30 local potters spent 40 hours feeding Southern Ohio’s largest wood fired kiln July 24th and 25th. After cooling for a week, the kiln will be opened at 12 noon on Saturday. This is a special opportunity to get the first glimpse of the pottery and meet the potters while their pots are removed from the kiln.
here’s a short video I made of the kiln firing:
stop in Ripley, Ohio and support our local agriculture. It’s Farmer’s market only offers food that is grown within a 100-mile radius. It’s on main Street and open Saturday from 9am-2pm. Also visit Kinkead Ridge Vineyard from 11am-5pm
Cross the river at Maysville, Kentucky and stop to see why it was recently awarded the 2009 Governors Government Award for the arts! With its rich history and architecture, it is a haven for the visual and performing arts. Visit its local shops and galleries and bring the kids to see the Buffalo Trace Balloon Race and Disney’s Aladdin At The Washington Opera House playing this weekend!
Maysville, Kentucky is one of 3 cities chosen by the Kentucky Arts Council for an Arts District development program. As part of the program, members from each city visit each other to compare strengths & weaknesses and learn from each other. Famous as Kentucky’s Arts and Crafts capital, I think there are a lot of lessons we can learn from Berea’s example.
We began the day at the Kentucky Artisan Center At Berea, an outstanding gallery on interstate 75 that features Kentucky artists and craftsmen. The center’s director, Victoria Faoro spoke about the Artisan Center’s program, followed by a talk by the Berea’s mayor, Steve Connelly, sharing Berea’s history, and studies about tourism’s potential growth as an industry, and the importance of creative people in the development of the new economy. One of the city’s programs to grow and attract tourism in a sustainable way, is developing a network of hiking and biking trails.
Belle Jackson, Berea’s tourism director, treated us to a whirlwind trolley tour of the city. The trolley is used for special events, but on Saturdays, it is used to take tourists to the different sections of Berea. We started at the welcome center at the Old Town Artist Village, a restored train depot with information of things to do in Berea. The Welcome Center overlooks a restored log cabin in the heart of the Artist Village that hosts weekly bluegrass jam sessions on its porch.
I liked the city’s use of hands in their branding. They represent hand crafts. They had a program where artists painted fiberglass hands, (similar to Lexington’s horses, or Cincinnati’s pigs). They also commissioned an artist to create metal sculptures of hands to use to display historic information throughout the city.
Hands are also used for The “Studio Artists of Berea” marketing program. A city program where artists sign a contract agreeing to stay open at certain times and refer visitors to other studio artists and showcase at least 70% work that is created at their studio. In return, they are part of the map, marketing, and they use a common sign to identify participating members.
Our first studio stop was Weston Studio Glass, where we met glassblower, Michelle Weston, who demonstrated her craft in her studio. Her gallery has a large window into the studio where visitors can watch her work. Michelle talked about the benefits of having a studio in Berea, and benefits of the “Studio Artists of Berea” program. Click the video below to see Michelle at work:
Then we visited Gastineau Studio, where we met Ken and Sally Gastineau. Ken demonstrated turning a pewter cup, and talked about his successful business move from Santa Fe (a world famous art location) to Berea.
As we rode the trolley through Berea, Belle talked about Berea College, it’s history and influence on the city. The college has a proud tradition of charging no tuition, serving the Appalachian community, and living sustainably. It was the first college in the south to educate blacks (it was illegal at the time!)
In exchange for an education, students help the college by creating or selling crafts. Heated and cooled by geothermal heat, the college is serious about sustainability. The college has an eco village where students are challenged to live completely “off the grid. providing their own electricity and water.
For lunch, we visited the Boone Tavern & Hotel and Restaurant. A historic building owned by the college. The tavern manager, talked about the building’s 100 year birthday and recent renovations.
They preserved the building’s historic character (it is on the national register of historic places) AND continued to make history by being the first LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified hotel in Kentucky.
Berea students make up 80% of the Tavern staff, and much of the food comes from the College’s organic farms. The city also recently had a 100 mile pot luck, where all the food at the event was local, and came from a 100 mile radius.
After lunch, we visited the Berea Arts Council. We met the council’s executive director, Gwen Childs who talked about their programs to bring the arts to the larger community. Their gallery showcased a fine art quilt exhibit. The college provided a free space for the Arts Council for many years, they recently started paying a $50/month rent.
The Boone Tavern and Arts Council is located on College Square, a series of buildings owned by the college. It also provides space for many galleries that feature Kentucky Artists and Craftsmen, art supply stores, and restaurants.
During our visit, College Square was being decorated by Quilt banners. They were all unique, and created by different community organizations.
Our final stop was the Berea Craft Festival. Located in the Historic Indian Fort park, it showcases work from the Appalachian region, with demonstrations, including music, dance, and dying fibers with natural materials (over an open fire)
The visit to Berea was inspiring. It’s interesting that Berea College’s founder is a native of Maysville’s neighbor, Bracken county. The college’s progressive leadership seems to be the driving force for Berea’s culture. Imagine how different Maysville might be if John Fee had the opportunity to start his school in this area.
I recently talked to an artist friend who used to have a gallery in Maysville. He is moving back to Kentucky from Tucson, AZ, and decided that he wants to open his new gallery in Berea instead of Maysville. I want to convince him to return to Maysville, but after my visit, it will be very difficult in terms of resources for artists. Berea also appears to be much more in line with my personal core values as a citizen and artist.
Personally, I think Berea will be fine without me. It has plenty of artists active in it’s community. It is ready for the future and is well positioned to thrive as a cultural center. There is a much greater need for us here in Maysville.
After the trip, a few ideas that come to my mind (in no particular order) are:
Does the city use our trolleys to transport tourists between the two main destinations in our city (Downtown Maysville and Old Washington) on weekends?
could our local artists/guild/businesses commit to operate at certain hours and/or do demonstrations in exchange for being included in the city tours/marketing program?
can we come up with something creative like Berea’s hands to display information about our history and architecture?
I’m sorry for such a gap in updates to my website. I promise, I have not been sitting around lazy. Over the last 2 months, I participated in 9 different Art shows! And a few other activities.
Augusta Art Show
My mom and granny came for their first ever visit to Kentucky. It coincided with Augusta’s “Art In The Garden”, so they had a chance to see exactly what I do. Fortunately, the weather was good, and I made a few sales, so mom didn’t get a chance to see the “struggling” part of being an artist!
I volunteered to help with a clay activity for the Ohio River Valley Artist Guild’s Art Camp. Along with the guild’s other potters, we taught the children how to make masks out of clay.
I am scared of children, but at the end of a week, think I learned more than the kids. They were exhausting, but a lot of fun!
One of my favorite art shows. This small community really get it. Sponsored by Midway Renaissance, their annual art show is a pleasure to participate in. The entire community work together to support the arts. Their college provides a beautiful setting for the show, they have a show director who works all year to create an exceptional event. The community have a strong base of volunteers who go out of their way to help the artists. Even the homemakers club provide the artists with refreshments. It’s no wonder this show is ranked as one of the country’s top 10 art shows. The artists feel welcomed and appreciated, and it creates a festive vibe for everyone.
Cars were backed up for MILES to visit the little town.
Thanks, Midway for a great show. I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures…I was so busy (that’s a good thing!)
Raku At Fried Fired Pottery
After getting shows out of the way, I had a chance to visit one of my favorite potters at Fried Fired Pottery for a raku firing. It was a new experience for me, and a lot of fun…it brings out the pyromaniac in me! here’s a video to give you an idea of the process:
thanks Ann Legris (another one of my favorite potters) for shooting the video for me!
Some New Artwork
I have been painting during these busy times. Here are a few paintings that have not made it to the website yet.
2 Boats On The River
Enough For Everyone
Party At Cleo’s
Have Dog, Will Travel
More To Come!
I have a break between shows, so I am looking forward to more projects very soon!
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Ken is a self-taught artist from rural Kentucky, whose work includes painting, printmaking, and pottery. He considers himself to be a 'lifetime learner' and he uses art as the vehicle to explore and learn more about the world around him. Much of his work reflect his optimistic views on rural folk culture, river life and simple pleasures.
You can visit Ken every Final Friday of the month at studio 400 at the Pendleton Art Center in downtown Cincinnati. He can also be found picnicking near his home in the Historic Village of Old Washington, KY.