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Kentucky Arts Council

Nov. 19, 2018


Tall, Dark and Handsome (TDH)

The Kentucky Veteran Project Exhibit

The Kentucky Veteran
Project Exhibit

The Illustrated Word Exhibit

The Illustrated Word Exhibit

Kentucky Arts Council



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Chris Cathers Dear Stakeholders in the Arts,

Welcome to November! It’s an exciting month for us here at the Kentucky Arts Council. This month we opened The Kentucky Veterans Project Exhibit at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. This exhibit features the work of 42 artists who are Kentucky military veterans or veterans’ family members. At the beginning of December, the exhibit will start a one-year tour of the Commonwealth. For a slideshow of the exhibit, visit the Kentucky Arts Council website.

Registration is now open for our fifth annual Kentucky Creative Industry Summit. This year’s summit will be Friday, Nov. 30, at the Georgetown College Conference Center in Georgetown. On this year’s summit agenda are presentations on the Artists Thrive initiative, marketing, budgeting and taxes, legal issues and other topics important to artists who want to grow their creative businesses. In addition, the summit will put a spotlight on two addiction recovery programs we have supported – in Hindman and Frankfort – that are using the arts as a means of coping with substance abuse issues. The summit is sponsored in part by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

In the past two months, we have had the pleasure of visiting with organizers of two projects we provided support to. “You, Me and Rumi” was a multidisciplinary, multicultural event produced by Kentucky Arts Council Performing Artists Directory member and Kentucky Crafted artist Lakshmi Sriraman and visiting textile artist and designer Sandhya Raman. The event was at Lexington’s historic Lyric Theatre and was truly a spectacular showcase of Kentucky talent and the interweaving of art forms.

“This started in my mind with the thought, ‘what can I do with healing this great divide we have with relation to nature?’ Over time the vision has grown in a lot of ways,” Lakshmi told us. “Over time when Sandhya and I started thinking about bringing in other artists, creating a collaborative, my vision became larger. This project is about creating a template for multicultural, multidisciplinary collaborations, to come together for meaningful conversations. We hope we can institutionalize this so it’s not a one-off event. We hope to do more projects.”

Dancing Well: The Soldier Project is a Louisville-based initiative that seeks to help veterans channel their creative energy through group dance activities.

Project director Deborah Denenfeld described the dance style as the kind of old-time community or barn dancing that people have done for hundreds of years in relaxed community settings. The dances incorporate simple movements and are led by a caller so that everybody knows what to do all the time.

Participants are veterans of all branches of military service and are diverse in age, ethnicity and gender and background. Their service ranges from Vietnam to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“People love this and they’re amazed by how powerful it is. They tell me – and I’ve seen it for myself – that they can walk in the door feeling anxious, depressed, angry and within a couple of minutes of starting the community dance, they’re feeling better, relaxed, happy,” Deborah told us. “They start smiling. Those smiles last the entire evening, and they say it lasts longer after they go home. They say it’s a lifeline for them.”

United States Army veteran Darlene “Dar” Bessler, whose service from 1972-75 includes time as a medic at a military hospital in Ludwigsburg, Germany, comes to Dancing Well to recapture an element of her childhood.

“I’ve loved every minute of this,” Dar told us. “It brings out the little kid in me. When I was in grade school, I’d go to gym and do square dancing. It’s a time in my life that I was free and happy.”

U.S. Army and Navy veteran Steve Montgomery’s military career has spanned the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 to serving most recently in special operations in Afghanistan. He told us he values Dancing Well because of the group cohesion and regimentation that is prevalent in military life.

“We’re all doing the same steps. I don’t know who’s a vet or not a vet here, but we’re all here for the same mission purpose,” Steve said. “This is an independent way of establishing a connection with other people. When you have a sense of community, you don’t feel so alone when you’re dealing with your own issues.

“This is working, too,” Steve added. “It’s easier now than when I first started. When I was new here, I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, who these people are, what they’re about. Every time you come, though, it’s easier.”

We’re proud to be associated with and support these two initiatives, as well as other projects we’ll spotlight in coming months.

We hope you have safe travels for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and we hope to see you Nov. 30 for the Kentucky Creative Industry Summit in Georgetown.


Chris Cathers
Chris Cathers
Kentucky Arts Council
Interim Executive Director


Veterans Art Exhibit Open at Capitol, Will Begin Statewide Tour in December
The artwork of 41 artists, along with members of one American Legion post, has been selected for a Kentucky Arts Council exhibit that highlights the artwork of military veterans and their families.

Two Artists Added to Arts Council’s Teaching Artists Directory
Madison County media artist Tammy Clemons and Jefferson County poet Sarah McCartt-Jackson have been added to the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artists Directory, a list of artists who work with educators to design and implement quality arts education programs in Kentucky schools.

Nine New Artists Join Kentucky Crafted Program
Lakshmi Sriraman of Lexington built a career as a performer and teacher of classical Indian dancing, but in February 2017 she added another layer to her artistry when she started painting.

‘Makings of a Master’ Exhibit Visits Butler County, Features Folk Singer Sue Massek
The Kentucky Arts Council’s traveling folk and traditional arts exhibit, “Makings of a Master,” will be in Butler County through Nov. 30.


Jan. 10 - Application period opening
Teaching Artists Directory

Jan. 15 - Application deadline
Kentucky Arts Partnership

HOLIDAYS (state offices closed)

Nov. 22-23 – Thanksgiving

Dec. 24-25 – Christmas



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Arts E-News is a publication of the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, which fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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