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.
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