The year in review

Recaps, best-of lists, predictions … what would the last publication of the year be without them? (Given the post-holiday hangovers, fatigue and depression, there probably wouldn’t be a last issue of the year without them). So, here we go, LEO’s 2014 year in review — a peek ahead at what we’re looking forward to in 2015 — from the worlds of art, music, politics, sports, booze and news.



One ‘Rooster’ Remains
These days, the Commonwealth of Kentucky does three things better than anyone else: bourbon, horses and crazy politics … and basketball … and bats. OK, we do five things better than anyone else.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than Aqua Buddha and Rand Paul, here come Bevin, Grimes and McConnell — affectionately known to LEO as “Cock-a-toodle-doo,” “Hopeless” and “Hollow” (insert hysterically-laughing monkey emoticon face).
This was the year Senior Senator Mitch McConnell was supposed to face the greatest challenge of his life. Leader of the Senate minority Republicans, he faced the mountainous challenge of leading a national slate of Republican candidates in hopes of wresting the Senate majority back from Democrats after eight years, as well as giving the Heisman to challengers from both his left and right.

Matt Bevin, a rookie to politics, surged in popularity as a Tea Party challenger, poised to give McConnell a good race to the right. Stephen Colbert said this was going to be McConnell’s closest race since the time he beat that hare (turtle joke … not an Alison joke).

As Glenn Beck described Bevin, “I believe that man was called of God … Let me tell you something: Mitch McConnell is as big of a danger to this country as Barack Obama is. The progressive disease is in both parties. Big government is a philosophy in both parties, period.”

If McConnell being called “progressive” is not crazy enough, Bevin’s bid to become Kentucky’s true conservative was derailed at a cockfighting rally. When asked directly whether he would support the legalization of cockfighting in Kentucky, Bevin responded, “I support the people of Kentucky exercising their right because it is our right to decide what it is we want to do and not the federal government’s. Criminalizing behavior, if it’s part of the heritage of this state, is in my opinion a bad idea.”

With 60 percent of Republicans pulling McConnell through the primary, he still suffered from approval ratings rivaling the President; surely the young, ambitious challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, would usher in a new era of Kentucky politics. Alas, even the A-list coattails of former President Bill, and future President Hillary Clinton, were not enough to realize this fairytale new beginning.
Speaking of scripts, the courageous Grimes never left hers. She fought for coal and dissed the leader of her party, President Obama, every chance she got; she would not support Obamacare, or Kynnect (or the Affordable Care Act … or whatever you call it) and she would not even tell us which presidential candidate she voted for.

In the end, the Democrats’ last hope to defeat McConnell shunned the candidate of hope and turned out to be hopeless.
Congratulations, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Now that you got it, what you gonna do with it?

2015 Highlight: Hey, it is campaign season again. There will be no Mitch, no cockfighting, no President Obama. However, this is a year for state politics. And as one state senator told LEO when asked how crazy Frankfort is, “It is so much worse than you could imagine,” there will undoubtedly be some hilarious, frustrating, kooky candidates.



Visually Speaking
From internationally known artists coming to town to important local shows, 2014 had a lot to offer art junkies. The art moved around a bit, with the Tim Faulkner Gallery relocating to Portland and the continued resurgence of the Fourth and Chestnut area with the arrival of CRAFT(s), Block Party Handmade Boutique and a branch of Regalo.

Oprah says we should be practicing gratitude, so what are we grateful for in our local art scene (in no particular order)? U of L and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft joined forces on a symposium and exhibition about architect Eero Saarinen that was curated by Saarinen expert Mina Marefat. For the starstruck and film buffs, George Hurrell’s classic Hollywood portraits at the Paul Paletti Gallery. The contemporary artists the IdeaFestival brings in, usually in cooperation with 21c Museum, because anything 21c does is worth seeing and discussing.

The Louisville Visual Art Association/U of L’s Open Studio Weekend. “Art of the Streets: The French Poster, 1880-1930” at the Speed Art Museum/Local Speed. The Frazier History Museum’s period shows, such as “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Art, Fashion & Luxury in the Gilded Age” and “The Eye of Napoleon.” “En el Espiritu de Frida,” Swanson Contemporary’s homage to Frida Kahlo. John Nation’s photographs at galerie hertz.

U of L is the beneficiary of the “International Honor Quilt,” inspired by feminist artist Judy Chicago and her famous work “The Dinner Party.” The Quilt will have its own space and research facility, the Center for Art and Change, in the Hite Art Institute.
“The Untold Tale of Bob Lockhart: A Retrospective” was a feat, as it was held in three separate locations (McGrath Gallery, Cressman Center and PUBLIC Gallery). That many exhibitions at the same time is practically unheard of.

One of our favorite art moments in 2014 was not a show, artist or work. It was asking “What Does Louisville’s Visual Art Community Want?” for our annual Arts and Entertainment issue. The responses, more than we could ever get in one issue, were positive, affirming and illuminating.

2015 Highlight: Expectations for historic and contemporary decorative arts are on high alert with two exhibitions opening in March, “Teatime Chic: Ceramics, 1900-1960” at Local Speed and “African American Quilts and Fabric Arts in Kentucky” at U of L.


Hometown Hero, National Celebrity
The national foodie scene may be fixated on bourbon but Louisville turned its attention — in a big way — to beer in 2014. To bourbon’s one LEO cover, beer garnered three, including a September issue featuring the Fehr Bear, mascot of Louisville’s former Fehr brewery and an excerpt from Kevin Gibson’s “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft,” in which Gibson details the city’s history as a post-prohibition brewing mecca. The beer mecca days just may be returning. Joining BBC, Against the Grain, Falls City II, New Albanian Brewing and Apocalypse Brew Works, new breweries opened in 2014: Great Flood Brewing on Bardstown Road and Red Yeti in Jeffersonville. John Wurth organized another intoxicating Louisville Craft Beer Week (sponsored by and Craft House opened on Frankfort Avenue with its forty-plus local and region craft beers on tap, offering beer lovers deliciousness ranging from Jalapeño Smoked Porter to Watermelon Crack. Cheers to our national celebrity and our hometown hero … and to bourbon boilermakers!

2015 Highlight: More breweries! Akasha in NuLu, Beer Engine in the old Zeppelin Café and Donum Dei in New Albany all plan to open in 2015 with rumors of a new brewery across the street from 610 Magnolia and still hopes of Bannerman Brewing opening in Clifton.


A Year of Pride and Prejudice
2014 served as quite the milestone year for the LGBT community in Louisville, but we still have several small mountains and hills left to climb — namely equality. From countless fundraisers to community involvement by way of peaceful protests, it’s obvious that we’re ready to tackle 2015 together. To make sure we start the New Year off on the right foot let’s recap some of the highs and lows of the past year.

One of the most poignant moments of the year is still fresh in all our minds, and one that we’ve covered in depth prior. When Crescent Hill Baptist Church was ousted from the Kentucky Baptist Convention Nov. 11 due to their support of same-sex marriages and acceptance of gay members, there was an audible sigh heard around the city. That same sigh was heard around the state when the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court upheld the ban on same-sex marriage, and it was then matched with thunderous applause when the ruling was successfully appealed to the Supreme Court.

The LGBT community in the Louisville area continues to grow year after year, and it shows no signs of stopping any time soon. More gay and gay-friendly bars have opened in the last few years than we’ve seen in decades. This year was no exception, with local favorites like Play Louisville celebrating their one-year anniversary and Pride opening the doors to the first gay bar in the New Albany area. The Louisville LGBT Society celebrated their four-year anniversary, while word on the street is that Highlands Pridefest is taking things to the next level after a successful second year.

2015 Highlight: Jan. 9 (the earliest that the Supreme Court could decide to add same-sex marriage to their calendar this term). If added to the calendar this term, the issue could be argued and decided by late June. Here’s to hoping that we continue to move in the right direction in 2015, and in doing so have several fabulous gay weddings to attend.



Jocks and Jockeys
With the last two national champions poised to keep the trophy in the Commonwealth, Louisville and Kentucky’s mens basketball teams unfortunately ended a game or two short in the 2014 tournament. Perhaps it was the practical jokers pairing the two against each other in the Sweet 16 — the “luck of the draw” — that hampered a dream-come-true conclusion.

While UK’s 2014 began with demoralized fans and few expectations for the once “perfect team,” something happened when the calendar flipped to March. Going to the whip, head Coach John Calipari somehow turned a season of epic disappointment into an all-time run to the Championship game — a mere couple of minutes from the second national title in three years.

And although they were beaten by a nose, they did defeat their arch rival — and defending champion — U of L Cards along the way, which UK fans, deep in their hearts, will admit was their title game.

So it only seemed appropriate that the nation tuned in this Saturday to watch the two heavyweights battle it out once more. While Cat fans were nervous bearing the pressure of being the top-ranked team in the country, Louisville fans were optimistic despite the underdog role. And true to form, neither team disappointed. For the two most physical, dominant defenses in the country it was 40 minutes of brutal basketball. And unlike the last minute heroics from the meeting back in March, Kentucky made the plays down the stretch to pull away and remain undefeated.

2014 also celebrated the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. Completing the seventh score of the old Kentucky tradition was the crowning of favorite California Chrome. California Chrome went on to win the Preakness, and had a clear path to the Triple Crown before the Belmont’s grueling homestretch proved too much. The only thing more disappointing than the continuation of the 36-year-old Triple Crown drought, was the 15-minute admiration for his owners, turning villains in defeat.

The sun shines bright in Kentucky, but skies remain gloomy in New York.

Somewhere in between the basketball madness and the mint juleps, Louisville hosted the world’s best golfers for an outing at Valhalla. The third time hosting the PGA Championship, this was Louisville’s first since Tiger Woods won in 2000. LEO friend John Ziegler returned to town to welcome Tiger in a way only he can — predicting the demise of a man he once called “God,” and the crowning of golf’s new prophet, Rory McIlroy.

The prophecy turned out to be true. In what felt like Michael Jordan’s return with the Wizards, capturing the dreams of the man we once knew, Tiger returned a shell of himself, leaving the massive, rain-soaked fans disappointed. But not all was lost, as this generation’s Tiger sat in the vacant throne and amazed us in ways only Tiger once could. Rory McIlroy won his fourth major championship and second PGA, holding off superstars and fan favorites, Phil Mickelson and Ricky Fowler.

And while the old Almighty kicked, screamed and sent lightning bolts around Valhalla, the new King was crowned amid flashes that lit the darkness.

2015 Highlight: The sun will shine bright on the first Saturday in May. The world will come to Louisville to sing My Old Kentucky Home, shed a tear, and hope we might find the next Triple Crown winner. And maybe, just maybe, Louisville basketball fans will get the rematch they want so badly, just one weekend later this time, in the 2015 Final Four.


Sounds of the City
The sign of a healthy music scene is constant growth. New bands, fresh ideas, veterans challenging themselves and patrons showing up, buying shit, etc. — all things that are integral to keeping the momentum in the right direction, all things that, for the most part, happened in Louisville in 2014. The highlights are too many to make any sort of sense out of, but really cool concepts, places and events that were initially successful and have unlimited potential emerged this year — The Louisville Outskirts Festival, The Louisville Music Panel and the enormous stage space at the new Tim Faulkner Gallery all come to mind — as well as veteran players continuing to move forward — Outcast, Jack White and Beck, among many others, made Forecastle one of the best festival lineups in the country, while WFPL’s Live Lunches, Waterfront Wednesdays and Winter Wednesdays continued to make great music extremely accessible. In terms of the the local music output, our space here is limited, so when you get the chance, flip over to the music section, where we dive into our favorite local songs of the year, reviewing 15 tracks from 15 different artists.

2015 Highlight: New material from Houndmouth, My Morning Jacket and Maiden Radio, plus the surprises.