Arts on the Green Showcases Fine Art, Food Trucks, Live Entertainment and More
Writer / Helen E. McKinney
When organizers began Arts on the Green (AOG) in 1999, they had no idea how the juried arts and crafts festival would grow into an amazing two-day event featuring the best local, regional and national artists to be found. What they did know was that they had an incredible concept that was worth promoting.
Donna Miller and Sandra Graves, both artists, put their heads together to create an event that has lasted 23 years. Both women were founding members of the Arts Association of Oldham County (AAOOC), the 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity that hosts Arts on the Green and runs Gallery 104 in La Grange. Both had previous experience with outdoor art shows and laid the groundwork for the first show.
“We started the AAOOC at the suggestion of the Chamber of Commerce,” Miller says. “My husband and I owned Biscotty Bistro restaurant in La Grange and had artists exhibit in the restaurant. That eventually grew into Gallery 104.”
At the time, seed money was needed to establish the AAOOC. “I had been an artist in glass in Germany for four years doing large shows,” Miller says. “I took that experience to our first Arts on the Green. The very first AOG was the Louisville Opera performing on the lawn of the courthouse. From there, we did the arts and crafts shows. The rest is pretty much history. It was indeed my baby.”
First held in April, the event then moved to June and was held for many years on the grounds of the Oldham County Courthouse. Due to extensive courthouse renovations, the event then settled at its current location in Crestwood at The Maples Park, owned and managed by the City of Crestwood.
AOG will take place on Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, June 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artwork will be judged by professional jurors, and awards and cash prizes given in the categories of ceramics, painting, sculpture, glass, fiber, jewelry, metal, photography, wood, digital art, drawing, and 3D mixed media.
“The quality of artists who jury into AOG at The Maples Park is paramount to the success of the festival,” says Jim Cheski, AAOOC president. “We look for creativity, originality, craftsmanship, adoption of established design principles and the body of work by the artist. All art must be created and produced by the artist, and we even evaluate photographs of previous booth displays for artful display and ergonomics.”
You’ll find artists such as Crestwood jewelry artist Josie Wiseman. She says she began her career when her daughter “saw an ankle bracelet she liked and wanted.” Wiseman knew where to buy jewelry materials so “we went and bought enough beads for half a dozen bracelets.”
Once hooked, she took a silversmithing class at the Louisville Visual Art Association. Wiseman took additional classes, and early in her career she decided to add fine silver clay to her materials. “All of my pieces are made by hand,” she says. “I try to make them special.”
Louisville-based artists include Steve Harris, owner of Steve’s Wood Crafters. Harris crafts functional art from select exotic and interesting hardwoods. A woodworker for over 40 years, he says that he believes “all woods have a story to tell.”
Shepherdsville artist Karen Terhune will display and sell her beautiful sculptures crafted from soapstone, alabaster, marble and Indiana limestone. This year artists will travel from all over Kentucky in addition to Alabama, Indiana, Tennessee and Florida to attend AOG.
The festival includes local entertainment, and an Emerging Artists booth representing work created by students of the Oldham County Schools Art Center. Attendees will be able to cast votes for their favorite student artwork, and the winning student will receive a People’s Choice Award.
A children’s activity booth will be set up with crafts and hands-on activities, staffed by volunteers from the Oldham County Public Library, Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve and others. The park features a splash pad and playground area.
“It’s a community-oriented, free, family-friendly event featuring high-quality art at affordable prices, with great festival food and drinks for sale and daily musical entertainment,” Cheski says. Many local sponsors have donated funds to ensure that this high-quality destination art show continues to fulfill the expectations of participating artists and the community as well.
At the suggestion of Oldham County Tourism & Conventions, AAOOC is partnering with the Louisville Food Truck Association (LFTA), which will provide 15 food trucks daily. There will also be a free shuttle bus, courtesy of LFTA, transporting attendees to and from The Maples Park and three designated public parking sites: South Oldham Middle School, South Oldham High School and Camden Station Elementary School. Handicap parking and transport will be available on-site, as well as artist parking.
When AOG leaders celebrated the event’s 20-year milestone, former Director Mary Klausing remarked that it had lasted for two decades because of “dedicated people who love the arts and want the arts to be a part of this community. Whether to appreciate someone else’s creativity or enhance your own, the arts pops up everywhere in our day-to-day lives. It is a positive, and a bright light that awakens the spirit and the soul.”
“It tickles me to see the show grow and last 23 years,” Miller says, adding that there were 28 artists at the first show. “The largest one was over 100. It developed in the direction I had hoped for. Sandra, if she was still with us, would be so proud.” Graves, a licensed professional art therapist, passed away in 2021.
“AOG grew into a community tradition over the first 20 years when it was held on the quaint, tree-shaded Oldham County Courthouse square,” Cheski says, adding that a new site was immediately sought within the county to find a similar setting, and organizers settled on The Maples Park in Crestwood. “Then COVID-19 hit, and the momentum of 20 years came to an abrupt halt with cancellation of the 2020 festival. We came back to The Maples in 2021.”
For more information, contact Helen McKinney, 2023 AOG director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-487-0379. Contact the AAOOC at email@example.com or 502-222-3822. Also visit aaooc.org.