I’ve said before, APH is a Kentucky organization with international importance. This was evident in this year’s competition, which featured an award recipient from Riga, Latvia. Not only was this student able to travel to the U.S. to receive her award, she also met with her peers at the Kentucky School for the Blind while she visited Louisville.

“The White Church of St. Magdalena in the Old Riga” by Janis Putnins; Riga, Latvia

Another new and interesting feature of this year’s competition were all the birds. There are penguins, birds in trees, birds in nests, birds in flight and birds in the rain. Flip through the following slideshow to experience the unintentional bird trend. Birds were depicted in every way except battered and fried.

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Though fried chicken was the only bird lacking, I found two new food art pieces to place among my show favorites.

Sarah Schmitt, community arts and access director

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Kentucky’s ‘Where I’m From’: A Poetry of Place

Twenty-two years ago, on the Summer Solstice in 1993, I began a poem called “Where I’m From.” Here’s the notebook I wrote it in, bought at the Radford University Bookstore where I was teaching in the Highland Summer Conference.

The cover of my notebook and a page showing a draft of "Where I'm From." I see on the cover that I was also writing "Here and Then," a Civil War time travel novel here, too.

The cover of my notebook and a page showing a draft of “Where I’m From.” I see on the cover that I was also writing “Here and Then,” a Civil War time travel novel here, too.

Little did I dream, when I began this poem on page one of my new notebook, that I was starting a process that would involve countless teachers and writers, young and old, in the United States and in Germany, Great Britain, Spain, China and the Sudan, that folks would write “Where I’m From” poems in prison, a refugee camp, homeless shelters, English as a second language programs and children’s hospitals. Just as my poem took off from a poem in Jo Carson’s “Stories I Ain’t Told Nobody Yet,” and hers took off from something she heard somebody say, so “Where I’m From” has been handed around the world like sourdough starter. It’s been part of photo exhibits, videos, obituaries, family reunions and dance. “I’m from the . . . pass-it-ons” my poem says, and that’s what keeps happening to it, a testimony to the power of place, of poetry, of teachers and of the hunger for a voice.

When I became poet laureate last spring, I wondered if there was a larger project that I could initiate, something beyond the readings, workshops, school visits, and other events I’d be doing around the state during my tenure. I mused, I brainstormed, I daydreamed. Then came what one of my Centre College professors called “the hysterical discovery of the obvious.” (He did not want to read this type of discovery in our essays, but I’m always thankful when one shows up.)

We could create a collection of “Where I’m From” (WIF) poems from all over the state! We could invite folks in each county to write theirs and then have one chosen randomly — I was adamant that this not be a contest — to put on the Kentucky Arts Council website. It can be a recording, a video, a song or whatever form the maker chooses.

Much to my delight, the arts council folks liked this idea. And, in the WIF tradition, they added their own vision: How can this idea fit into the arts curriculum in the classroom and how it could turn into local readings across the state next April when we celebrate Kentucky Writers’ Day?

I believe that writing belongs to everybody. It’s about getting what’s in your heart and head on paper so that you can understand yourself, so you can save what’s precious to you, and so you can share it if you want. We all have a trove of memories related to where we’re from. My poem is a list, chosen from pages of lists I made of experiences that shaped me. I played with the order and the arrangement on the page, and then I wrote that last stanza as a reflection on the whole.

You can do this! Everybody makes lists. The key is not to worry about what you put down, what order it comes in, of whether it sounds poem-like to you. Just get words on the page. Or screen. You might do this in short bursts over several days. (That’s what I did.) Then get your pages together, underline the lines you like best, and fiddle with the order. Read it out loud to see how it sounds. Check for places you could zoom in; for example, if you wrote “I’m from the first car I drove” you can bring us in closer by adding “— a red-and-white ’55 Chevy.”

Above all, have fun. It’s your life. It’s your writing. You can’t go wrong.

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Milner Awardee reflects on arts advocacy

2015 Milner Awardee Al Smith. Photo by Marvin Young/Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Office of Creative Services

2015 Milner Awardee Al Smith. Photo by Marvin Young/Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Office of Creative Services

My selection to receive this year’s Milner Award for advocacy of the arts was like an announcement of a play revival from the 1970s and ‘80s, the decades in which I served on the Kentucky Arts Council. I think of the scheduled presentation on Oct. 22 as the First Night opening of a curtain on scenes of long ago when it was called the Kentucky Arts Commission.

Why the name was changed is another story, unnecessary to tell in the 50th anniversary year of Kentucky state government’s support of the arts. However, I am a survivor of a few political skirmishes over process. In one of them, when the Milner Award was to be presented at an event in the Cave region to Wendell Cherry, a co-founder of Humana, he balked at having to travel so far from Louisville. As he was venting his displeasure, a secretary tried to assure him it was an important occasion. “The Owensboro Symphony will play,” she said. “Mr. Barry Bingham Sr. (the owner of the Courier-Journal) will present the award to you and Al Smith will be the speaker.”

“AL SMITH?” the honoree snorted. “Why that fellow will speak anywhere!”

But he came to the dinner, and could not have been nicer to me or to Mr. Bingham, my colleague on the commission.

Cherry was honored after a deal Bingham and I made two years before when the chairmanship of the Appalachian Regional Commission was added to my civic responsibilities by President Jimmy Carter. Bingham wanted to give the Milner honor to Cherry for enormous contributions to building the Kentucky Center for the Arts. I wanted to give it to James Still of Hindman, a beloved poet and story teller in the Appalachian region.

The compromise was Still first and Cherry second. When it was James Still’s turn, he enchanted Bingham’s wife Mary by reporting he had “told the bees” at his cabin home that he was going to Louisville for the arts award and would return next day. (Mary, an original promoter of Harry Caudill’s “Night Comes to the Cumberlands,” was familiar with the culture of the mountains but “telling the bees” about travel plans was a folk custom new to her.)

The Milner Award is named for a business advocate in the first decade of the arts agency. Hudson Milner was the head of Louisville Gas and Electric when he became chairman of the Commission and, with another Bingham — Barry Bingham Jr., successor to his father as the Courier-Journal publisher — visited Gov. Julian Carroll to pitch for aid to the arts. They came away with a significant gift by Carroll, a promise of an annual “match” from the state for funds raised each year by local arts organizations — from Appalshop in Whitesburg to the prestigious programs in Louisville.

After Milner’s untimely death, the commission established the namesake award to honor his service and Gov. Carroll appointed me as his successor.

Why me?

I had just become a member of the commission. About the arts, other than a literary bent, my experience was leading a band in the first grade and acting in dramas in college, but I was certain the arts were vital to the emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being of citizens and communities. I was a fan for sure, and always an advocate in my journalism, especially for individual artists.

About music, in my 20s, while working on New Orleans newspapers, I wrote a freelance story for Newsweek magazine about a revival of dixieland and jazz on Bourbon Street. In Kentucky, editing a weekly paper at Russellville in rural Logan County, I took advantage of new funding for state arts programs to promote a schedule of concerts in Russellville by the Louisville Orchestra, the Kentucky Opera and individual artists such as folk singer Jean Ritchie and actor Ken Jenkins of Actors Theater, later a star on the TV show “Scrubs.”

When the Louisville Orchestra accepted an invitation to play for the dedication of a new high school auditorium in Russsellville, I was proud but concerned whether the readers of my paper, many of them farmers, shared my enthusiasm for classical music. So I appealed to managers of new factories we had recruited to Logan County, selling them full page ads that extolled the talents of the musicians, likening them to skills of local work forces producing die castings and hermetic motors. The underlying theme of these ads urged the community not to embarrass ourselves by staying away. The turnout on a foggy night — I shall never forget it — filled every seat in the auditorium.

That record, plus maybe my friendly editorials about the Democratic party, apparently influenced Carroll’s appointment of me and reappointments by two successive governors. During that service, a highlight was a homecoming of Kentucky authors that we sponsored at the University of Louisville in 1979, financed with a contingency grant from Gov. Carroll to pay travel expenses.

As my journalism expanded into TV and radio broadcasting, I continued to feature special artists — film makers, the poets laureate and the authors of books about Kentucky. A series of 17 documentaries about notable Kentuckians I produced for KET featured seven artists.

This advocacy was cited for creation of the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship program after I left the council in 1984. I lobbied for funding grants to individual artists, but never to name them for me. Nevertheless, the Fellowships mean so much to me because they have always meant so much to artists, beginning in the early days with one to Joe Gray, a farm boy, Yale graduate and stretcher bearer in Vietnam before he became a film maker.

“Well, Joe, what did you do with that cash?” I asked him.

“I fixed my jeep,” he replied.

Veteran journalist Al Smith of Lexington chaired the Kentucky Arts Council from 1977-79 and 1981-84. He was founding producer of KET’s Comment on Kentucky, which he hosted for 33 years.



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