On Friday, nearly 25 artists will be removing their brassieres for art's sake. ArtFul Bras is just one of the events making up this month's downtown Gallery Hop.
ArtFul Bras, at the Bodley-Bullock House, is the brainchild of J. Stuart Hurt.
"A friend e-mailed me an image of a quilted bra, and I thought it was hilarious," Hurt said. "The cups were decorated to look like the couple from American Gothic."
Grant Wood's iconic portrait of farmer, wife and pitchfork has inspired a lot of images over the years, but seeing them stitched into a bra got Hurt's creative juices flowing. He had been seeking a fund-raiser to tie in with the Pink Tie Gala to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the international organization to fight breast cancer.
Hurt contacted artists, friends and cancer survivors and asked each to decorate a bra for the exhibit. The Lexington Junior League contributed the venue, which serves as the group's headquarters, and will serve refreshments. The pieces include one titled Barack O-bra-ma, a decoupage tribute to the president; and another called Flying Tigress, inspired by a B-17 bomber, including working propellers and a fierce-toothed sneer painted across the "nose cones."
ArtFul Bras will be at the Bodley-Bullock House for one night only. The pieces will be auctioned at the Pink Tie Gala, on Sept. 26 at Marriott Griffin Gate Resort and Spa.
"Gallery Hop has been part of the Lexington arts scene for a long time," said Nathan Zamarron, community arts manager for LexArts, which organizes the hop. "It is one of the most visible events that we're involved with."
And the Hop is growing. LexArts is working to add venues and sponsors in anticipation of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
There are nearly 40 sites featuring everything from fine arts and woodwork to, well, decorative undergarments. Where is an art lover to begin?
Zamarron recommends that new hoppers start at ArtsPlace or the Downtown Arts Center, where LexArts staffers will be happy to steer them toward their next stops.
One great value in the free hop is being able to see several sites in one evening. Zamarron said that keeping all the venues within walking distance is an important part of the fun, but many people might find the hike from the University of Kentucky campus to the north side of town overwhelming.
One way LexArts is making that journey easier is through a partnership with LexTran. Dave Riggins, director of community affairs for LexTran, says free trolley service will be available at all regular LexTran stops along Main and Vine streets from Triangle Park to Thoroughbred Park for the duration of Gallery Hop.
"We wanted to expose the public to our trolleys and to the photo exhibit we're unveiling at the Transit Center on Friday," he said.
The LexTran exhibit, TransLucent, features the work of Lexington artists Don Ament and Mary Rezney. Their photos, themed to transportation, will be on display through February at the Transit Center, 200 East Vine Street.
Linda Hill, of Main Cross Gallery in Victorian Square, said Gallery Hop is "not always a retail bonanza," but it does bring lots of people downtown on a Friday evening. Featured at Main Cross will be Paris photographer Merle Wasson. Hill says her gallery focuses on contemporary local art and artists as a way of telling Kentucky's unique story. "When I visit a new city, if all there is to do is go out to bars and drink beer, there is no unique story, ... there is no story at all."
Clarissa Spahn is one artist exhibiting at Main Cross Gallery whose story clearly is unique to the Bluegrass. Her delicately turned bowls are crafted from tree trunks and branches reclaimed after Central Kentucky's 2003 ice storm. The turnings are large and beautifully burled.
"They weigh almost nothing," Hill said as she easily lifted one large enough to use to mix bread dough.
Jewelry maker Rachael Savané of Savané Silver calls Gallery Hop "the best advertising dollars I've ever spent."
She expects about 150 visitors to her tiny shop on Triangle Park. There, hoppers can view her jewelry and see demonstrations of the silversmith's craft. Many of her clients tell her that they first visited her shop during a Gallery Hop.