Posts Tagged With: scenic byways

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.


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: , , , , , , , , ,

A summer adventure tie-dye for

At the arts council and among arts organizations, we are always pondering the question: what configurations of people (families, groups of friends, individuals) decide to go to an arts event, and at what point do they make that decision (three weeks before, last minute)? We have noticed a trend in the past 15 to 20 years of people not committing until the very last minute. They don’t want to pre-register unless space is limited; they want to get up that morning and only commit when their feet touch the threshold. This was strange to me; I liked a planned weekend. If I wanted to do something and it fit my calendar, I wrote it down, registered and showed up five minutes early. That was me…until I had a two-year-old.

Having a two-year-old is fun, but it is messy. You want to give him or her a lot of hands-on opportunities to practice any of life’s necessities and experiences like bathing, eating and art projects. However, each requires plenty of prep time and a good amount of clean up in order to preserve your furniture and sanity. Furthermore, toddlers do not keep day planners. If they wake up in an ice cream mood; you’re going for ice cream if good behavior permits. If they wake up in a finger painting mood, then finger painting it is.

My two-year-old is not a homebody either. He likes to go out, be around nature and see something new (and just about everything is new at this point). When I found out that  his grandparents were coming to visit on May 25, I knew he was not going to be satisfied with being cooped up in a house with a bunch of adults or eating a nice meal at a restaurant. (He feels flatware is inefficient and overrated.) More importantly, I also knew that with his grandparents living several hours away, we should be making memories.

Luckily, I “like” many of our Kentucky Arts Partners on Facebook, so I get regular updates about their activities for families. I had seen the Headley-Whitney’s announcement of a tie-dying program for at least a month. I looked at the details several times. I weighed the wills and whims of all the potential family participants. I still wasn’t sure. A week prior to their visit, my in-laws voiced an interest in eating at Wallace Station, which is right up the road from the museum. I hemmed and hawed, “Do we eat before or after? When will my son take a nap? What do we have to tie-dye? Will everyone else think this is a stupid idea?

I finally decided to go the night before, and it was as though the stars had to align perfectly to make it happen. I gathered up everything white or light colored in the house (blood donor t-shirts, shoes, an apron, socks, whatever). When my in-laws arrived the next morning, I announced my plans, and they were game. They knew the baby would like it, and it was a nice day to be doing something outdoors.

We arrived at the museum grounds, and all the materials were ready as advertised. The fun atmosphere was amplified by 1960s music, and staff and volunteers helped us band our shirts and such to create fun designs. The best part: we all came away with a little souvenir from a beautiful day. The second best part: when we were finished, they cleaned up the complicated mess my son made.


We brought our creations home and dried them on the front porch.

Since doing “Groovy Threads” I have been more deliberate about making decisions to go out and “do art” sooner and more often. I rarely ever regret the things I determine to do; if nothing else, I learn a valuable lesson. I have plenty of “would haves” and “wished I hads” about the things I opt not to do. Pay attention to those requests and posts on Facebook for the rest of the summer.

If you want to have your own tie-dye adventure, Headley-Whitney is doing  “Groovy Threads Tie-Dye” again on Wednesday, July 31, 2013, at 1 p.m. If you’re looking for a way to entertain a two-year-old, they will host Mini Monet, an art class for toddlers (two to five years old) on August 3 from 1-2 p.m.  And don’t forget about the Kentucky Arts Partner offering  programs in your area. Create some art, and create some memories.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Other | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This summer, be an adventurous listener

When you travel this summer, music can be part of the journey and the destination. If you really want to have an adventure on the road, put aside your MP3 players and  favorite CDs, and forget the radio stations saved in your channel memory. Summer is a time to burst out of your usual, comfortable musical realm and be an adventurous listener!

 Journey with radio

Tune in, and turn on to something new. Radio is a conduit for creative and eclectic communities. Here are a few stations that will challenge and excite you while you travel across Kentucky:

WMMT-FM 88.7, Whitesburg

WRFL-FM 88.1, Lexington

WFPK-FM 91.9, Louisville

WKYU-FM, 88.9, Bowling Green

Music destinations

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Whether you love bluegrass music, or tend to avoid it, a trip to the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro and the Bill Monroe Homeplace in nearby Rosine will expand your mind. Experience the living legacy of bluegrass at the ROMP festival June 27-29.

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame

Here, you will experience exhibits, tours and programs about artists from many genres of American music who have made a big impact and who are all from Kentucky. Country and bluegrass? Check. Blues and pop? Check. Opera and jazz? Check.

National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame

Experience the birthplace of thumb style guitar made famous by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Visit the Merle Travis Music Center in Muhlenberg County at the end of summer—late September—when the Home of the Legends Weekend and the Hall of Fame ceremony occur.

Butcher Holler

Take in the sights and sounds of the home place of the proud coalminer’s daughter, Loretta Lynn. If you are lucky, you might arrange a tour with Loretta’s brother, Herman Webb, like this blogger did.  Butcher Holler is just one site along the Country Music Highway. Learn more and order a copy of More than Music: A Heritage Driving Tour of Kentucky’s Route 23 here.

National Jug Band Jubilee

Did you know that Louisville was the birthplace of this enduring DIY music style? Plan now to go to the Jubilee on Sept. 21, so you can close out your summer with a jubilant thhhhhbbbtt!

Go beyond these suggestions. It is easy to find out about festivals, performing arts centers, and jam sessions all over Kentucky. You can start by surfing the Performing Arts Directory to find video and audio of artists you like. Visit their websites, collect their music, go to their shows.

Have fun, be adventurous and then post your experiences and recommendations below.

Mark Brown, folk and traditional arts program director

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On the byway again, part 3–better late to post than never!

“…a community’s shared aesthetic for how they decorate outdoors.”

It has been a few days since our last blog about our trip to the National Scenic Byways Conference.  We did finally make it to Minneapolis and we did it all on “Blue Highways” except the last 2 miles on I-94 that brought us to our hotel.


The Kentucky Folklife Program is an inter agency program of the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Historical Society.

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts | Tags: , ,

On the byway again

Ready to hit the road

Crazy is a word I woke up to this morning at 5:00 A.M. Crazy as in “I must be crazy to do this” or to quote Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, “this just might be crazy enough to work.”  Anyway, my “crazy” challenge is to do one of my infamous road trips where I extend a conference trip into a family vacation.  Such as driving to New York City for a National Association for State Arts Agency (the other NASAA) and finishing the trip with a family drive through upstate New York and Niagara Falls. My family has taken these kind of trips with me so often that my kids think it is the only way to do a vacation.  They work for me.  There is the fun of exploring and the exquisite joy you feel of finally delivering your paper at a conference, allowing you to be mentally free to enjoy the rest of your trip.


The Kentucky Folklife Program is an inter-agency program of the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Historical Society

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts | Tags: ,

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