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Exhibition at Revelry Gallery shows Derby beyond the horse race

An oil painting of jockeys on horses during a race
Susan Howe
Susan Howe's "Turf" is an oil painting on canvas that's part of this year's exhibition.

The annualWin, Place, Art Show” at Revelry Boutique Gallery portrays the Kentucky Derby and its surrounding festivities through various lenses.

Since 2013, Revelry Gallery in NuLu has staged a show centered around the most exciting two minutes in sports: the Kentucky Derby.

As the show’s name hints, visitors will be able to vote on their favorite paintings to win, place or show. The prize for getting among the highest votes? Bragging rights.

Jacob Grant, Revelry’s visual director, said the pieces in the show don’t have to speak to the race itself.

This year's exhibition centers around the vibrance of the Derby and the Kentucky Derby Festival.

“It was the idea of using rhythm and motion in a way to talk about the vivaciousness of the event, the festival,” said Grant.

Other than the basic throughline, Grant said participating artists are given a lot of control over what their work will feature.

“A lot of our artists take a lot of liberty within their pieces. And they become expressions of their own positions,” Grant said.

Past shows featured work focused on the ethics of horse racing, the treatment of backside workers and the class contrast seen in Millionaire’s Row versus the rest of of Churchill Downs.

Louisville-born and raised artist Brochevski is one of the 13 artists featured in this year's exhibition. His piece “Belated Ballooning” is about the annual Great Balloon Race.

Photo of an artwork called "Belated Ballooning," depicting hot air balloons
"Belated Ballooning" will be on display in the 2024 "Win, Place, Art Show."

“Belated Ballooning” shows a hot air balloon taking off, while in the distance other balloons are already aloft and are far ahead of the newcomer. The balloons are made of currency, a signature of Brochevski’s work.

The event was one of his favorites growing up, he said. He has interwoven personal experiences into his work as well.

“My father was incarcerated for 21 years of my life. And he was just released two years ago,” Brochevski explained.

He said spending two decades imprisoned can make someone feel like they have a lot of catching up to do.

“Once you're out in the free world, you get a feeling of, ‘Wow, I'm so behind in life. All of my friends have houses and they have nice credit scores and have a family that they've built,’” Brochevski said. “It takes time to build those things. Everyone else is already ahead in the race, and now you're trying to catch up.”

Even in the small details, Brochevski has hidden meaning.

“For instance, there's a little patch-up in the balloon. And that's basically saying we were sabotaged in the race, but we're still going to patch it up ourselves,” he explained. “We're going to get back out there, we're going to, we're going to keep pushing hard.”

A watercolor painting of a race horse with a jockey running at Churchill Downs
Humberto Lahera
"Fast Dust" by Humberto Lahera is a watercolor painting in this year's exhibition.

While Brochevski used an event from the Kentucky Derby Festival, other participating artists chose to capture moments from the race itself.

Humberto Lahera's piece “Fast Dust” combines his Cuban identity with the culture of Louisville and the Kentucky Derby.

“The culture and art of Louisville have influenced my work, creating a fusion of two cultures within myself,” Lahera told LPM News in an email. “I am motivated to explore the psychology of the jockey, the movement of the horse, and the excitement of the race itself.”

Lahera’s used brush strokes to create movement in the piece. He said it was important to showcase the thrill of the race.

“My focus is on capturing everything from speed to victory, representing all the visual effects of the race with as much dynamism as possible,” Lahera said.

Grant and other exhibition organizers see “Win, Place, Art Show” as an opportunity to give Derby tourists a different view of the event.

“The whole exhibition works as a way to bring those people in and give them kind of a taste of what we're like,” Grant said.

“Win Place Art Show” will be on display at Revelry Boutique Gallery from April 5 through May 6.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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