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Local Muse program helps Louisville artists exhibit work at events like St. James Court Art Show

Courtesy St. James Court Art Show

The 66th annual St. James Court Art Show kicked off Friday in the city’s historic Old Louisville neighborhood. The juried art and crafts show features more than 600 makers from across North America.

Darrenn E. Canton is one of the artists with a booth at the show this weekend. 

The Louisville illustrator, whose work focuses on fantasy and children’s art, said getting to showcase his creations at an event like St. James is a big deal.

“It's difficult for me to put into words,” he told WFPL News. “I actually live kind of close to St. James, so I attend every year. And it never really crossed my mind that I would be able to exhibit at the show.”

Participating in art fairs isn’t cheap. There are often fees involved, plus equipment like tents and tables. Artists can’t be sure they’ll make that money back. But a new program from the nonprofit Louisville Visual Art, called Local Muse, has eliminated that financial stress for Canton.

“The financial burden is huge,” said Canton, adding that the expense of participation can easily reach four figures.

“So a program like this is huge for somebody who's just breaking out and would like to be able to show their work to a wider audience, but may not have the financial resources or the equipment to make that sort of thing possible,” he said.

Through Local Muse, Louisville Visual Art is covering costs for about 30 artists to take part in different art fairs throughout the year, according to Desmone Stepp, LVA’s outreach coordinator.

“Having something like this allows [for] that risk factor to literally just be gone,” Stepp said. “They don’t have to think about that at all, and they're able to just experience it and learn without the cost.”

Art fairs are critical opportunities for artists to network, get eyes on their art and sell their work, Stepp said.

“Also, being able to witness really beautiful fine art outside of the norm gallery sense… being able to come into a big show that’s outside where there’s bunches of people and so much different art is very, very important,” she continued. 

Local Muse is funded by Metro Louisville and LVA, according to an LVA spokesperson.

St. James Court Art Show executive director Howard Rosenberg estimated about a third of this year’s artists are new to the event, and more than 100 participating artists are from Kentucky.

For him, he’s always loved the pairing of art and the neighborhood’s historic architecture.

“It's just a great opportunity to look at different types of art, the craftsmanship that goes into making a piece and the ability to interact in a real-time basis with the artist as you browse through the show,” Rosenberg said.

Other highlights of the weekend include Fund for the Arts’ Local Performance Village, featuring appearances by Louisville-area performing arts groups like Kentucky Shakespeare, River Lotus Lion Dance, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Faith Works Studios and Flamenco Louisville

The full Local Performance Village lineup and schedule can be found here

There will also be special programming to celebrate the legacy of Black artists in Louisville and their contributions to the art world. 

According to the St. James Court Art Show website, Sarah Battle of the National Gallery of Art partnered with Fari Nzinga and Toya Northington from the Speed Museum on the lecture series. It will feature panelists like William M. Duffy, Ed Hamilton, Robert Douglas, Sandra Charles, Tomisha Lovely-Allen, Ton’nea Green and Ramona Dallum Lindsey.

The lecture series will preview a larger oral history project Battle has been working on, according to LEO Weekly.

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