Bourbon Industry

Bourbon barrels will be canvases for new public art project

Used Oak Wine Barrel Isolated on White
Used Oak Wine Barrel Isolated on White Getty Images/iStockphoto

LexArts is inviting area artists to riff on another regional icon for a public art project this fall: bourbon barrels.

The Bourbon Barrel Project on Town Branch, as it is called, will place authentic bourbon barrels embellished by Central Kentucky artists through downtown Lexington to highlight the waterway that flows under Vine Street and Midland Avenue.

The display will be in the fall, to coincide with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown in September and the Bourbon Chase, a 200-mile race along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, in October.

LexArts has put out a call to artists seeking submissions of proposals for barrel designs. As with the Horse Mania projects in 2000 and 2010, in which fiberglass horses were embellished, design proposals will be presented to potential sponsors, who will choose designs they want to support. Each selected artist will receive a $1,200 honorarium. The deadline for submissions is June 17.

This will be the fourth public art project of this type presented by LexArts, formerly the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council, following Horse Mania and Dynamic Doors in 2003. (Another similar project, Wildcat Madness in 2001, was presented by the now-defunct University of Kentucky Basketball Museum.)

The Bourbon Barrel Project is being managed in partnership with Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. in Lexington. Alltech is donating the barrels to the project, said Maury Sparrow of LexArts. But if other distilleries want to sponsor barrels, they may supply their own with their distillery's barrelheads, he said.