Kentuck is an annual event that I adore to the Nth degree. My first experience with the festival was when I was in grad school at the University of Alabama. Since meeting my friend, Sandra, here in Chicago and discovering that (a) she grew up in Tuscaloosa/Northport, and (b) that we were in school in the same program nine years apart and therefore know many of the same people, it seemed fate that I should schedule this annual return to Alabama. In another twist, her dearest friend from high school, S.A., who has since become one of my closest friends, is now the Executive Director of Kentuck. Life...a funny thing.
The beauty of Kentuck is that it allows people to meet the artists and collect art at fairly reasonable prices. (Reasonable is relative; there are things there for a few dollars and things that range into the many thousands. The nice thing is that you are purchasing directly from the artist without the filter of a gallery or agent.)
I adore having "real" art in my life. An actual painting is so much more thrilling to me than a print. And, while the art I select may not be the art you or someone else would choose (including the dear husband who tolerates some things he does not like in the least), it means something special to me. (Well, there are those questionable purchases, and I make at least one every year. The good thing is that I still love all of the "larger" acquisitions I have made.)
The festival is held outside in a local park, and the weather is generally warm and gorgeous. (S.A. lives in fear of the years when it is not, and there have been a few. A festival or two ago, it rained hard overnight, and they had backhoes in the park distributing mulch and digging trenches to direct the water flow. That wasn't so much fun, especially for her.) This year the weather was perfect.
There has been a consistent group of artists who are there every year, but this year, at the time when artists were being selected (it is a juried show), gas prices were at their highest. This was unfortunate for some artists who chose not to make the trip, but it resulted in a lot of new faces who hadn't been there before. It added a fresh dimension to the festival, and it was incredibly exciting for me. There were also many reliable favorites and it was great to talk with some of them again, and it was thrilling to see how some of them have evolved their work.
Several of the artists displayed their political views, primarily pro-Obama. Peter Loose had a big bag of "Obama Yes" buttons that he handed out. Some artists were equal-opportunity. Yee-Haw skewered both sides with their "wrestling-ticket" posters that were quite clever and Mike Hanning (scroll to bottom of link for a pic of Mike) had both McCain and Obama depicted on clay face jugs.
Each year I select an artist from whom I will make my first purchase the following year. Last year I didn't actually make a pick which turned out to be fine since there were so many surprises. Next year, I aspire to get a large face jug from Tim Flinn, whose work is incredibly unique and has great detail.
A Velvet Ant on the Kentuck grounds