Monday, December 17, 2012

The Grinch Stole My Pen!

When visitors are asked not to use pens or take flash pictures in the galleries, they want to know why! Pens and markers can do permanent damage to a work of art, and it's easy to forget it and point with one.  Also, some  pictures can take flash, some can't; so we err on the side of caution. You can get a free pencil on our tree, though!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Cheer

Children attending our Artful Sunday in December made snowflakes for the art museum's holiday tree.  We are all sharing secret ideas for our staff gift exchange and making plans for the holidays.

Our interns work harder than Santa's elves!  Hilary Rosen comes to us from Transylvania University. She is working in the Education Department.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Little Bird Told Me

It's that time of year when people are keeping secrets and whispering about gifts and surprises. But thanks to modern technology, we can know the innermost thoughts of our outdoor sculptures! Apparently, rumor has it that our  Raven  has been tweeting with the big Uk Wildcat. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Artful Sunday

Children and their families made snowflakes for holiday decorations at Artful Sunday  on December 1.  Artful Sunday is the first Sunday of each month.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A New Preparator

We recently hired a new Preparator, Alan Rideout. Like the registrar, he works with the collection , handling art and packing it for shipping, as well as being the one who uses specialized lighting to sow it at its best. he also is a carpenter who can make crates, create pedestals and cases, install signage.

Alan is also a photographer and brings a lot of experience in framing as well. Here he is hanging a painting on our new painting racks! Welcome, Alan.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Spit? Really? The Registrar said that?

Our Registrar, Barbara Lovejoy has a great job- she gets to touch the art and live with it every day.

Most museums only have 5 to 10% of the collection on view at at time. The rest stays in the storage area. She keeps track of over 4,500 works of art and makes sure that the vault is in excellent order and the conditions are perfect for art objects. She knows the collection, where everything is at all times, and makes sure everything is put back where it belongs if it is removed from the vault.

She oversees shipping and keeping the artwork and frames in good repair. She ensures that we keep the collection for posterity, protecting it from excessive heat, light , humidity as well as form pests and dust.
Here she is examining a new gift, a painting by Alvin Fisher entitled, "Roadside meeting." Notice she wears gloves to handle the work.

Need to clean a work of art? Sometimes conservators use spit! It's a mild enzyme solution that's readily available. More secrets next time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Amy Nelson Wins Mobley Award

Amy Nelson, Our Director of Grants and Community Assets, has won the Terry Mobley award for a development professional. Amy is  an art historian and educator,and has worked a the art museum for 10 years. Congratulations,Amy,seen here with Terry Mobley and myself.!

Why are These Artworks Here?

I asked our gallery attendants, who meet the public every day, what questions people ask most often. Judith Brin said "They ask, why are these paintings in the museum to begin with?" So I asked Judith, who is also a docent, to explain.  You can see her answer here:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Art Museum Wins Design Award

The Art museum has won the Silver award for "best marketing campaign" for our materials for the exhibition See Blue: Art from the Permanent Collection., given by the Southeastern Museum Consortium.

The campaign was created by our Coordinator of Publications and Public Relations, Dorothy Freeman. Dorothy previously won the gold award for her work on Hoofbeats and Heartbeats: The Horse in American Art in 2010. We are lucky to have her on our team!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lalla Essaydi Speaks

Tomorrow, November 16th, famed photographer Lalla Essaydi will speak at UK.  A native of Morocco, her works reflect her early life where public spaces were defined by men, and women were confined to the private region of the home. By using calligraphy to cover her subjects, she breaks with convention.

Learn more at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"When I was Growing Up"

Today I met with an executive from Merrill Lynch in Lexington, Mollie Brennan. She told me that when she was growing up in Campbellsville, a small town in the Southern part of Kentucky, there were no field trips to museums.  She said that when she grew up , and went to the Louvre in Paris with her husband, she saw the Mona Lisa, but did not know anything about art, so she did not know what she was seeing. She said she wishes she had been to this museum as a child.

Our teacher outreach reaches 19 counties, and thousands of school children come here from surrounding counties. We don't have the Mona Lisa, but this painting by Bougereau is pretty nice!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Museum Geek Blogs

Here's a very interesting blog about museums from Australia:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Equipment Increases Storage Space

As our permanent collection grows through gifts and bequests, the demands on storage have increased.  Our painting rack storage capacity was full! With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, we ordered new painting racks that will fill spaces between existing racks. Here you can see the paintings being removed, new racks arriving, and the racks being installed!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Examining the New Arrival

When a painting arrives in its crate, the staff does not open it for 24 hours, giving the work time to "acclimatize."  Our registrar, Barbara Lovejoy, waited at the museum last evening for the arrival of this painting  Harvest Moon, Giverny and we could hardly wait to see it! Here she examines it, taking notes on the painting's condition.

A recent gift, this was painted by Theodore Robinson, an American Impressionist who worked with Monet in Giverny. It will be on view in January!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Intern in Marketing

I have the pleasure of introducing Meredith Cunningham.  She is learning from Lyndi Van Duersen, our Coordinator of Membership and Marketing.  Meredith has assisted with special events and promotional material planning and distribution.  She is working on social media and new marketing projects/research and assisting with membership processing. Lyndi praises her work!

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Intern

Mazie Purcell, an intern at the museum this Fall, is helping out on Monday morning. That's a busy day at the museum, with docents coming for training, the doorbell and phones ringing.  Mazie said the most interesting thing she has learned was the first day, when she helped the registrar and curator pack up an exhibition of American Indian weavings,  "Learning the techniques to protect the art work."  Her degree is in Integrated Strategic Communications, so today she will meet with our Marketing and Membership Coordinator, Lyndi Van Duersen. Thanks for being our intern, Mazie!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sculpture Family Day

Our sculpture garden has grown, and our Education Department offers wonderful Artful Sundays for families on the first  Sunday of each month. But this month we had a special Family Day just focusing on sculptures. Students made giant sculptures outside, and paper sculptures and edible sculptures inside! Thanks to all for a day full of fun!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Teachers Love to Learn

Our teachers workshops reach teachers across the state. They come on a Saturday or after  school to learn and their evaluations describe glowing successes; "the best art professional development." To date in this school year we have held 2 workshops. Teachers from 12 counties attended; they said they will reach over 12,000 students this year.  That's a big impact!

Here are some photos of the most recent workshop , on Fiber arts, with guest teacher Jennifer Reis.

Breanna White, senior at SCAPA Lafayette, interning for 2 months with Museum Education as part of the Fayette County Public Schools Experience Based Career Education (EBCE) Program  in which she’s a participant.  Breanna helped prepare for the workshop.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Behind the Scenes Tour

We invited our Art in Bloom Sponsors for a Behind the Scenes tour and were delighted at the response. Yesterday offered gorgeous weather, but still the group joined us to tour the storage area, to learn about our efforts to expand our storage, and to learn a little bit about "tricks of the trade." They saw how a painting looks before and after restoration,and how we plan exhibitions using a scale model. Our registrar, Barbara Lovejoy, who is in charge of caring for the collection, gave a tour of storage, explaining how we preserve and keep track of the over 4500 works in our permanent collection. The museum recently received a grant for $50,000 form the Institute of Museum and Library Services to purchase new storage racks and expand our capacity, as well as materials to better store works on paper.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Up, Up and Away!

With  fabric cascading from the ceiling and works featuring subjects such as meat, decay and flowers, an exhibition by the UK School of Art and Visual Studies will open tomorrow evening to our members. It was a hard show to install, but fun to look at!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Intern at Work

Our new intern, graduate student Alisa Reynolds, is working in the curatorial and education departments this year, learning the museum "trade."  Today she is helping with the installation of the Faculty exhibition, called Mettle.  She is handling a sculpture by professor Garry Bibbs.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Rainy Weekend Ahead

Rain is in the forecast- much needed, but it's Labor Day Weekend! Take the kids to the museum and tour the permanent collection using our new See More labels!  These will help you to discuss the artwork with your  little Wildcat.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our New Preparator

Our new Preparator, Mike Witzel , has arrived. He moved her from San Antonio for the job. (A preparator is expert at moving and handling works of art, lighting art, and preparing spaces and furniture for museum exhibitions.)  Here he is  on our Genie lift, which can taek himup to our very high ceiling if needed! Welcome, Mike!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Great Story: Exhibitions Touch People's Lives

Here is a story from our curator, Janie Welker:

Front from right: Alberta Thomas, Anna Mae Tanner, Despah Nez, unidentified woman, Betty Yazzie. Back row: Troy Kennedy of the Red Rock Trading Post and Vera Begay. All the women are weavers.

I had a fascinating conversation with one of our visitors on Friday evening. Evelyn Keen, who lives in Midway, is intimately related to three of the Navajo weavers in our exhibition: Alberta Thomas is her mother, Anna Mae Tanner is her aunt, and Despah Nez is her grandmother.
All three of the weavers made textiles based on sandpainting designs, which are used in sacred healing ceremonies by the Navajo. They were part of the Red Rock Weavers, named for the trading post in northeastern Arizona in the Four Corners area. Ms. Keen was thrilled to see her family’s artistry on view here.
Her story is particularly poignant as it encapsulates many of the hardships endured by the DinĂ© (Navajo) in the twentieth century. Although she was born on the Navajo reservation, where parts of her family still live, she was separated from her parents at the age of six when she was forced to attend a government boarding school. Her father worked in uranium mines and contracted cancer, which eventually killed him. Interestingly, Edwin Kennedy, the man who collected the weavings and jewelry shown in our exhibition, was an employee of Kerr McGee, the first company in the country to mine uranium—it was this work that brought him to the Southwest, where he fell in love Native American art forms. He purchased almost seven hundred textiles, many of them commissioned through trading posts.
Ms. Keen remembers her mother rising at 5 a.m. and working until dark on the very finely woven textiles that she produced. The owner of the Red Rock Trading Post, Troy Kennedy (no relation to the collector Edwin Kennedy), would tell Ms. Keen’s mother, aunt and grandmother what designs he was interested in, and they would weave them. She remembers her mother glancing at a drawing of the sandpainting as she worked. But, despite the complexity of the designs, they were woven without any pattern: her mother, grandmother, and aunt could visualize exactly how the imagery would evolve as they wove. Textiles such as the ones on view in the museum would take months of work.
None of these textiles stayed in the family. “This was food on the table,” she said. Her mother was so happy when she completed a weaving and got paid—she could buy food and settle their debt at the trading post, which operated something like a company store in a coal camp—Troy Kennedy would extend credit until Mrs. Thomas finished a weaving. The weavers were paid far less per piece than Mr. Kennedy sold them for. They were not paid very much, Ms. Keen remembers.
In Navajo families, weaving is female tradition. Ms. Keen’s grandmother (Despah Nez) taught her aunt (Anna Mae Tanner) who, in turn, taught her mother (Alberta Thomas). The Edwin Kennedy collection of sandpainting weavings is among the largest known. It includes twenty-seven weavings by Alberta Thomas, twenty-four by Anna Mae Tanner, and twenty-one by Despah Nez. The Kennedy Museum at Ohio University invited Ms. Keen’s family to come and see their work some years ago, but only her grandmother, Mrs. Nez, was still living. They brought all of her weavings out to her so she could revisit them.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Equus Run

Amy and I visited Equus Run Vineyards to meet with the owner, Cynthia Bohn, who is on the Art Museum Advisory Board. Hot day, but many good ideas!

New Gifts inspired by Current Exhibition

Janie Welker, our curator, with three Navajo weavings offered as a gift to the museum by a visitor who was a nurse at the Indian Health Service in Tuba City in 1974-75.  The weavings were purchased at that time: a Coppermine weaving, a Two Gray Hills weaving and a horse saddle blanket.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sculpture Installation Completion

The whimsical and joyous sculptures by Connecticut artist David Hayes are almost all installed. A few hanging pieces are still getting "touch up " paint by our back door. The artists sons, David from New York and John from Florida, travelled here to bring the works and install them. It's a labor of love ! The result will be enjoyed in the sculpture garden for one year. Look forward to a Sculpture Garden Family Day on October 7th!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Famous Forger Fooled Us!

In 2007, a man named Mark Landis called the museum and wanted to donate a work of art in honor of his father, who was from Lexington. He sent us the watercolor, supposedly by Paul Signac, along with a copy of the page for the Christies' catalogue when the piece was purchased.  With this verification we accepted this gift. We later accepted a painting from him as well, at a meeting in Laurel Mississippi.

Meeting with Mark Landis, 2007
Fake catalogue page

When we saw "our" Signac pictured in another museum's newsletter as a gift from him, we knew he had swindled someone.  But what was real? Our registrar Barbara Lovejoy, who has an eye for meticulous detail, has always maintained that the one he sent us was exactly like the one in the catalogue! As more stories came out and the frauds were exposed, she kept wondering. Now she has obtained an copy of the original catalogue and can see that he faked the catalogue page as well, putting a photo of his fake copy over the real Signac.  Now we are wondering where the real one is! It's always something......

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Field of Sculptures

Twenty abstract sculptures by the artist David Hayes will be on view for the next year in our sculpture garden. Davis Hayes, son of the sculptor, is  installing and painting some of the wonderful sculptures, which are both multi-colored and black and white.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Leadership Lexington Graduate

Lyndi Van Duersen is our staff person in charge of membership, marketing,and our Friends volunteer group.  She is very creative, talented and has a great personality! So she was "a natural" to represent the Art  Museum in Leadership Lexington. This nine-month program led by the Chamber of Commerce gives a good overview of all the different areas of the community - Education, Law and Justice, Equine Industry, health care, and of course, the arts! Lyndi said she really enjoyed meeting the other class members, and learned a lot about herself and her potential as a leader.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Garden Celebration!

On a beautiful evening last Saturday, guests came to see garden designer Jon Carloftis' new additions to our sculpture garden, and to hear him explain his vision and interpretation of the works. It was a lovely event!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Art Blooms Outside

The plantings by Jon Carloftis to augment and interpret our sculptures are in place, being watered, awaiting your visit! We will have a special benefit event Saturday evening to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Museum Receives $50,000 Grant

The Art Museum will have new painting racks in storage, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Institute Of Museum and Library Services.  We were in danger of running out of storage space, as President and Dr. Capilouto learned on their visit last Fall.  This will allow the museum's collection to continue to grow.  The grant will also provide updated storage for works on paper.  The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of Federal funding for the national libraries and museums. These grants are extremely competitive. In this series, only 1 in 5 was awarded.

Here the Capiloutos and our Advisory Board Chair, Mike Moran view works of art by Appalachian artist David Lucas.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Planting Has Begun!

Jon Carloftis and his team are beginning to plant around our sculptures! Each artwork will have unique plantings designed to enhance it. He's the Snake with lots of snakeplant varieties!  This process is fun to watch.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Ceiling Tiles

We are constantly striving to improve our facility, especially in terms of climate control. Extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations are a hazard for works of art. As part of this process, the University installed anew ceiling, with tiles that include a vapor barrier.  It not only improved our ability to control the climate, but also brightened up the galleries considerably! The staff moved or covered works of art to ensure their safety.