Posts Tagged With: arts businesses

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.

Master and apprentice outside the Appalachian Artisan Center Wood Studios.

Master and apprentice outside the Appalachian Artisan Center Wood Studios.

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

Holiday shopping in My Town, Kentucky, USA

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and good ‘ol Saint Nick is starting to take notice of who is being naughty and who is being nice.

One way of being really nice would be to pick up some “unforgettably you,” smile-making stocking stuffers or a few heart-warming presents you could only feel good about putting under the tree.

Imagine its Christmas Day.

It’s Christmas Day; as you stand there in the living room, seeing the tree sparkling, decorated and aglow. The lights are just right; you hear the music, soft and low, swaying in the background, reminding you of what life’s really all about — family, and love, and sharing and thankfulness.

Then you hear a name being called, pulling you back, ever so gently, into the Christmas picture. It’s the name of your loved one being called, the one for whom you bought a present. Your loved one moves close to the tree, hands out, heart open.

Flashing back to a few weeks ago, you thought about buying an online gift from one of those way-to-famous, get-it-all-here, one-stop shops (it fits all sizes, anyway) places. Then, briefly, only briefly, before you were overcome with feelings you couldn’t stand, you thought about just adding one of those pre-paid gift cards to your purchase at the grocery store. But, you didn’t want to be that person, the person who gave that gift.

And now that the present is opened, the smiles so bright — it would be absurd to ask (how could anyone not know), as so many have, and will ask again — “do you like it?” Really?

You shopped local this time, taking a path that made all the difference.

You did your shopping in Hometown, Kentucky, USA.

With all the promise of so much joy, for so many people, why wouldn’t everyone shop locally?

There are only two answers: Time and money. Right?

And when we get right down to brass tacks, it’s just money. If you are like most, chances are you think it’s just more expensive to buy locally. And maybe it is, but not always. I’m constantly amazed at what great deals I can get at local shops.

But, even if it were always more expensive, would it be worth a spending a couple of extra bucks for that Kodak moment? How much is a Hallmark Christmas worth? Is it priceless?

I don’t know. I’m not a rich guy, myself, but I’d pay a lot to see my wife smile on Christmas morning, because I bought her a Kentucky crafted present. It’s like one of my dear friends here at the Arts Council explained to me, “I don’t have the finances to only shop locally, but I do all that I can.” That makes sense.

The number one reason to shop locally is because it will make your loved ones happy, on Christmas day and throughout the year.

Many of those gifts, bought from mega corporations whose names begin with A to W on down the line to Z, have a shelf life somewhere between a couple days, a week, or perhaps a month, at most. Then, it’s off to the next shiny toy — at least that is my experience with a lot of the gifts I get.

It’s the rare ones: a precious work of art, a moving piece of music recorded by a regional band, furniture, food, drink or other gifts of joy, which I treasure throughout the year. What would you treasure, I wonder, that can only be got locally?

Shop local; there are other good reasons. Shopping locally supports the community, keeps money in your hometown, goes to pay wages of our neighbors and artisans (writers, crafters, painters, musicians, and many other wonderful people we could not live without) who work in our community.

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The shop local gifts are sure to be unique, showing just how much you love someone. The crowds are smaller, the shop keepers and other shoppers are by far and away, much friendlier.

Another thing I know that doesn’t occur to us too much: shop keepers are people too.

If you didn’t think shop keepers are people too, you’re not to blame. It’s hard to think of those companies as people, because they’re not. But local shop owners are people, who often struggle to make a living, in a world gone corporate and online, schlepping stuff made somewhere far away.

This Christmas you can bless your loved ones and yourself by buying a My Hometown, Kentucky gift. Your purchase will also bless your local shop owner. Think of buying your hometown gift as your little present to those who do so much to make your community the wonderful, livable place it is.

Buying locally means buying two gifts (one for your loved one and one for the shop owner). You can’t beat a “buy one, get one” deal in terms of value.

Categories: Arts Advocacy | 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Oakley and Eva Farris

This is the ninth and final entry in our 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts blog series. I hope you have enjoyed reading these interviews as much as I enjoyed conducting them. Thank you for your shares, comments, re-blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts. Each of the nine recipients — whether a business, arts organization or individual — offers a unique perspective on participating in the arts in Kentucky. I am proud to have met each and every one of the individuals who will receive awards during today’s ceremony.

Our final interview is with the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Milner Award recipients. You’ll notice the plural there as this year’s recipients are a married couple, Oakley and Eva Farris of Covington.

The Milner Award is considered the most prestigious of the nine Governor’s Awards. It was established in 1977 in honor of B. Hudson Milner, a Louisville utility executive and civic leader, whose contributions to the arts in Kentucky remain important to this day. The Milner Award is presented to Kentucky residents or organizations located in Kentucky for outstanding philanthropic, artistic or other contributions to the arts.

I have to tell you, sitting down with the Farrises made for a delightful afternoon. Oakley and Eva Farris spent their lives together as business partners. Mr. Farris is a native of Kentucky. Mrs. Farris is from Cuba. They met in Florida and married thereafter. I asked how long they had been together. Mr. Farris would only say, “We’ve been married several years. Honestly, we have been.”

Mr. Farris spent his professional life as a traveling salesman — one who never took up driving, I might add. Mrs. Farris, who has a degree in business, supported Mr. Farris as his partner every step of the way. “She gives me a suggestion and I jump,” he said of their professional life together.

Schools, arts organizations, civic organizations, museums and libraries are just a few of the types of institutions supported by the Farrises. They have generously invested in Northern Kentucky University, The Carnegie Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, and the Behringer-Crawford Museum, to name a few. And isn’t “invested” an interesting way to describe giving? I thought so, too. You’ll not have to read far to learn why.

Again, congratulations to all nine recipients of the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts. The awards will be televised on KET and KETKY in the coming month. You can find a schedule at the bottom of this post.

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How did you come to be philanthropists for the arts?

Oakley Farris: We’re not philanthropists. Period. We don’t give money away. We invest in our community, and we expect a return. In my mind’s eye that word denotes some big shot giving his money away and that’s not for us.

Tell me about your support for the arts.

Oakley Farris: How do you describe art? I dare say the majority of people would think of art like behind you, that beautiful picture. But you know, art comes in many forms. Art can be a book. It can be a good-looking woman with beautiful lines. Or a beat up Coca-Cola bottle or a can. It’s true. That’s part of art. And I’ve said for years art is an integral part of our education system. Unfortunately art has been taken out of many of our schools. Correct me if I’m wrong. Bad news. Bad news.

Why do you personally feel making gifts to the arts is important?

Eva Farris: I think it’s very important, especially, it’s part of living. You don’t just need material things. You have to look farther. Especially kids, so they grow with some sense of vision. You see the difference in these children when they draw, you see the art in there, the feeling there just to find it, promote it. It’s very important.

Is education the most important thing for you to invest in?

Oakley Farris: I tell you what, I was such a lousy student. It was the grace of God I got that diploma. It’s just like yesterday, I go up to get the diploma, and the principal was a big tall gentleman. He looked down at me, and I could read his mind, “How did you get up here?” It’s extremely important to me. Personally, I feel like our entire nation is being dumbed down. There are jobs in this country they can’t fill, because they don’t have the citizens well-educated enough to fill those jobs. And that all has to do with art when you think about it.

Eva Farris: It makes character in a person, too. …If you don’t have art in an education, for me it’s worthless. It produces more imagination.

Oakley Farris: Art unleashes the brain. It stimulates the brain.

Viewing schedule for the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts (all times Eastern)

KET Sunday, Nov. 3 – 2 p.m.

KET Monday, Nov. 4 – 4 a.m.

KETKY Sunday, Nov. 3 – 11 a.m., 7 p.m., midnight

KETKY Monday, Nov. 4, 7 a.m., 11 p.m.

KETKY Friday, Nov. 8 – 6 a.m., 9 p.m.

KETKY Saturday, Nov. 9 – 8 a.m.

KETKY Wednesday, Nov. 20 – 2 p.m. EST

KETKY Monday, Nov. 25 – 4 p.m.

KETKY Thursday, Dec. 5 – 1 a.m.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Arts Advocacy | 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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