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Original Santa sculpture by Lindy Evans

The Kentucky Artisan Center celebrates the holidays with a wide array of arts’ events and music. Come watch artists demonstrate, meet Kentucky authors, listen to artists perform Christmas music, and enjoy your holiday shopping. At the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea you can find special gifts by over 750 Kentucky artists!

Lindy Evans of Berea will sculpt Santas from polymer clay in her demonstration on Dec. 2 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Center.

Evans creates one-of-a-kind, limited edition Santas and dolls developed from studies of real people. She sculpts the faces from polymer clay, paints the features, and uses vintage fabrics to sew the clothing she designs.

There will also be live music and a book signing on Dec. 2. Musician Gary Bertram, of Georgetown, will sing and perform holiday favorites on the guitar from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Center.

Jim Shields of Lexington will also sign copies of his children’s book “Starbird’s Special Gift” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day at the Kentucky Artisan Center. Shields’ story is about a young boy who cares for a bird that he finds struggling in the snow. The story offers readers numerous life lessons with illustrations that bring the story to life for all ages.

Kathy Conroy of Pleasureville will demonstrate her intricate scratchboard techniques on Dec. 9 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Center. Conroy creates realistic images from her drawings and photographs on scratchboard. Scratchboard is a form of direct engraving where the artist starts with a Masonite panel coated with white clay. This clay layer is covered with a thin layer of black India ink leaving the artist a solid black panel as a starting point. Lines are then cut or scratched through the ink to the clay surface and color is added with a brush onto the exposed clay areas.

Photographer, geographer, and writer David Zurick of Berea will also be at the Kentucky Artisan Center on Dec. 9. He will sign copies of his new book, “Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond” as well as his book “Southern Crossings” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Zurick, winner of the 2006 National Outdoor Book Award, recounts an event in his life that seems exceedingly uncomplicated: he builds a goldfish pond in his backyard yet there is more to a goldfish pond than meets the eye. Zurick’s compelling story travels the world, encompassing places of extraordinary beauty and rich cultural traditions. “Southern Crossings” is a photographic journey to places and people of the southern United States.

Live music on Dec. 9 will be performed by the trio Na Skylark made up of Lorinda Jones on Celtic harp, Cathy Wilde on Irish Uilleann Pipes, and Janelle Canerday on fiddle. They will perform holiday favorites and selections from their new CD “Old Ceol” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Three members of the Berea Welcome Center Carvers will demonstrate a variety of woodcarving styles and techniques on Dec. 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Center.

Lexington musician Jan Hill will also play a selection of holiday music on her harp on Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Center.

Born in Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma, Hill dreamed of playing the harp after hearing it played when she was a child. Hill purchased a harp, taught herself to play, and then took harp classes in Singapore and the U.S. Hill will be playing a selection of holiday favorites from her CD “Christmas Harp Carols from the Hills” available at the Center.

Artists Donna & Donnie Smith will demonstrate their painted gourds and ornaments on Dec. 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Center.

When Donnie and Donna Smith planted gourds by their back porch, their journey as craftspeople began. First, a design is drawn on the gourd with pencil and then the design is burnt into the gourd surface with a wood burning tool. After that, they paint the designs with watercolors, inks, dyes, and water-based stains with each gourd being sealed with a clear acrylic.

The trio Raison D’Etre will be performing holiday music with clean harmonies accompanied with guitars, drums, mandolin, and keyboards on Dec 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Center.

The Kentucky Artisan Center will be closed Christmas Day.

Carl Von Fischer of Mount Vernon will demonstrate his oil painting techniques on Dec. 30 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Center.

Von Fischer attended the Central Art Academy, studying commercial art and graduated with top honors. He then worked for advertising agencies in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Greenville before moving out west to Missoula, MT where in the open spaces of the west, he began to teach himself to paint. In 2003, Von Fischer moved to Kentucky to be near his son and grandchildren where he now paints full-time. Von Fischer paints rural landscapes and animals.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily, year-round, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information about center events call 859-985-5448, go to the center’s website, or visit the center’s Facebook page.

“In For The Cure” by Franklin County artist Fran Redmon

Work by 29 Kentucky artists will hang in Frankfort for the Governor’s Derby Exhibit, an annual initiative coordinated by the Kentucky Arts Council.

This exhibit is on display through May 8 in the Capitol Rotunda, 700 Capital Ave. in Frankfort.

“The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored tradition, and so, too, is our celebration of work by Kentucky artists,” said Kentucky First Lady Glenna Bevin. “The Governor’s Derby Exhibit is something we want all Kentuckians and visitors to our wonderful state to come to Frankfort and enjoy as we count down the days until the first Saturday in May.”

The exhibit celebrates Kentucky stories and traditions, including its tobacco heritage, which Frankfort artist Fran Redmon chose to capture in her pastel work titled “In For the Cure,” which shows a colorful rendition of a barn with drying tobacco hanging inside.

“I grew up in Woodford County as the daughter of a tobacco farmer with my five siblings,” Redmon said. “We worked on the farm every year. It was something we were all part of. When I drive down the road in the fall and see tobacco hanging, I remember those days.”

The barn in her piece is one she saw on a fall drive in Franklin County near Switzer.

“I took a picture of it and decided to do a painting,” she said. “I liked the way it was weathered, but the thing that caught my eye was the dramatic lighting of the sun coming across the front. I liked the drama of the light and shadow at that time of day.”

This is the second time Redmon’s work has been selected for the Governor’s Derby Exhibit.

Unlike most Kentucky Arts Council exhibits, which are only open to adjudicated arts council program participants, the Governor’s Derby Exhibit includes art from any Kentuckian age 18 or older.

“One of my goals as executive director is creating more opportunities for Kentucky artists across the state to show work in arts council exhibits,” said Lydia Bailey Brown, arts council executive director. “These exhibits often help us discover even more talent in the state, and gives those artists the confidence to put themselves out there.”

Below is a full list of artists included in the display, their county of residence and title of artwork:

  • Bill Berryman, Clark, “The Piper”
  • Bill Burton, Daviess, “Keeneland Fall Meet”
  • CeCe Butcher, Pulaski, “Tribute to Bill Monroe”
  • Robert Clark, Scott, “Mine That Bird’s Derby”
  • Laura Eklund, Carter, “Kentucky Sky”
  • Darryl Halbrooks, Madison, “Natura Morta 5”
  • Jerielle Hanlon, Fayette, “Kentucky Agate and Cloud Abstract”
  • Marilyn Holmes, Jefferson, “I Too Sing America”
  • Frederica Diane Huff, Jefferson, “A Kentucky Girl and Her Horse”
  • Robert Hunt, Madison, “Kentucky Derby Story”
  • Shirley Jeter, Fayette, “Tradition”
  • Betty Liles, Christian, “The Apple Barn”
  • David Neace, Jessamine, “Earth 1946”
  • Kevin Osbourn, Clark, “The Rock Bridge”
  • Ken Page, Kenton, “The Maestro Takes a Walk”
  • Linda Pierce, Christian, “Troop Train”
  • Monica Pipia, Fayette, “The Turnaround”
  • Fran Redmon, Franklin, “In For the Cure”
  • Cassandra Russell Dossett, Jefferson, “My Old Kentucky Saddler”
  • Marcheta Sparrow, Franklin, “Intensity – Expression of a Kentucky Champion”
  • Wayne Stacy, Franklin, “Faith Abandoned”
  • Paula Stone-Buckner, Montgomery, “The Queen’s Court”
  • Jason Sturgill, Fayette, “Face Shielded from the Sun Floating Slowly Down the River”
  • Billy Tackett, Boone, “Pearl Bryan”
  • Susan Tolliver, Jefferson, “Surging Ahead”
  • Patty Trujillo, Jefferson, “Uncle Damon”
  • Connie Vice, Oldham, “Worthington’s Garage”
  • Amy Welborn, Oldham, “Mimosa Sunrise”
  • Angela Wells, Jefferson, “Abe’s Last Garden”

The Governor’s Derby Exhibit is open to the public during regular State Capitol building hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

View a slideshow of the exhibit online.

On Saturday, April 15, Hunter S. Thompson fans from all over will gather at the LFPL’s Main Library at 301 York St to celebrate the life, work, and legacy of the Gonzo journalist creator.  Expanded panel discussions, spoken word and poetry performances, and an all-local musical lineup set this year’s festival apart from previous years.

GonzoFest Louisville will host two different panel discussions on the topics of The Literary Impact of Hunter S. Thompson and Freedom of Speech/Media Literacy.  Dr. Lee Remington Williams JD, PhD, of Bellarmine University will lead a 45-minute lecture titled Politics:  Decadent and Depraved, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Journalist Michael Lindenberger will moderate the panel discussions and lecture.  All panels and spoken word performances will take place inside the Main Library.

GonzoFest Louisville will also feature an all-local lineup with music by Nellie Pearl, Otis Junior, Brother Wolves, Satellite Twin, Brooks Ritter, and Sativa Gumbo.  All bands will perform in the library parking lot on York St.  Juan Thompson, Hunter’s son, will be here as well, signing copies of his book Stories I Tell Myself:  Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson.  Additionally, the festival will host a screening of Where the Buffalo Roam, the semi-biographical film based on the experiences of Hunter S. Thompson starring Thompson’s friend Bill Murray.  Dean Otto, Curator of Film for the Speed Art Museum, will introduce Where the Buffalo Roam.

The 2017 GonzoFest Louisville celebration is from noon until 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 15.  The festival will take place both on the exterior grounds of the Main branch and inside the library.  Admission is free, but attendees are encouraged to make a $10 donation when entering the festival.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit LFPL.

Learn more at

The work of 24 Kentucky artists will grace the hallways of the Capitol Annex beginning Feb. 6.

The Kentucky Arts Council exhibit “Kentucky Visions at the Capitol” will be on display 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Feb. 6 through March 31 at the Annex. The exhibit features 58 individual pieces by Kentucky Crafted artists and Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship recipients.

“Longtime legislators have always remarked how much they look forward to hosting ‘Visions’ at the Annex, but there are new legislators joining the General Assembly this session who will discover outstanding artwork by Kentucky’s finest artists,” said Lydia Bailey Brown, arts council executive director. “With the corps of artists selected for this exhibit, Kentucky’s arts community is putting its best foot forward.”

Michael McCardwell, a 1998 recipient of an Al Smith Fellowship and current Kentucky Crafted artist, has three pieces in this year’s exhibit: “My Town,” “Funny Drawing” and “APDYF,” all in colored ink. McCardwell said he values arts council exhibits like “Visions” as opportunities for artists to stretch their creative legs.

“Art can involve creativity and some experiments in art are not successful,” McCardwell said. “But one needs the freedom to try new things and the Kentucky Arts Council provides that support, both as an agency and through the individual staff members who take a personal interest in my work.

“It’s an honor to be in any show, and having my work in this show, one that represents work from artists across the state, makes an artist feel that their work is valued by our government.”

The artists represented in the exhibit, their media and county of residence include:

  • Philis Alvic, fibers, Fayette
  • Bill Berryman, graphite, Clark *
  • Patricia Brock, photography, Jefferson
  • Marianne Brown, ceramic, Anderson
  • Jim Cantrell, watercolor/oil on canvas, Nelson
  • Steve Clay, watercolor, Barren *
  • Kathleen Conroy, scratchboard, Henry *
  • Ray Daughtery, photography, Scott *
  • Bruce Frank, photography, Scott
  • Timothy Gold, oils, Kenton
  • Gary Graham, wood, Fayette *
  • Elsie Harris, acrylic on canvas, Fayette
  • Eva King, paper, Calloway
  • Michael McCardwell, colored ink, Shelby
  • Gary Mesa-Gaido, photography on aluminum, Rowan
  • Michael Nichols, silverpoint on paper, Warren *
  • Kathleen O’Brien, watercolor, drawing collage, Mercer
  • Laura Poulette, watercolor, Madison *
  • Cecila Ridge, fibers, Jefferson
  • Lacey Roberts, fibers, Franklin *
  • Judy Rosati, hand-colored photography, Jefferson
  • Sarah Spradlin, oils and acrylic, Bourbon
  • Jason Sturgill, mixed media, Fayette *
  • Sharon Tesser, fibers, Jefferson *

* First time exhibiting in “Kentucky Visions at the Capitol.”

Visit the Kentucky Arts Council website for a slideshow of the work on exhibit.

“Funny Drawing” (ink) by Michael McCardwell, Kentucky Crafted artist and Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship recipient. The work of McCardwell and 23 other Kentucky artists will be on display Feb. 6-March 31 in the Kentucky Arts Council’s “Kentucky Visions at the Capitol” exhibit at the Capitol Annex in Frankfort.

“Funny Drawing” (ink) by Michael McCardwell, Kentucky Crafted artist and Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship recipient. The work of McCardwell and 23 other Kentucky artists will be on display Feb. 6-March 31 in the Kentucky Arts Council’s “Kentucky Visions at the Capitol” exhibit at the Capitol Annex in Frankfort.

For more information about “Kentucky Visions at the Capitol,” contact Kate Sprengnether, arts council public art and design director, at or 502-892-3111.

kyartisancenter-may2016-20In 2017 Kentucky celebrates the 225th Anniversary of becoming a state and the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea honors that history with the exhibit 225: Artists Celebrate Kentucky’s History.

This new exhibit will be March 25-Sept. 23, 2017, in the center’s main gallery and will feature both two and three dimensional works that record, capture, embrace and celebrate a facet or subject from Kentucky’s 225 year history.

With a long and rich history behind it, Kentucky offers artists a multitude of historical subjects, ideas, traditions and connections. Original works by Kentucky artists that use this history as a subject, focal or starting point will be considered for this exhibit. Kentucky history should be an integral part of each creation as conveyed by choice of subject or it may connect style wise to a historic Kentucky creative tradition such as the Shakers. Works submitted can be functional or non-functional with no dimension exceeding 4 feet.

As part of this exhibit, artists will be asked to write about the particular Kentucky history that inspired their work and give some background and insight into their creative processes.

Each year the Kentucky Artisan Center develops and presents several special exhibits to showcase works by Kentucky artisans. These exhibits focus on a specific medium, theme, technique, or subject and often include artists and works not regularly on display at the center.

Information about the exhibit and an entry form are available by contacting the Center. You can also request an entry form and prospectus by mail from the: Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Attn: “225”, 200 Artisan Way, Berea, KY 40403 or by calling 859-985-5448. The deadline for entry is March 1, 2017.

The center features works by more than 700 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. Special exhibits currently on display include, “Have a Seat: Chairs by Kentucky Artisans,” through March 18, 2017, and in the lobby, on display Jan. 7- April 30, “Reveal: Don Ament and Joyce Garner.” For more information about events call 859-985-5448, go to the center’s website or visit us on Facebook.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Twenty-three Kentucky schools will send students to compete on March 7 for the title of state champion in the Poetry Out Loud statewide competition.

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The competition starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to schoolwide competition, then to the state competition in March at the Grand Theatre in Frankfort. The state champion will represent Kentucky at the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 25-26 in Washington, D.C.

A group of storytellers, poets and stage performers from the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artists Directory will be visiting each of the participating schools to mentor students on how to improve their recitations.

Among the 23 schools is Central Hardin High School in Cecilia. This will be Central Hardin’s second year in the statewide competition, and Kathy Thompson, Central Hardin arts and humanities teacher, said Poetry Out Loud provides a different method of artistic expression than what is in most school curriculums.

“The arts are important. Student performance is important. We have lots of kids in band, chorus and doing drama, and those are wonderful, but this is a different genre, and it focuses on the poetry,” Thompson said. “It’s performance, but it’s about the poetry. This allows them to delve into specific poems they can really learn and go beyond the words.

“Poetry Out Loud gives students a purpose for studying poetry,” she added. “They pick the poetry apart to find the meaning, and then they perform it.”

Participating schools are:

  • Allen County-Scottsville High School, Scottsville
  • Augusta Independent Schools, Augusta *
  • Barbourville High School, Barbourville *
  • Betsy Layne High School, Stanville
  • Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green *
  • Boyle County High School, Danville *
  • Central Hardin High School, Cecilia
  • Clay County High School, Manchester *
  • Conner High School, Hebron
  • Elizabethtown High School, Elizabethtown
  • George Rogers Clark High School, Winchester
  • Grant County High School, Dry Ridge
  • Hart County High School, Munfordville
  • Leslie County High School, Hyden
  • Livingston Central High School, Smithland
  • Marshall County High School, Benton *
  • McCracken County High School, Paducah
  • Middlesboro High School, Middlesboro *
  • Moore Traditional School, Louisville *
  • Phelps Junior and Senior High School, Phelps
  • Red Bird Christian School, Beverly *
  • Trimble County High School, Bedford *
  • West Carter High School, Olive Hill

*Denotes a school new to the Poetry Out Loud program in 2017

The winner of the state finals receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up receives $100, with $200 going to his or her school library.

For more information about Kentucky’s Poetry Out Loud state finals, visit the arts council’s website or contact Jean St. John, arts education director, at or 502-892-3124.

The Kentucky Arts Council, with the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, launched the 2016 “Give a Gift Made in Kentucky” campaign today. The campaign, which features a variety of work by Kentucky-based artists, will run through Dec. 31.

Artists in Kentucky Arts Council’s Kentucky Crafted, Architectural Artists and Performing Artists directories as well as Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship recipients will feature their studios, galleries and shops for holiday open houses and other events showcasing their work. In addition, the Give a Gift Web pages will feature holiday events from the arts council’s Kentucky Arts Partnership organizations. These events will run through the entire “Give a Gift” campaign, and are located throughout the state.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, where visitors can purchase fine Kentucky-made products from more than 700 Kentucky artisans year-round, has a busy schedule of artist demonstrations, book signings, musical performances and more throughout the holiday season.

Shoppers interested in purchasing Kentucky-made items can visit more than 20 businesses designated as Kentucky Crafted Retailers. These businesses carry items from Kentucky artists, including those in the arts council’s Kentucky Crafted program, Architectural Artists Directory and Performing Arts Directory. Many retailers have special events, promotions and discounts throughout the holiday season.

For more information on “Give a Gift,” contact Tom Musgrave, arts council communications director, at 502-892-3122 or; or Gwen Heffner, artisan center information specialist, at 859-985-5448, ext. 230 or

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council is celebrating 50 years of service in 2016.