Visual Arts

A cup of ambition

Arts appreciators — and even those who don’t know they appreciate the arts — would certainly notice if all the artful products of creative minds suddenly disappeared. We’re sensitive to extremes in scarcity, but are we grateful for what we have in abundance? We’ve all heard “art in everyday life,” “artful living,” or “without art the Earth is just ‘eh.’” But, do we pause, take note and appreciate every time creative people show us that arts are a part of everything and often the reason for doing anything (or the reason for doing anything without incessantly complaining about it)?

I wanted to take a minute to point out the creative work of an artist who — literally — serves an audience who may or may not consider themselves artsy. She makes art with something routine and commonplace for anyone desiring productivity, creative or otherwise. Some of us rely heavily on her medium for survival.

Lauren Hunter-Smith makes art out of coffee, more precisely, lattes. You can see or even consume her craftsmanship in person at Third Street Stuff & Coffee, or you can enjoy her lattes remotely on Instagram.  She’s currently working on her first series, letters of the alphabet illustrated by animals.

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Thank you to all those artists, like Lauren, who make life less ordinary.

Sarah Schmitt, Community Arts and Access Director

Categories: Other, Visual Arts

Meet new artists at the Market: Robbie Mueller

You can expect the same standard of excellence every year at Kentucky Crafted: The Market but never the same exact show. The Kentucky Arts Council juries new participants into the Kentucky Crafted Program annually, so there is always new artwork to discover. Meet some of the artists new to the Market in 2016.

Meet Robbie Mueller: Folk Art Kentucky, LaGrange – Booth 302


How did you get started? What is your training?
I am a self-taught artist. While building furniture (after my retirement from teaching), I started carving “accents” to accompany my furniture at shows. To my surprise the people wanted to buy the carvings. I discovered I was making 3-D sculptural art.

Robbie Mueller

How long have you been in the Kentucky Crafted program?
I was adjudicated into the Kentucky Crafted program in 2014, but this will be my first time to exhibit at Kentucky Crafted: The Market.

What do you want buyers to know about your work? What makes it different?
My work is mostly dimensional. I use wood, papier-mâché, salvaged, or found objects to make my pieces. I make sculptural forms, bas-relief, linocuts and do some 2-D painting. My subjects vary from traditional folk themes (animals, farms and people) to modern. My work is different in the way that I incorporate a variety of media and materials used. The uniqueness and variety in my work has made it recognizable to many.

Name some of your career accomplishments.
I have been accepted into the Kentucky Guild of Artists & Craftsmen and have exhibited at the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead and the Kentucky Museum of Arts & Crafts in Louisville. I’ve been juried into a variety of regional arts shows, like the Woodland Art Festival in Lexington, as well as festivals in Georgia, Alabama and Indiana, and was named Best of Show at Gallery 104’s Recycled Art Show in LaGrange.

What are you looking forward to about showing at Kentucky Crafted: The Market?
I am looking forward to networking with other Kentucky Crafted artists who have gained valuable business experiences in marketing their work and to introducing my work to a new audience. I want to gain experience with developing the potential for a secondary wholesale market. I look forward to the interactions involved in meeting new art enthusiasts, art collectors and potential wholesale clients.

The Market will be open to the public 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 5 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 6. Tickets are $10 for one day and $15 for both days, and can be purchased online or at the door. Children 15 years of age and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

Categories: Other, Visual Arts | Tags:

You need to be at the Creative Industry Summit, Nov. 12-13!

Kentucky artists and creative people who make all or part of their living from selling their work are the backbone of the Kentucky creative industry. Yet, many Kentucky artists don’t think of themselves as small business operators or entrepreneurs, which can create disconnect between artists and valuable resource providers when artists seek business development assistance.

Level of Need for Various Resources

Click to see this graph at actual size.

The Kentucky Creative Industry Report, released by the Kentucky Arts Council in December 2014, included important data about the Commonwealth’s creative workforce that has provided new opportunities for the arts council to address some of these issues.

As part of the study, we conducted a survey of Kentucky artists and creative freelancers. That survey gave us an overview of the needs of those who work in the creative industry. It helped us set goals and identify new avenues of assistance to better meet the needs of the state’s creative workforce.

While the survey details specific needs, when looking at the list overall (which you can find on Page 18 of the report or in the graphic to the left) many of those needs fall under one category – business training and development. We’ve addressed this in many ways this year, providing opportunities to artists and creative entrepreneurs to gain valuable skills that will help them grow their arts businesses.

The arts council is offering another great opportunity for artists to receive business training, generate ideas for growth, learn how to market and promote their work, and get in on a discussion about how to become arts leaders in their own communities through team-building. Our one-day workshop for artists and creative entrepreneurs at the Creative Industry Summit Workshops on Nov. 12 will cover all of these topics and give artists a chance to network among their peers. The workshop is $10 and features excellent speakers and workshop presenters. Check out the agenda online and register today. Have questions or need more information? Contact me at

Please share this exciting learning opportunity with your own networks of Kentucky artists. By doing so, you’ll be helping the arts council in its mission to strengthen and grow the state’s creative industry.

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Arts Organizations, Folk and Traditional Arts, Literary Arts, Performing Arts, Visual Arts

Good food deserves better: revenge of the ramekin

This post has nothing to with ramekins. It’s just that this is the fourth in a series of musings about artful dinnerware, and I’m running out of clever sequel titles.

If you’ve read the other three posts, you know the gist. If you’re going to entertain this holiday season – or anytime around the calendar – don’t serve your wonderful food on trash (i.e., disposable plates and aluminum pans). Conversely, if all you have time to prepare is a “pack of Nabs,” at least unwrap them and place them on a tea towel in a lovely basket. Make bad food look edible, and good food look superb by serving on Kentucky Crafted items for the kitchen and dinning room.

I’ve covered the basics like plates, mugs and casserole dishes, and now I’d like to get fancy. The following are not things that everyone needs. What you are about to experience covers two things important to holiday entertaining: wowing the cream cheese out of the people who come to your house and finding gift items for the gourmand who thinks he or she already has everything.


For example, you’re never going to impress your wine aficionado friend with a bottle of wine, unless you’re a sommelier. Stop trying, and buy this fine wine caddy by Doug Haley. Made from maple, cherry or exotic woods, the caddy will hold bottles, glasses and even cheese and crackers or desserts.


I know it’s not practical to buy kitchen gadgets that only do one thing, but sometimes a uni-tasker’s unique nature is a good conversation starter (i.e., guest impresser). Besides, Stone Fence Pottery’s garlic grater works up garlic and artfully presents oil emulsions for dipping – that’s one more task than a regular, old garlic press.

3 chip and dip final_1

Matthew Gaddie is a skilled ceramicist, but — I’m embarrassed to admit — I had no idea what this was when I first saw it at Kentucky Crafted: The Market.  I sort of thought it was a bird bath, maybe? That’s why these things are best left to the artists; this is actually a genius chip and dip or salad bowl, equipped to serve three different dressings or dips. This is the reason he was best of show in 2014, and I’m merely writing an article about his creations. Amazing, impressive, and no one else you know has one. Furthermore, you can get the ugly Wishbone and Ken’s Steakhouse dressing bottles off of your gorgeous table.

So that’s how you dazzle even the most ennui-ridden epicurean. Oh! I almost forgot; here’s an assortment of ramekins from Tater Knob Pottery in case you were feeling cheated by the title.


Sarah Schmitt, arts access director 

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


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: , , ,

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