The Kentuck Festival of the Arts began as a community celebration featuring reenactment and demonstration of southern folkways. While the Festival has expanded both in size and scope, it continues to value the work of traditional and contemporary artisans, which is why Kentuck considers it a priority to invite artists to demonstrate their craft at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. Many of our Demonstrating Artists are local art organizations that are active year-round—the Festival brings them publicity and exposure.
Scroll through to see which demonstrating artists will be at The 52nd Kentuck Festival of the Arts on October 14-15, 2023!
Aaron Sanders Head
Aaron Sanders Head is an Alabama-based artist, originally raised in both Grady, AL and Hope Hull, AL. Aaron was exposed to art and working with the elements of the earth from young age, as his mom was an artist and his father was an agricultural worker. His parents were both rural mail carriers, and Aaron would frequently accompany them on routes, further developing his fondness of rural Alabama. When he himself became an artist, he worked with the inherited family tradition of quilt-making. Each of his pieces are hand-dyed with plants grown in Alabama, and he collects scraps of fabric from locals, emphasizing Alabama's natural beauty and the lived experiences of Alabama residents. In 2023, Aaron had two solo exhibits at Kentuck: Firewalker at Kentuck's Gallery at Hotel Indigo and Ain't Gonna Study War No More at Kentuck's Museum Gallery.
Alabama Forge Council
The Alabama Forge Council is a non-profit organization that promotes the knowledge of blacksmithing skills and works to promote the continued re-discovery of the art of blacksmithing. The Council is an affiliate of the Artisan Blacksmith Association of America (ABANA).
Andrew and Etta McCall
Andrew and Etta McCall are self-taught basket weavers and furniture makers from Letohatchee, Alabama. They say they are following a divine guidance by creating artworks using methods taught to them by God. The McCalls have been making their artwork for more than twenty-five years. Andrew and Etta, along with their children throughout the years, spend time in the woods and abandoned areas near their home south of Montgomery in search of the right materials for their unique work. The lumber comes from old houses being torn down, and the vines are collected from the woods. Wisteria, grape, and kudzu vines are twisted together by hand to make baskets and furniture, reflecting the McCalls' respect for and enjoyment of nature.
The McCalls have sold their pieces at galleries in Birmingham, fairs, and craft centers, and even QVC. They have been a featured artist of Southern Makers, a Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center Treasured Artist in 2010 and 2015, and featured on Absolutely Alabama. The McCalls are longtime Kentuck Festival of the Arts participants and have work included in Kentuck's Permanent Collection.
Bernard Wright specializes in painting with mud and natural elements, a technique learned from Jimmy Lee Sudduth (1910-2007), an internationally famous artist and exhibitor at Kentuck Festival for more than twenty years. Wright is listed in Contemporary American Folk Art: A Collectors Guide as the only apprentice of Jimmy Lee Sudduth, also known as the "founding father of Alabama Mud Painting." Wright's work has been featured at the Arts Council Gallery in Tuscaloosa, in Kentuck Art Center's Museum Gallery, and at Arts Alive in 2018. He is a member of the Sipsey Art Alliance, and his work can be seen in museums in South Carolina, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., & Fayette, AL.
Beth Phillips was raised on a dairy farm in southern Tennessee, and, as she was nearing her high school graduation, Beth knew that she wanted nothing more than to move to the city and leave the country behind. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts, Beth moved to Atlanta and began working in galleries and art education centers, which put her own work on the backburner.
By the time Beth was in her mid-30s, she had moved to Birmingham’s “wonderful eclectic” Southside neighborhood and was a mother to two young children. Living on a dead-end nestled against a kudzu-covered, hilly lot, Beth and her two children spent their time outside exploring. Beth’s children showed an interest in what could be made from the extremely long, fast-growing kudzu vines that made their way into their backyard. They began wrapping sticks and making wreaths, and, although her kids lost interest after a few days, Beth began using kudzu as a sculpting medium, creating very large figurative work that filled their backyard and gained the attention of a local neighbor who invited Beth for her first exhibition! Beth’s constant experimentation with kudzu has led her on a twelve-year journey—learning about kudzu and its benefits and how to best manipulate the vines. Her work is now free-form and open weave in her one-of-a-kind spheres and lampshades, and, when lit from the inside, gives a dramatic display of like and shadow. Beth also draws on inspiration from nature, fairy, and goddess imagery to create her figurative sculptures that celebrate the Divine Feminine and the wild, raw beauty of the nature world.
Beth Phillips moved back to the country and calls Rogersville, Alabama her home with her guitar-playin husband, 3 dogs, 3 cats, and two adult children who come back to visit from time to time. Her work can be found online at , at Homegrown Art Gallery in Sheffield Alabama, and Kentuck’s Gallery Shop in Northport, Alabama as well as numerous private collections throughout the US.
Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center
Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Camden, Alabama. The organization was started with the objective to stimulate the economy in Alabama's Black Belt region through the promotion and sale of fine arts and heritage crafts, as well as the provisions of arts education opportunities. It was developed as an overgrowth of a tourism initiative launched by the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission, Ala-Tom RC&D, and the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development. During the work to catalog assets that that would be of interest to tourists throughout the region, a wealth of artistic talent was discovered; these talented men and women helped to inspire the creation of the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center. Since opening its doors in 2005, the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center has grown from representing 75 artists to representing over 450. Visitors from all fifty states and over 27 countries have visited our gallery in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt region.
Located about 30 minutes south of Montgomery, Alabama, Brooks Barrow is a traditional craftsman and self-taught sculptor. He specializes in bowls and other functional objects along with sculptural pieces and public sculpture commissions. He uses a process that blends old world techniques and traditional tools with a modern eye to emphasize functionality while following an austere, minimalist aesthetic inspired by nature. Although he uses a broad range of stones including granite and slate, his primary interest is working with limestone and marble native to the state of Alabama.
Crimson Clay is an organization hosted by the University of Alabama that brings together students who share a common enthusiasm for working with clay. Whether focused on functional or sculpture clay art, each member works toward a greater understanding of material and process. Every semester, members seek to benefit the larger group and broader community by building relationships with local partners. This is accomplished, in part, through the exhibition of student artwork as well as fund-raising events, including Empty Bowls, the Druid City Arts Festival and the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. As a result, students receive funding assistance from the club to attend conferences or ceramic-based research activities throughout the United States.
Crossroads Arts Alliance
Crossroads Arts Alliance is a Board of the town of Gordo, Alabama, whose mission is to promote and support the making and teaching of arts in Gordo and Pickens County while enhancing positive partnerships, economic development, cultural tourism, and quality of life. Membership is open to all supporters of its mission.
The Glass Studio LLC
The Glass Studio LLC is group studio that creates luminescent glass art with the goal of making beautiful, unique, and affordable art widely available to many who might believe that art glass is "out of reach". They hold a 25-year tradition of custom architectural commissions, creating sculptural glass installations for public and private spaces.
Green Pea Press
Founded by Rachel Lackey in 2011 as the first community printshop in Alabama, Green Pea Press grew exponentially over 11 years, offering memberships, workshops, demonstrations and field trips, custom printing services, on-site event printing, wholesale and retail items.
Green Pea Press's printmaking studio and retail shop were located on the first floor of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment in Huntsville, Alabama, the largest independent arts center in the nation. Their 4,200sqft low-toxicity working studio provided resident and local artists access to equipment in a variety of fine art print media, including block printing, monotype, intaglio, and letterpress. The Pea Pod, their retail space, offered a broad range of items for sale that were hand-printed in-house by members and employees of Green Pea Press. In 2015, they opened a second location at 2720 Governors Drive to house our screen printing facilities, just a few blocks up the street.
In early 2022, they closed their studio at Lowe Mill and ended their collective operations, moving toward a sustainable model of production printing, fundraising, and selling their own brand of printed apparel and goods while maintaining high standards, artistic roots, and passion for helping community. They continue to conduct our custom printing production at our Governors Drive shop Monday through Friday, with a small retail area in the front.
Kentuck Red Dog Potters
Kentuck's Red Dog Potters is a membership-based community clay studio located on Kentuck Art Center's campus. These artists exhibit in several shows throughout the year, including the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. In addition to larger, juried shows, our Red Dog Potters have the occasional pop-up event on Kentuck's campus.
Kerry Kennedy (Firehorse Pottery)
Kerry Kennedy’s first love is pottery and sculptural ceramics. She has thrown pottery for over fifteen years. As a student, Kennedy was deeply interested in sculptural works that fused thrown forms with organic aesthetics. These ideas are always influencing even the most functional shapes of mugs and bowls. Her passion for creative anachronism of the renaissance period takes her to several festivals throughout the nation each year.
MFA Book Arts Program, The University of Alabama
The MFA Book Arts program is a 60-credit hour course hosted by the University of Alabama. It is a study in the fine art and traditional practices of making books by hand. Historical principles, practices, and techniques are studied so that a student may develop their own individual artistic expression. Courses in letterpress printing and publishing, typography, hand bookbinding, hand papermaking, and the history of the book are all taught in order to provide context for the book's importance as an art medium and significant societal resource.
The University of Alabama emphasizes the book as an integrated unit, although they offer opportunities for students who wish to pursue specific interest in one or more of these areas after the initial year of general study.
Neel Alexander believes his art performs best when it subtly blends many styles, influences, and media into something unique for that moment. A lot of his work uses themes of nature and historical popular culture references. The mediums he uses the most are acrylics, paint markers, and spray paint. He also enjoys making sculptures. His main process starts by writing down ideas throughout the day and later revising them into drawings. Depending on the idea in the drawing, he then chooses a medium to start working with. When it all goes well, he finishes with a fully realized illustration, painting, or sculpture.
Open Letter Press
Located on Kentuck Art Center's campus, Open Letter Press is a collaborative letterpress and book arts studio run by Kentuck Studio Artists Alana Baldwin and Amy LeePard. Both Amy and Alana hold Master of Fine Arts degrees in Book Arts from The University of Alabama.
Scott McQueen is an accomplished folk artist and Studio Artist at Kentuck Art Center. Growing up in Fayette, Alabama, Scott considers himself blessed to have personally known two revered folk artists: Jimmy Lee Sudduth and Rev. Benjamin F. Perkins. Scott is a graduate of Samford University (B.A.), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Luther Rice Seminary (D.Min). A former minister of 34 years, Scott believes his art is a kind of ministry all its own. “I find a satisfaction in breathing new life into what others have thrown away or overlooked. My art is a simple kind of mirror, reflecting upon our own.” In addition to being a full time artist who attends an average of 20 festivals per year, he is also the author of Reasonable Doubt — A Case for LGBTQ Inclusion in the Institutions of Marriage and Church.
Sloss Metal Arts
Since initiating the metal arts program in 1985, Sloss has offered workshops, exhibitions, and conferences on all aspects of metal working—forging, fabricating and casting—but focuses primarily on the use of cast iron as a sculpture medium. Sloss hosted the First and Second International Conferences on Contemporary Cast Iron Art in 1988 and 1994 and continues to organize the biennial National Conference on Cast Iron Art. Open studios give a regional audience of professional artists access to the foundry facilities needed to cast their own work, while regular sculpture workshops in casting, welding and forging are designed for people with no metalwork experience. At the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, festivalgoers can carve sandstone tiles and Sloss will cast them in metal for festivalgoers to take home with them as a one of a kind souvenir.
Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra Guild
Established in 1984, The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra Guild first began in the living room of Elizabeth and George Hamner. Today, the guild includes more than 130 members. The group hosts the Instrument Petting Zoo found at Kentuck Festival of the Arts as well as Cheers & Chat, an hour of wine and hors d'oeuvres held before concerts in the Recital Gall of the Moody Music Building. For the past six years, the Guild has awarded $11,200 through the Hamner Scholarship. In addition, the Guild has given the symphony over $18,000 in support in the past six years.
Jackson & Hinds County, Mississippi
A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Virginia graduated high school after serving as a model for on-going adult painting classes taught by her high school art teacher and participating in a summer-long program in the arts sponsored by The Alabama Council on the Arts.
Entering the University of Alabama initially as an art major, Virginia was a member of the New College division there and was graduated with a major in Southern Culture and Folklife Studies. She became Program Officer of the Alabama Humanities Foundation and travelled the state working with local cultural and community groups, libraries, city and county administrators, colleges and universities to fund, plan and produce local cultural events. Later she took on responsibilities of the Community Education program of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, coordinating community tours and events, art, architecture and history exhibitions and outreach through school programs, as well as serving on the Birmingham Mayor’s community board for cultural outreach.
Upon moving to Mississippi in early 1989, Virginia worked with a local photographer on a publication project for the ArtsAlliance of Jackson & Hinds County, the area arts council, now known as the Greater Jackson Arts Council. Following completion of this project, she took the position of Local Arts Program Director with the Mississippi Arts Council (MAC), travelling the state to work with local arts councils to improve their organizations and local activities. During this time Virginia also worked closely with MAC board members to increase their involvement and ensure their participation in arts programming throughout Mississippi.
After several years in service with MAC, Ms. Shirley was selected to serve as Executive Director of the ArtsAlliance of Jackson & Hinds County. In this role she gave speeches to the general public and community groups, participated on the Mayor’s community advisory board, and worked directly with the Southern Arts Federation, the National Endowment for the Arts, corporations and sponsors, as well as board members and staff to ensure funding for the organization. Ms. Shirley also worked to develop and oversee ArtsAlliance programs including an annual three-day downtown arts and music festival with crowds approaching 25,000 participants daily, gallery exhibitions, school programs, an area arts grants program with funds approximating $100,000 annually, a calendar for the general arts community and resources for local arts groups both large and small.
Around 1999, Virginia took her creative talents into the studio full time. Working in various arts media, she won awards for her work in photography and clay. She had years of experience in painting in watercolor and acrylics, but after studying plein air painting at the Taos Art School Virginia settled into a full-time focus on painting exclusively in oils.
West Alabama Quilters Guild
West Alabama Area
Established in 1991, The West Alabama Quilters Guild was established to promote the appreciation of quilts, which are seen as a heavily-southern medium. The Guild shares knowledge of quilting techniques and performs community service projects. The Guild has over 100 members, including both men and women.
Over the years, members of the guild have made hundreds of quilts for charity and donated them to neighbors and individuals receiving service from numerous local organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House, Veteran's Affairs, Tuscaloosa Sheriff's Office, Tuscaloosa Children's Center, and Turning Point to name a select few. In addition, the quilts have also been sent to other communities where disasters have struck as a way of "paying forward" the kindness that the Tuscaloosa community received after the severe April 27, 2011 tornado.
West Alabama Fiber Guild
West Alabama Area
Founded by Carol Timkovich, The West Alabama Fiber Guild was formed in 1995. The Guild focuses on providing educational programs for fiber enthusiasts. Fiber arts include hand spinning, weaving, dyeing, knitting, crocheting, lace-making, tatting, and more. They attend Kentuck Festival of the Arts annually in the Fall and host a "Sheep-to-Shawl" event in the Spring.
Woodworkers Association of West Alabama
West Alabama Area
better known as WAWA, is a non-profit organization that promotes woodworking as an art form. Monthly meetings feature guest speakers, camaraderie, and the sharing of tips learned over time. The group began meeting roughly 26 years ago in the home of member Peter Siegel. As the group attracted more members, meetings moved to a church meeting room. In the early 2000s, member Dr. Alex Todorov volunteered his workshop for the meetings.
Each year, WAWA demonstrates at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, helping countless children make their own birdhouses to take home. The group also holds a yearly show at Jim Harrison’s Gallery in downtown Tuscaloosa.
WHAT: the 52nd Kentuck Festival of the Arts WHEN: October 14 & 15, 2023; Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 9am-4pm WHERE: Kentuck Park 3501 5th Street Northport, Alabama 35476 TICKETS: $15 single day pass, $25 weekend pass, kids 12 & under get in free.
Tickets & VIP Package sale starts August 1, 2023.
The 52nd Kentuck Festival of the Arts is October 14-15, 2023 at Kentuck Park in Northport, Alabama! This one-of-a-kind festival is a southeastern arts and culture hub featuring more than 270 artists, live music, spoken word, activities for children, folk and contemporary craft demonstrations, food trucks, and local craft brews. The Festival was recognized by the Alabama Department of Tourism as one of the top-ten events to attend in Alabama, was named "Best of Bama 2022" by Alabama Magazine, and named a "Local Legacy" by The United States Library of Congress. Kentuck was also featured in Smithsonian Magazine, Southern Living, American Style Magazine, and National Geographic Traveler.