The sign may not define everyone who walks through the door: “Welcome Morning People.”
But it is a sign that greets a full house at the Atrium of The Square on Friday morning, and it has greeted full houses around Lexington once a month for the past two years.
Creative Mornings is a global “breakfast and lecture series for the creative community” that has chapters as far flung as London and Singapore and in communities as small as, for the past two years, Lexington.
“It’s mainly to light a spark, a spark of inspiration,” says Celeste Lewis, director of the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center and one of the co-founders of Creative Mornings in Lexington.
The event moves around town to venues such as the Kentucky Theatre, the atrium at The Square, the Singletary Center for the Arts, Fifth-Third Pavilion and even L’Escalade Climbing Gym. The events feature a catered breakfast by a local eatery and an approximately half-hour talk by either local or visiting creatives.
Recent speakers have included Chef Ouita Michel, author Crystal Wilkinson, poet Frank X Walker and, in October, Spencer Reinhard, the artist who was involved in the Transylvania University rare book heist in 2004, recently featured in the movie “American Animals.”
Attendees at that Kentucky Theatre talk, conducted around the same time Reinhard was completing a mural for the PRHBTN street art festival, learned about things like the time-consuming process he used to create art in prison when he was incarcerated and the life-changing impact of learning to speak Spanish.
November’s attendees heard from DV8 Kitchen owner Rob Perez as he told the story of how he was persuaded to open a business to employ people recovering from addiction, while enjoying food provided by the North Broadway restaurant.
“There is such a variety of speakers, it’s great to hear what they have to say,” says Claire Carpenter who, in her 70s, describes herself as “not the typical person who comes to this.”
Lewis says that with audiences ranging from the early teens to the 70s, Lexington’s Creative Mornings crew enjoys a a fairly diverse group of participants compared to some other areas where attendees are concentrated in their 20s to 40s. She says the Lexington chapter had to do some convincing to let the city join the Creative Mornings network, as the organization prefers cities of at least 500,000 people or more. The 2017 U.S. Census estimate put Lexington at 321,959.
“Having lived a lot of places, Lexington is one of the most creative towns I have lived in,” Lewis says. “They also told us, ‘When you start, don’t be disappointed if only a few dozen people show up, but we had a full house from the beginning.”
Attendees sign up at the Creative Mornings website, creativemornings.com/cities/lex. After registering, members of the group get an email the Monday before each month’s talk giving the speaker, location and theme, which is a global theme. Then they can sign up for the talks, which are usually given to full houses.
November attendee Smitha Chopra said she appreciated some of the speakers who were from outside the traditional definition of “creative,” like Django Kroner of The Canopy Crew at Red River Gorge.
“I love Red River Gorge and his life story was outstanding,” she said.
And that’s the sort of vibe the Creative Mornings leaders want to maintain.
“We want to keep bringing people that you come, you get this amazing talk, and you wank away inspired,” says organizer Jamie Rodgers.
Organizer Jason Majewski says, “We want to keep this whole community on its toes. We never want to get stale. So we’re looking at new and different speakers, new and different venues, and I think we have a lot of exciting things in the works.”
IF YOU GO
Creative Mornings Lexington
What: Monthly breakfast and talk with guest speakers at varying locations around Lexington.
When: 8: 30 a.m. one Friday a month
Sign up: creativemornings.com/cities/lex