Visual Arts

The identity exhibit

On Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, the Kentucky Arts Council — in partnership with the Council on Developmental Disabilities — opened the identity exhibit at the Weber Gallery in Louisville. Artists, their friends and art appreciators braved the snow to participate in a conversation about disability, art and the role  each plays in shaping a person’s identity, and vice versa.

Thanks in large part to the professionalism and hospitality of the the Council on Developmental Disabilities, the event was a huge success in terms of attendance. Identity also accomplished exactly what we set out to do — a diverse group of people acknowledged and appreciated the careers of artists with disabilities and the value of their artwork. This “value” was recognized literally in some cases, as pieces sold throughout the night.

Artist Carol Shutt wrote of the event, “What stuck out in my mind was that there didn’t seem to be a lot of little groups clustered together talking. Visitors and staff sought out artists and artists sought out other artists. Except for me and my scooter, it was hard to tell who was disabled until you talked to them, and even then you couldn’t be sure! I think there is a great lesson to be taken from that!”

Photographer Dale Arnett artfully captured the inclusive interactions described by Carol.

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The identity exhibit will be open at the Weber Gallery by appointment through Feb. 28. Pieces from the exhibit will also appear at Kentucky Crafted:The Market, March 8-9. From there it will travel to the Houchens Gallery at the Capital Arts Center in Bowling Green, Ky.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Good food always deserves better (and sometimes bad food does too)!

This is the third in a series of posts I have written about Kentucky Crafted products for the kitchen and table.  I truly love functional pieces of art, and the vessels for your food should reflect the work and care you put into the cooking process. If you want to use paper plates, then just serve up a bunch of Hot Pockets and Cheetos. Don’t go to the trouble of brining and basting a turkey if you’re just going to serve it in disposable aluminum bakeware. Good food deserves better than to be served on trash.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, that’s mighty judgmental. Not everyone has the time and energy to whip up a seven course meal to be served on fancy artisan-made trays. I have a life, and the holidays are a busy time!”  And, you would be partially correct. Even though the holiday season starts before Halloween now, somehow actual holiday minutes and hours seem limited. I still say that’s no excuse. Even if the food you make is not worth topping with shaved truffles, you might be able to compensate with elegant Kentucky Crafted kitchen solutions.  Replace your lack of time with an abundance of class.  Great dinnerware isn’t just for the foodies. For example:

At least pour the eggnog into a pitcher instead of implying that guests should drink it straight from the carton like a teenage boy looking for a midnight snack.

Caroline Zama Pitcher

Caroline Zama Pitcher

Take the premade, store-brand dinner rolls out of the bag and toss them in a basket.

Madonna Cash Basket

Madonna Cash Basket

They don’t know it’s a bagged salad, and you prove nothing by announcing it proudly.

Jerry Hollon Cutting Board and J.D. Schall Serving Bowl

Jerry Hollon Cutting Board and J.D. Schall Serving Bowl

We know you didn’t hand press the cider this morning or even bother to mull it, but put it in a decent mug.

Amelia Stamps Mugs

Amelia Stamps Mugs

Would it hurt you to drink wine from a bottle instead of a box for this special occasion?

Yardbirds Wine Caddy

Yardbirds Wine Caddy

If the extent of your culinary repertoire is chips and dip, then you should own a chip n’ dip set.

Melvin Rowe Chip and Dip Set

Melvin Rowe Chip and Dip Set

Happy holidays, and thanks for being a good sport. I hope you don’t mind me poking a little fun. The true spirit of the season is fellowship. We should be glad we’re rushing around to spend time with friends and family; that’s the good kind of busy! When you get that text message an hour before an impromptu gathering saying, “Come on over. No big deal. Just a few friends sharing laughs,” and all you have in the house is a half-eaten bag of grapes and a partial brick of cheddar cheese — if you have the right serving option available, you can fake-gourmet your way out of the awkwardness.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Thanksgiving conundrum – deck the halls with menorahs?

With the advent of artificial Christmas trees, one of the Thanksgiving weekend traditions in many Kentucky homes is to decorate the Christmas tree. For those of us who celebrate Hanukkah, we can usually count on the eight-day festival of lights to start sometime later — maybe early December or maybe right in the midst of the Christmas holiday. This year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, which means the first candle in the menorah will be lit after sundown the evening before. So if you happen to be looking for an exquisite Kentucky Crafted menorah, I have a few ideas for you. If you start decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend, I have more than a few Kentucky Crafted ideas for your tree. Incidentally, Christmas ornaments make lovely hostess/host gifts if you are invited to Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Craig Kaviar Menorahs

Craig Kaviar Menorahs

These hand-forged menorahs created by Craig Kaviar can be family heirlooms for centuries. On the left is the “Curled Menorah” which is available at $245 and on the right is the “Menorah, Classic Style” at $380. They can be purchased at Kaviar Gallery in Louisville or ordered at 502-561-0377 or kaviargallery@gmail.com.

Berni North

Berni North Menorah

This elegant glass menorah will brighten up the window for every night of Hanukkah. Kentucky Crafted artist Berni North offers this menorah at $450 and carries many other glass decorative items for the holidays at HawksView Gallery and Café in Louisville. You can also blow your own glass ornament and dine at the café for a fun experience. For more details, go to www.hawksviewgalleryandcafe.com

Gavin Wilson Bells

Gavin Wilson Bells

Ring in the holidays with these charming bells made of solid hand-hammered copper. Each bell created by Kentucky Crafted artist Gavin Wilson measures approximately two inches across and comes with decorative Christmas ribbon or leather hangers. They are priced at $15 each or two for $25. For an additional cost, they can also be made with personalized lettering. To order, contact Gavin at mountainforge@windstream.net or 606-330-1657.

Dick Scheu Snowflakes

Dick Scheu Snowflakes

Each handcrafted snowflake by Kentucky Crafted artist Dick Scheu takes on a faceted jewel-like quality by the way he juxtaposes the grains of different woods. The delicately crafted snowflakes are about four inches in diameter and only one-sixteenth of an inch thick, making them lightweight and ideal for any Christmas tree. Prices range from $20 to $32. For more selection and to order, go to www.kentuckysnow.com.

Kellersberger Ornaments

Kellersberger Ornaments

These handmade metal twister ornaments come with different center designs and two tone colors. Kentucky Crafted artists Scot and Laura Kellersberger offer a wide range of colors and themes including sports, Kentucky and, of course, Christmas. Reasonably priced at $15 each you can see the full spectrum of designs at www.phoenixcreativemetal.com. To order, contact Scot or Laura at 859-866-8757 or info@phoenixcreativemetal.com.

Money Folk Art Ornaments

Money Folk Art Ornaments

If you love folk art, this is a great way to start collecting. These adorable critters by artists Lonnie and Twyla Money will brighten up any tree and be a keepsake for generations to come. Sizes vary, but most are about five inches in height and sell for $28 each. To order, contact Lonnie or Twyla at 606-843-7783 or gourdchicken@windstream.net.

Shambrola Ornaments

Shambrola Ornaments

These lovely hardwood ornaments are made by Mick Shambro with a scroll saw. Each ornament is dipped in natural mineral oil to seal the wood and bring out the color and grain of the wood. They come in two sizes and sell for $18 and $22 each. The ornaments don satin ribbons and a card to identify the type of wood and care instructions. To order, contact Mick at 859-576-2945 or shambrola@gmail.com.

Steve Scherer Ornaments

Steve Scherer Ornaments

Amazing glass sculptures within glass globes are the signature pieces of Kentucky Crafted glass artist Steve Scherer. In addition to the birds featured above, he also has a wonderful selection of ornaments depicting horses, dragons and life under the sea. The ornaments are priced at $98 each and come with a brass stand for year-round display. To order, contact Steve at 270-432-3615 or sscherer@scrtc.com.

Hobbs Goose Feather Trees

Hobbs Goose Feather Trees

Goose feather trees are an old German tradition that has been carried forth in America by Kentucky Crafted artist Joanne Hobbs. Each tree is created one feather at a time on a sturdy wire armature, making a wonderful display for your most precious ornaments. They come in antique white, burnt orange and pine green and are beautiful decorative items, even without ornaments. They are available in five sizes, from 12 to 48 inches and are priced at $52.50 to $400. To order, contact Joanne at 502-348-4257 or goosefeathertree2@yahoo.com. Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Uncommon Wealth

Kentucky is home to talented artists of all kinds, and the best part of my job is working with them. I have worked in arts administration for several years. My favorite thing is interacting with artists and helping them with their careers — whether that is by including their work in an exhibit; introducing them to other like-minded artists; talking or writing about their work; or helping them to find funding, get commissions or sell work. This is a generalized statement, but one that I feel is also true: Artists are a wonderful group of people to work with. They are, by and large, down-to-earth, kind and friendly people. They are hard workers and are vastly appreciative of any help they receive. They are modest when praised and untrusting of false compliments. They are interesting people to talk with and a pleasure to work with. It is very satisfying and fulfilling to know that I was able to assist an artist, because in an indirect way, that means more art will be added to the world. To this artist and arts administrator, that is always a good thing.

In 2006, I worked for the Lexington Art League as visual art director. We partnered with the Kentucky Arts Council to present an exhibit of work by recipients of the arts council’s Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowships. Uncommon Wealth, the exhibit, was on view at the Loudoun House in Lexington in the summer of 2006. It featured work by 73 artists who were past recipients of fellowships, and I was fortunate enough to personally meet many of them. The exhibit later traveled to venues around the state. Fast forward seven years later. Now, I work for the arts council and I am honored and pleased to have the opportunity to work with the same group of artists, plus the ones added to the list since 2006, on a new version of Uncommon Wealth, on view now through Jan. 11, 2014, at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center.

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In 2013, the arts council celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship Program. The fellowship program was established in 1983 to recognize creative excellence and to assist in the professional development of Kentucky artists. Since then, the arts council has awarded more than $2.5 million in funding to individual artists. This is hugely significant at a time when many other state arts agencies have cut funding to individual artists due to tight budgets. The arts council truly supports the work of artists.  But more than monetary support, the fellowship serves as a seal of approval of sorts, a validation of the work that artists do, which inspires and encourages artists. This program is all about assisting artists, so that they can continue to do what they do best: Add more art to the world.

Uncommon Wealth is a perfect example of the range of work that you find in Kentucky, from traditional crafts to conceptual work. The exhibit has painting, photography, prints and drawings. There are sculptures and furniture, ceramics and jewelry. Furthermore, the gallery at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center is a beautiful venue, with expansive walls and an abundance of natural light. It is an underused treasure of the Lexington art scene. To be able to feature 62 artists in this exhibit, in such a beautiful venue, is a joy.

Please join us Friday night during Gallery Hop, 5 to 8 p.m., to see the exhibit, admire the gallery space, and support the work of some exceptional Kentucky artists. Help us add more art to the world!

Gallery Hop at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center; Friday, Nov. 15, 5-8 p.m. The Lyric is located at 300 E. Third St., Lexington. Light refreshments will be served. Uncommon Wealth will be on view at the Lyric through Jan. 11, 2014.

Kate Sprengnether,administrative associate

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

If you’ve never visited the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, take my advice: Finish reading this blog post, then hop in your car and head on over. You will like what you find.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea has been an economic oasis for Kentucky arts businesses of all sizes since it opened its doors in 2003. Ten years later, the artisan center now introduces travelers up and down the I-75 corridor to the wonderful world of Kentucky artists, musicians, writers and food producers. The artisan center also provides a unique experience for those of us who call Kentucky home.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Government Award recipient. I felt very fortunate to spend some time with Victoria Faoro, the center’s executive director since the day it opened its doors.

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For people who have never visited before, describe the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

The Kentucky Artisan Center is really a taste of Kentucky. It’s meant to be a gateway to the entire state, so it includes all Kentucky-made products. We have visual arts, crafts, 2-dimensional art, music, books, and specialty food products. What’s unusual about the artisan center is it does have a dual focus. It’s meant to introduce people to the arts, but also we send people to other places in the state, so we’re promoting travel in Kentucky as well.

We offer a café that serves many Kentucky specialties. We offer traveler services. We are, in fact, the only mid-state rest area on I-75. The artisan center is a place you can get a feel for the quality experiences you can have in Kentucky, and we provide you with information to explore those experiences further.

How many Kentucky artists and artisan businesses are represented in the artisan center?

We work directly with more than 700 artists all across state. We also buy works from musicians and writers that we purchase through distributers, so we work with even more Kentucky artists that way.

We try to work with each business at the level they are on and provide the kind of support they need, that will be helpful for them. We’re really willing to work with them. We feel their success in business is the most important thing.

We work with them on packaging. We’ll work with them on things like quantities. We’ll work with them on price points and presentation that will help them and, often I think, it helps them in other places too.

How is the assistance you provide to artists beneficial to them?

A lot of times it can help them avoid some costly mistakes. If an artist is testing a new item they have a chance to try it in a small way, with someone who is not going to stop carrying them if it doesn’t work out. A lot of times we’re the first wholesale customer a Kentucky artist will work with. It gives them a little experience before they go to their first wholesale market or show.

The artisan center offers Kentucky artists an easy stepping stone to working with other wholesalers.

How is the artisan center different from other state government agencies?

The first thing I would say is, in order to balance our budget, we have to generate over 70 percent of that through sales. Conducting business efficiently and effectively is extremely important, especially when you realize the travel service section doesn’t earn any revenue.

I think we’re unusual in the fact that the majority of our space is public and our staff is working seven days a week, nine hours a day with the public. It’s also probably unusual for a state agency with a budget this size to be working with as many vendors as we are.

Can you talk about how the artisan center is important to introducing people to Kentucky and to our artists?

As the board and the planning groups were thinking about the center, they began to envision it as a billboard on the interstate. They really thought of the front of the building, what it would look like, and worked to make it something that would make people want to get off the interstate.

The limestone in the building is Kentucky limestone. The stonemasons who laid it were all Kentucky stonemasons. I sort of feel like from the minute a person sees the building and comes inside, they’re seeing Kentucky as a place of quality. I think the main thing we can do is give people the sense that Kentucky has quality businesses and quality experiences. When people come to the center they’re expecting a typical rest stop and I think they’re very surprised and happy when they find the center full of all kinds of art. We do try to have a range of price points such that any person coming in could afford to get something if they wanted to. We use the products in fun ways so people can enjoy the art.

A lot of times we have people say, “I didn’t have any idea Kentucky had these things or these places to visit. I’m going to plan more time here for my next visit.” For us, that’s a measure of success if people want to come back and spend more time in Kentucky.

Why is it important for the artisan center, as part of state government, to support artists economically, to provide economic opportunities for our artists; especially in conserving our arts and cultural heritage?

Kentucky is very fortunate to have a very vital and flourishing artist population. There are many arts still being made in Kentucky that just aren’t in other places. They’ve died out totally. During difficult economic times, a lot of artists were finding it difficult to continue making their art. Many artists found themselves having to consider quitting altogether because they didn’t have any assurances of income. One of the things we can provide as a center that has the visitation we have is some assurance of continued sales over a period of time. Many artists have said that, the fact that we order from them several times a year and we can be counted on to pay for our orders in a prompt way enables them to purchase the materials they need to continue making their art. We just think the arts are really important, not just for visitors, but for the people in the communities where these artists live. The quality of life is just better everywhere if our artists can continue to make work. We see it in people who come here. There’s something really wonderful about being able to purchase and make a part of your life something that’s connected with a community or an individual.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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