One of Owensboro’s oldest holiday traditions, the 41st HOLIDAY FOREST FESTIVAL OF TREES, will open the local Christmas season with a preview gala, Saturday, November 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art.
The festival is highlighted by two exhibitions. THE FOREST OF TREES, featuring twenty monumental Christmas trees and special decorations designed and created by local artists, florists and organizations. These interpret the exhibition APPALACHIAN SPIRIT, selected from the museum’s collection of more than 1000 objects of folk and outsider art.
The exhibitions and gala are sponsored by The Glenmore Distillery, the traditional patron of the previous forty festivals of trees. The gala will feature holiday cuisine and entertainment by the Bluegrass music band, Kings Highway.
Admission to the gala is $50 per person, discounted to $40 for subscribers to the OMFA Friends of the Foundation. Reservations may be made by contacting the museum at 270-685-3181 or [email protected] or visiting its website at www.omfa.us
APPALACHIAN SPIRIT features some of the most prominent naïve artists of the mid to late 20th century and celebrates the museum’s collection as an important documentary on this aspect of American art.
The collection was acquired to showcase the diversity of creativity expressed by contemporary artists and craftsmen working outside the academic tradition and explores the innovative styles, techniques and nontraditional media used by unschooled artists and craftsmen. Showcased are paintings in a variety of media, sculpture in wood, metal and fiber, dioramas and furniture.
Working outside the constraints and expectations of the professional art world, these artists have developed signature styles and established a body of work which scholars, critics and curators often struggle to categorize. Many of these artists have earned wide recognition in contemporary art circles and some have achieved a permanent place in American art history.
Major artists of the genre represented in the collection include Howard Finster, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver and S. L. Jones from the southeastern states and the southwest’s famed santeros Luis Tapia, Marie Romero Cash and David Nabor Lucero. Celebrated Kentuckians include Edgar Tolson, Minnie and Garland Adkins, Ronald and Jessie Cooper, Charley and Noah Kinney, Tim Lewis and Denzil Goodpaster.
Several area artists who have achieved recognition working in this genre are the Rev. Oda Shouse, Gary Hargis, Don Lacy and the late Margaret Hudson Ross, Mary Anderson Cayce, Judge George Triplett III and Judge Robert M. Short.
The collection has been acquired by the museum over the last three decades through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folk Art Society of America and gifts from important private collectors including Ramona Lampell founder of the famed O’Appalachia Collection; the late Dr. William G. Ward and his wife Nancy Ward; the late Dr. and Mrs. John Miller and many of the artists in the exhibition.
Special trees celebrating the folk art tradition which were created for the HOLIDAY FOREST include “The Doll Tree” by Hartford doll maker, Liz Davis; Allie Huffman’s Burns Middle School students’ “Scandinavian Sprites”; the Owensboro Herb Society’s “Cornhusk Dolls”; Western Kentucky Basket Guild’s “Woven Together Tree”; glassmaker, Linda House’s “A Stained Glass Tree and St Stephen Cathedral’s “Chrismon Tree”.
A collection of four trees were designed especially for the John Hampden Smith Decorative Arts Wing by Gary Tunget of Gary’s Fleur de Lis Florist. A variety of trees drawn from the museum’s holiday collection are also featured including former Owensboroan Marion Vasterling’s “Mesoamerican Traditions” and a grouping of “Goose Feather Trees” by JoAnne Hobbs of Hodgenville, KY.
Special activities for regional schools include participatory projects in ARTLAND, the interactive studio for children, where ornaments for the ARTLAND TREE will be made and ornaments also made to take home. Guided school tours of the exhibitions are available by reservation.
The HOLIDAY FOREST FESTIVAL OF TREES will remain on display through December 31. APPALACHIAN SPIRIT will continue through February 4. This holiday exhibition is the only time the OMFA charges an admission fee and is $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. Museum hours are noon to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.