Monday, May 12, 2014

Songs of the Fifty States: Kentucky!

(What is "The Songs of the Fifty States"?)

Haitian-born, raised in France, and ultimately to live in Britain before
settling in New York, Audubon did however live in Kentucky from 1807 to
1821.  That's presumably where he met these Kentucky warblers.


Size: 104,659 km2 (37th)

2013 Population: 4,395,295 (26th)

Statehood: 1792 (15th).

American Human Development Index (2010): 4.02 (47th)

Art Mecca: If Kentucky has a vibrant arts establishment, it's doing a pretty good job of hiding its light under a bushel.  Of the states surveyed so far, I am afraid I must award Kentucky the distinction of "least artsy." [Although, see comments.]

There is a Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, which is cool, but as the "and Craft" would suggest, not probably an "art mecca" in the IAT sense.  Founded in 1981 as an arts-education institution -- "The Museum's educational programs are tightly connected to the [Kentucky Education Reform Act] goals of combining art education with other subjects such as history, social studies, mathematics and language arts" -- it seems unlikely that "K-Mac" has the longevity, budget, or mission statement to accumulate the kind of collection that would make the discerning art history buff stand up and salute.  I will let its Collections page speak for itself.

Therefore, the distinction of Kentucky Art Mecca goes to the pragmatically named "The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky," which is at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington.  As a university art museum outside of New England, it is not exactly the Louvre, but then it's not supposed to be.  Its collection appears to combine lesser works of well-known modern painters, works by relatives of old masters, and plenty of excellent pieces of art by people we've never heard of.  It is more than possible to assemble an excellent collection this way, and it looks like the Wildcats have done exactly that.  The current slate of grad-student curated special exhibits looks pretty slick.  Next time I'm in Kentucky, I'm wanting to see TAMatUoK!

Michael 5000's Kentucky

First Visited: May 24th, 1994 (21st)
Most Recently Visited: May 25th, 1994 (50th)

First Run In: n/a
Best Run: n/a

Have Admired the Visual Arts In: No.
Have Geohashed In: No.
Have Slept Overnight In: Yes.

Counties Visited: 6/120 (tied for 42nd)
% Complete: 5% (49th)

Mrs. 5000's Counties Visited: 11/120 (tied for 34th)
% Complete: 9.2% (48th)
Mrs.5000 First Visited: Unknown
Mrs.5000 Most Recently Visited: Unknown 

Atlas of All Roads Travelled

Plans and Aspirations

Kentucky is the state it has been the longest since I've visited, my second least-complete state county-wise, and wins special honors as my Most Superficially Experienced State. All I really remember are the cute bats in Mammoth Cave, and a rainy stretch of interstate.  This makes me kind of want to get back to Kentucky sometime on roadtrip, and maybe see the university art museum or something.


Christine M. said...

Missed a spot. Or two:

Speed Museum, Louisville. It's currently closed for renovation, but it has a respectable collection of world art.

21c Museum Hotel, Louisville. Excellent contemporary art museum, AND you can sleep there.

Louisville has a very active art scene.

Michael5000 said...

Yes, I certainly did!! "The Speed Art Museum... is the oldest, largest, and foremost museum of art in Kentucky."

How did I miss that? Well, it's a bit shy on the ol' search engine, for one thing. Also, although it was on a few lists of Kentucky Museums I looked at, I think I may have preconciously dismissed it because of its name. A "speed" art museum doesn't sound very serious, you know. If they renamed it the Kentucky Lingering Museum of Art, that would be better.