The Bourbon Barrel Project on Town Branch – Lexington, KY

Unbridled by Augustine Zarate
Unbridled by Augustine Zarate (visit artist page)

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.

DSC_2437I 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.

A person looks at the artwork on a barrel in downtown Lexington
A person looks at the artwork on a barrel in downtown Lexington
"Mint Jewel Lips" by Audie Price and Jean Issacs Bramlette (see artist page)
“Mint Jewel Lips” by Audie Price and Jean Issacs Bramlette (see artist page)
"Barrel of Monkeys" by Tnia Zivkovich (see artisits page)
“Barrel of Monkeys” by Tnia Zivkovich (see artist page)
"GiddyUp" by Tess Larimore (see artist page)
“GiddyUp” by Tess Larimore (see artist page)
Alternate view of "Giddy Up"
Alternate view of “Giddy Up” with “A Kentucky Tradition”  by Barbara Harper-Bach in the background (see artist page)
"A Kentucky Tradition" by Barbara Harper-Bach (see artist page)
“A Kentucky Tradition” by Barbara Harper-Bach (see artist page)

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.

"Town Branch Progress" by Mariana McDonald (see artist page)
“Town Branch Progress” by Mariana McDonald (see artist page)

Mariana McDonald is a Lexington artist that dos pastel and oil landscape scenes.  This barrel is a true “reflection” of her work.

"Blazing the Bourbon Trail" by Dean Southworth (see artist page)
“Blazing the Bourbon Trail” by Dean Southworth (see artist page)
Alternative view of "Blazing the Bourbon Trail"
Alternative view of “Blazing the Bourbon Trail”
"Big Black" by De Selby (see artist page)
“Big Black” by De Selby (see artist page)

Dianne Vincent (De) Selby is a well established Lexington artist.  The focus of this piece is corn for bourbon and chickens for corn.

Portion of "Big Black" corn cob work
Portion of “Big Black” corn cob work
"Kentucky Roots" by Wade Christensen (see artisit page)
“Kentucky Roots” by Wade W. Christensen (see artist page)

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.

"Kentucky on Fire" by Cynthia Arnold (see artist page)
“Kentucky on Fire” by Cynthia Arnold (see artist page)
"Barrel House Distillery" by Neil Sulier (see artist page)
“Barrel House Distillery” by Neil Sulier (see artist page)

The “Barrel House Distillery” piece was painted by local Lexington artist/photographer Neil Sulier. He also does Wedding Reception paintings, which is something quite unique.

"The Wellspring of Champions" by Phil May (see artist page)
“The Wellspring of Champions” by Phil May (see artist page)

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).

"As the Bourbon Flows" by Melody Farris Jackson (see artist page)
“As the Bourbon Flows” by Melody Farris Jackson (see artist page)

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.

"Town Branch Trail: Connecting the Past to the Future" by Lydia Underwood (see artist page)
“Town Branch Trail: Connecting the Past to the Future” by Lydia Underwood (see artist page)
"Colonel Pepper's Legacy" by Sarah Cobb Spradlin (see artist page)
“Colonel Pepper’s Legacy” by Sarah Cobb Spradlin (see artist page)
"On Manchester Street" by Cheryl Komis (see artist page)
“On Manchester Street” by Cheryl Komis (see artist page)
"Angel's Share" by Christine Kuhn (see artist page)
“Angel’s Share” by Christine Kuhn (see artist page)

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.

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Sumoflam

Travelographer Extraordinaire. I Enjoy the Ride by traveling and seeing the world around me. We are so busy speeding down the freeways of life that we miss out on the back roads and all the wonderful little stories that every place offers. So, I try to take the less beaten paths and see the real world. I have visited all 50 United States and many provinces in Canada, nearly all prefectures in Japan as well as Seaul, Korea, Shanghai and Suzhou, China and Cenu, Philippines. Also been to Mexico. Father of five, grandfather of 10 and happily married to my sweetheart for nearly 38 years. Fluent in Japanese. Happy and well traveled. See details at http://www.sumoflam.biz/SumoflamBio.htm

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