kentuck is a heaven of a place
Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Northport, Alabama, Kentuck Art Center and Festival has cultivated a rich 50-year history as a nationally known crossroads of creativity and community. Having roots in folk art, Kentuck provides year-round programming with the mission to perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist. Visit us during one of our events or any time the Gallery Shop is open. Feel free to hang out in our Courtyard of Wonders, visit the resident artists' studios, and browse in our Gallery Shop.
find us by the red dog
Kentuck's campus consists of five repurposed buildings and is home to eight artists' studios, two gallery spaces, a classroom space, Kentuck's Permanent Collection, the Courtyard of Wonders, and the Gallery Shop.
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.
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.
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. So why the name Kentuck? 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.
100 years later, Northport hosted a celebration to commemorate its centennial: downtown was decked out with folks in pioneer dress demonstrating traditional crafts from the period, and several artists exhibited their work in an empty storefront. The event was successful and community planners decided to host an annual event celebrating art and craft. A name was selected that celebrated the community’s heritage and history: Kentuck. The Festival moved down the street to picturesque Kentuck Park a few years later, and by the mid 1980’s the Festival had grown to its present size, attracting over 280 artists and some 10,000‑15,000 visitors annually.