In September 2013 the downtown streets of Lexington were littered with 41 whiskey barrels…colorfully painted ones to be exact. The LexArts Organization introduced this unique public art event entitled “The Bourbon Barrel Project on Town Branch” which celebrated not only the history and lore of Kentucky’s bourbon, but also the chronicle of a long-buried stream that was a formative basis of historic Lexington, the Town Branch. Alltech, Inc. recently opened a new Bourbon Distillery in Lexington called Town Branch Bourbon, and the charred, white oak barrels used in these displays come from this new distillery.
I had the opportunity one morning to drive around downtown Lexington and grab shots of a number of these barrels, trying to get them in the setting of the city more than the straight artwork. Following is what I found, mingled with some history, a few comments on those I liked and some comments and links to many of the artists. Like many of the other LexArts Projects, there were a variety of artists involved in this program and I have included links wherever applicable.
I really got a kick out of the GiddyUp barrel, which I thought was one of the more original designs and mixed the Bourbon history with the Horse history of the area, but with a bit of whimsy. You can see a nice post about Tess Larimore’s work on this project here. She also has a business in Lexington “The Decorator Warehouse” where she provides a spot for unique artistic home furnishings to be displayed and sold.
Mariana McDonald is a Lexington artist that dos pastel and oil landscape scenes. This barrel is a true “reflection” of her work.
Dianne Vincent (De) Selby is a well established Lexington artist. The focus of this piece is corn for bourbon and chickens for corn.
I enjoyed this piece as it was unique among the many barrels. Wade W. Christensen III is another Lexington artist who works in metal and is also a photographer.
Phil May is a painter and mural artist from Winchester, Kentucky. Not only had he completed the art on this barrel, but he recently completed a series of murals on Depot St. in Winchester. In 2010 he was one of dozens of artists to participate in the Horse Mania horse art project as well (see his piece here).
Melody Farris Jackson is both an architect and an artist residing in Winchester, KY. She was the Art Director for the 2010 World Equestrian Games and has mixed design and art for some unique views of horses and other themes.
Ultimately 31 of the barrels were auctioned off on Nov. 16, 2013. Like other similar events in Lexington (HorseMania in 2010) or elsewhere (Enchanted Arboretum in Nebraska City – also see my photos of same), they are a means for keeping the arts alive and raising funds to do so. I for one appreciate the time and effort put forth by the artists to bring this unique art works to the public.