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what is kentuck?

the short answer:

kentuck is a heaven of a place.

 

the (slightly) longer answer:

Kentuck Art Center and Festival is an experiential arts and culture economic engine located in Historic Downtown Northport, Alabama. Rooted in 50-years of expertise, Kentuck touches the lives of tens of thousands of people from diverse walks of life in our local, regional, and national communities.

 

kentuck's mission:

kentuck's mission is to perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist.

what does kentuck do?

Kentuck Art Center provides year-round programming with the mission to perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist. Kentuck's programming includes opportunities to interact with art and culture seven days a week for free. By offering a portion of Kentuck's programming for free, this expands access to art and culture to our local underserved and most vulnerable communities. Kentuck firmly believes art should be for everyone, and we are constantly seeking ways to improve the quality and expand the reach of our programming. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts, held yearly in October, serves as Kentuck's largest revenue generator and informs the organization's budget for the following fiscal year. Scroll down to learn more about offered programs and latest initiatives.

program highlights

the festival

What began in 1971 as a celebration of the City of Northport Centennial and the folkways of yore, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts has grown into a highly celebrated, nationally recognized art festival that attracts more than 10,000 visitors and creates a $5.5 million economic impact on the surrounding community. 

The two-day festival has roots in folk art and features 270+ artists, live music, spoken word, activities for children, folk and contemporary craft demonstrations, food trucks, and local craft brews. ​Kentuck Festival of the Arts was most recently recognized by Alabama Department of Tourism as one of the top-ten events to attend in Alabama in 2018 and by Alabama Magazine as one of the “Best of Bama 2018.” Kentuck has also been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, Southern Living, American Style Magazine, and National Geographic Traveler. In 2018, the Festival was named 5th in the nation (based on artists' self-reported sales) in the category of Classic and Contemporary Craft Shows by Sunshine Artists Magazine. The 50th Kentuck Festival of the Arts will be held October 16-17, 2021. Admission: $10/day, $15/weekend; Ages 12 & under get in free. VIP Packages and Corporate Partnerships are available.   Learn More>

exhibitions, art nights, and first fridays

Kentuck Art Center curates four gallery spaces each year—the exhibits carefully chosen by Kentuck intentionally cross cultural boundaries and biases of age, race, gender, and socioeconomic background. The Museum Gallery and Gallery at Hotel Indigo are open seven days a week and serve as a free platform for engagement, healing, and a feeling of belonging for our community. 

Kentuck’s 2021 exhibition season is called "The Mystic Cords of Memory"  and focuses on how we remember the past, how we are influenced by our personal memories, society’s collective memory, and how we shape our own narrative and legacy.

Museum Gallery

503 Main Avenue, Northport

Open 7 days a week, free admission

Ellis Teer Gallery

1922 5th Street, Northport

*Open by request, Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm; Open to the public 5-8pm during Art Nights, free admission

SoNo Gallery - Houses Kentuck's Permanent Collection

1922 5th Street, Northport

*Open by request, Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm; Open to the public 5-8pm during Art Nights, free admission 

Kentuck's Gallery at Hotel Indigo

111 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa

Open 7 days a week, free admission

Art Night is our monthly, FREE event that celebrates art, community, and artists. These events serve as the opening reception for our Museum Gallery exhibitions and often include educational Artist Talks, live music, open artists' studios, and more. 

First Friday at Kentuck's Gallery at Hotel Indigo serve as the opening reception for exhibitions located at Kentuck's Gallery at Hotel Indigo. These occur on select First Fridays throughout the year and coincide with The Tuscaloosa Art Council's First Friday Art Walk.

make and learn: workshops and educational outreach

workshops

From Kids' Summer Clay Camps and Art Exploration to Basketweaving and Art Therapy—Kentuck Art Center is proud to host educational art workshops for all ages. One of our recurring workshops, Open Studio Acrylic Painting, is a collaboration with United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama.

boxes of joy

Kentuck Art Center collaborates with the Northport Housing Authority to bring art supply kits, "Boxes of Joy," to 46 children in the West Circle Community once a month through September 2021. Kentuck's Boxes of Joy provide monthly art kits to children ages 4-12 that include information on Kentuck's current exhibition, step-by-step instructions for a related art activity, and all necessary art supplies. In addition to these art supplies, each box contains information about Kentuck and its current programming. This initiative is sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts through September 2021.

The original goal of this program was to provide a creative outlet for children in underserved communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the end date of the grant funding being September 2021. The demand for this program has grown exponentially and Kentuck is actively seeking funding to continue and expand this program, with the goal of serving all children living in public housing in Tuscaloosa and Northport.

kentuck summer art camp at the benjamin barnes ymca

Benjamin Barnes YMCA Kentuck Summer Art Camp is a new program sponsored by University Lutheran Church. Still in its infancy, this program brings art supplies and art instruction to children participating in the day camp program at the Benjamin Barnes YMCA in Tuscaloosa's West End Community. This program enables Kentuck to deliver more art opportunities that meet the needs of clients where they are, a crucial goal in Kentuck's strategic vision for growth.

our campus - find us by the red dog

Kentuck's campus consists of five repurposed buildings and is home to eight artists' studios, three gallery spaces, a classroom space, Kentuck's Permanent Collection, the Courtyard of Wonders, and the Gallery Shop.

museum building:

Kentuck's main building is over 100 years old (built 1815) and has undergone a community-funded $1.2 million renovation to make the building inhabitable. Located on the corner of Fifth Street and Main Avenue, this is now home to our offices, a rotating exhibition space, and our Gallery Shop.

red dog building:

While this isn't Kentuck's main building, it certainly is the most eye-catching one on our campus and is home to one of our studio artists. Rusty, by artist Larry Godwin, has become an iconic symbol for Kentuck and a favorite landmark in Downtown Northport.

georgine clarke building:

Once a vaccum cleaner repair shop and Northport's Post Office, this building now bears the name of Kentuck's beloved founder, Georgine Clarke. The Clarke Building houses the Teer Gallery, five artists' studios, and the SoNo Gallery. The SoNo Gallery holds Kentuck's Permanent Collection and serves as a multipurpose classroom and meeting space.

artists' studios:

On any given day in Kentuck’s Courtyard of Wonders you can watch a ceramic bowl emerge from a lump of clay, a folk artist at work, or a weathervane grow from hammered metal in our blacksmith’s forge. Kentuck Art Center rents nine studio spaces to local, full‑time artists for below market value to help them make a living doing what they love.

Kentuck Tree mosaic Linda Munoz Rhys Greene

tree mosaic by linda muñoz and rhys greene:

This large mosaic mural is located on the side of our Museum Building and includes so many different elements, we can't list them all! If you look closely, you'll see all sorts of colors, shapes, and textures comprised of pieces of glass, ceramics, bottles, and jewelry. If you look long enough, you'll be able to see mini pieces of art from several Kentuck artists we know and love. This mosaic has become a popular photo spot!

Can you spot one of Glenn House's famous faces? (hint: look under the tree. Click photo to enlarge).

why the name kentuck?

We get asked this question all the time from local folks and visitors alike!  Kentuck was the original name for the settlement that eventually became the city of Northport, which was officially incorporated in 1871 and renamed to highlight its position as the northernmost port on the Black Warrior River. At the time, Kentuck was still used in everyday conversation to describe some thing or place as “ideal” or ”a utopian-like place.”  In fact, the Dictionary of Americanisms (1836) defines kentuck as a heaven of a place. The founders of this organization chose the name to honor their home and to take the meaning of the word to focus on our future.

kentuck museum association is a proud member of