It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art does it up in style! Their 38th Annual Holiday Forest “Festival of Trees” opened November 15 and runs through December 31.
The Holiday Forest is an annual tradition at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art (OMFA) that started in 1977. This year, the forest includes 15 trees displayed throughout all three wings of the museum. Each tree is decorated by local artists, floral designers, craftsmen, schools, or civic organizations, using their own style and motif, mostly embellished with handmade ornaments. Some are period pieces that take you back to yesteryear. Some are modern interpretations. Some are vignettes with scenes that tell stories, while others are inspired by nature. You’ll see ribbons and bows, angels and stars, and of course, thousands of Christmas lights.
One of the trees celebrates Native American cultural traditions in honor of paintings gifted to the museum’s permanent collection. Gary Tunget, a florist at Fleur de Lis, has designed trees in three period rooms in the historic John Hampden Smith Decorative Arts Wing. The Owensboro Herb Society decorated a tree that will be featured in the Field Stained Glass Gallery. Burns Middle School will be represented by decorations in the Waymond Morris Young Art Gallery, and Ohio County glassmaker Linda House will feature a stained glass tree in the Nancy Field Wilson Religious Art Gallery. Members of the Daviess County Barn Quilt Trail Committee have recreated quilt squares painted on Daviess County barns.
The Holiday Forest attracts thousands of visitors each year, and has become a significant fundraiser for OMFA. It’s the only exhibit the museum ever charges admission to, but it’s still a very nominal fee for the experience: $2 for adults and $1 for children.
It’s also a very popular spot for school field trips. OMFA Director Mary Bryan Hood says, “The children love to see the Christmas trees decorated and hear the stories. For many of the students, it’s their first introduction to an art museum.” The hope is that those students will have a great experience, and then return to this museum and others with their families. It really is a win-win for everyone.
This year, the Holiday Forest runs concurrently with the Consummate Craftsman exhibit, which is designed to showcase major artists from the Southeast who work in three-dimensional media, including clay, glass, metal, fiber, wood, and mixed media, expressing environmental design, interior design, and functional design. The two exhibits go hand in hand, as each of the artists and organizations who decorate trees are asked to interpret the Consummate Craftsman themes.
Hood is especially ecstatic that glass artist Brook White, who grew up in Owensboro and now runs Flame Run glass studio in Louisville, and his mentor and world-renowned glass blower, Stephan Powell, will be collaborating on an exhibit for Consummate Artist. “We’re thrilled to have them,” Hood said. “Their work is remarkable, so this will be quite a spectacular year for us.” Their exhibit for Consummate Craftsman will be on the first floor, featuring 12 recent works, including some very large vessels and pedestal pieces. They have also crafted three brand new pieces just for this show.
As an added bonus, Brook also contributed 100 glass ornaments to decorate a tree for the Holiday Forest that he has entitled “Great Balls of Fire.” Participating in the Festival of Trees is significant for Brook because he remembers seeing the Holiday Forest during a school trip when he was a kid. “I remember seeing trees decorated from all over the world and I thought that was really neat. So this is really cool for me to be a part of, because it brings me full-circle. I would have never dreamed back then that I’d be an artist decorating one of those same trees now as an adult. Who knows, maybe a kid will see my glass ornaments this year and remember it later like I did.”
The Festival of Trees comes down at the end of December, but the Consummate Craftsman exhibit runs through February 22.
OMFA’s interactive art studio, ARTLAND, will offer a special feature for children during the six-week Christmas exhibition where kids can create holiday take-home decorations.
The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art is located at 9th and Frederica streets and is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit the museum’s website at www.omfa.us.
[tw-divider]Did you know?[/tw-divider]
- The Glenmore Distillery was the first corporate sponsor of the OMFA, and they remain the signature sponsor to this day.
- ARTLAND, which is sponsored by the Michael E. Horn Family Foundation, is presented free to the public during regular museum hours.