By David Schuster

April 28, 2010

Art: Horse crazy

A Derby roundup

Giddy up, folks. It’s that time of year when we can’t seem to get enough of all things Derby. Artists are no exception, so here’s a list of some of the exhibitions and events around town.

David Schuster is Louisville born and bred, so it’s interesting he didn’t start painting “the greatest two minutes in sports” until the last few years. His show, “Juxtapositions: Exploration of the Equine Form,” continues through June 4 at the Gallery at The Brown (Fourth and Broadway, 583-1234, www.brownhotel.com) and features his latest take on this time-honored subject.

“Visually, the human eye is drawn to dynamic contrasts,” Schuster says. “My new series focuses on the equine form — primarily the thoroughbred, exploring contrasting dualities such as power and grace, strength and frailty, man and animal … The collection communicates the energy, atmosphere and emotion that reveal a truth about the nature of these majestic animals.”

The Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center (1860 Mellwood Ave., 895-3650, www.mellwoodartcenter.com) presents an unusual take on Derby. “And They’re Off!” is a two-person exhibition on display through May 15. Susanna Crum and Lindsay Warren are intrigued by how the city transforms itself for the race. Crum was influenced by photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s horse motion studies when she created her pedal-powered image machine.

Co-curator Jane Ferebee explains that Warren’s “love of these athletes, and the associated feelings concerning the spectacle, is sincerely apparent in her installation of a bed of roses draped over a thoroughbred that is not there … I always think of Eight Belles when I open that space to light the installation.”

“Off to the Races!” features new work by Robert Halliday at Leslie Spetz Custom Framing and Gallery (2400-C Lime Kiln Lane, 426-8880) through the end of May. This year, he’s designed the new Derby print “Always in the Money.”

“Looking behind the scenes has always fascinated me,” Halliday says, “so some of my works feature mundane moments before the action — the roar of the crowd and the thunder of hooves as they come to the finish line often pushes my work into a different mode of art making where the energy of these magic moments are converted into the energy of the painting.”

The Christy Zurkuhlen Gallery, which just moved around the corner from where it used to be (4820 Brownsboro Center, 777-1794), has an exhibition that summarizes the first Saturday in May: “Everything Derby,” including Audrey Schultz, Lloyd Kelly and Craig Kaviar, runs through May 16. The artists are donating a portion of their sales to the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs.

VONFIRE Gallery at Glassworks (815 W. Market St., 584-4510, www.louisvilleglassworks.com) is showing “Run for the Roses: Kentucky Derby Traditions in Glass” through May 30. All the Derby components are here: roses, hats, horses — all created in glass. Many local artists are included, such as Rhonda Snyder, Jonathon Capps and Leah Friedberg.

Of course it’s not Derby without the obligatory hat, and there are a lot of places in town to find them. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (715 W. Main St., 589-0102, www.kentuckyarts.org) takes the fashion aspect of Derby a little further with handmade purses, ties and hats for both women and men.

For a fashion history lesson, go to the Conrad-Caldwell House (1402 St. James Ct., 636-5023, www.conradcaldwell.org) for “Derby Fashion Through the Ages,” organized by costume designer Louise Cecil (through May 31).

The first Annmarie Art Breakfast, named in honor of deceased artist Annmarie Campbell, is at Electric Blue (835 E. Main St., 584-2265) from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Saturday. It’s a benefit for Art Sanctuary and Murray State University art students. The $25 tickets are available at Quest Outdoors (2330 Frankfort Ave., 893-5746, www.questoutdoors.com) or online at www.aspectx.com.

The April 30 F.A.T. Friday is the “Derby Hop,” with Derby-themed art and activities throughout the area. Go to www.fatfridayhop.org for a list of events.

And finally, the Kentucky Derby Museum (704 Central Ave., 637-1111, www.derbymuseum.org) has reopened after needed repairs from flood damage. It wouldn’t be a proper Derby without it.