Kentucky Tourism

Special Exhibits

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea presents exciting exhibits of artisan works and displays that showcase Kentucky's culture, heritage and attractions.

Gallery exhibits are formatted and curated by invitation and also by a statewide call-for-entries. Gallery exhibits run 5-6 months and often focus on a theme, technique, or specific medium. 

Lobby exhibits are often educational, cultural or historical in content and are researched and formatted to inspire visitors to learn more about Kentucky. The lobby also features large format 2-D works, showcased in the annual exhibit "Reveal" every January-April.

See the current and upcoming Kentucky Artisan Center exhibits listed below.

Regular monthly events are listed on our CALENDAR OF EVENTS.

Current Lobby Exhibit


Lobby Exhibit - May 5 - December 31, 2018

PHOTOS: Artist Ray Papka; "Shakespeare" mixed media work by Ray Papka

The Kentucky Artisan Center announces a new exhibit of works by Versailles artist Ray Papka. This exhibit showcases 19 colorful and intriguing mixed media works that spring from a central idea into a juxtaposition of color, found materials, techniques and formats.

Papka’s works are formed by his childhood and by 30 years as a Ph.d and educator in the field of brain and nerve sciences. Born and raised in Wyoming, with a childhood that rivaled Tom Sawyer, Papka learned early on to be self-reliant and independent. From an early age, he was drawn to books, maps, and relics from the past. 

“Books allowed my mind to travel everywhere,” Papka states, “they connect knowledge and history and I love to recycle them in my work.”

Papka studied Zoology and Chemistry as an undergrad and with a scholarship to Tulane, earned his Ph.D. in anatomy and neuroscience. After 10 years teaching at the University of Kentucky, Papka traveled to Australia on a sabbatical before teaching at the University of Oklahoma for ten years. His last teaching position saw him as head of Neuroscience and Vice-President of research at Northeast Ohio University College of Medicine. His expertise in nerve studies resulted in travel and consultant work in Denmark and Hungary.

Papka moved back to Kentucky to be near his three daughters. He jokes that most people know him as the father of Ouita Michel, Perry Papka and Paige Walker. Papka has settled into creating his artwork full-time. In his basement studio outside of Midway, his collection of books, objects, gadgets and paper offer an astonishing collection that form the essential parts of his mixed media works. 

Using an age-old technique called encaustic painting, Papka layers melted beeswax mixed with natural resins and colored  pigments onto his rigid wood panel surfaces. The word “encaustic” comes from the Greek meaning “to heat” or “to burn in” or “fuse.” This medium is archival and it gives a sense of depth to a surface, reflecting light, and offering a sensuous appearance

“Doing artwork is kind of like doing lab work to me – because in my scientific career I’d set up a hypotheses and go into the lab and do the research to test it,” Papka states. “Now in my artwork, I set up a title first, and I go into the studio and work – and that piece becomes an experiment because the story is coming out of me as I am working. So I’m doing the same thing,” Papka reasons, “using the same neurological pathways in my brain.” 
While Papka’s scientific background and intellectual processes direct his art, he often uses old books to form the structure of his mixed media works. In the piece, “Book Totem II” an illustration of a vaulted library is seen between two rows of the spines of actual books on a shelf built out from surface. The lower half includes printed text, a niche with typewriter keys and overlays in wax of color, writing and punctuation marks. The work expresses Papka’s love of books, text, printing, fonts and papers used in printing, as well as the history of print and books. 

 "Book Totem II" by Ray Papka

Works in this exhibit reflect a variety of subjects and ideas, often initiated by an object found at a flea market. Finding an old violin case and sheet music to “Fanfare for the Common Man,” a composition by composer Aaron Copland, became the genesis of two works titled “Fanfare I and II. Fan shaped brass parts from a fire screen represent the brass orchestra and are encased within the lid and bottom of an old violin case. Sheets of music line the violin case and even the end of an actual brass horn is included.

The work “Shakespeare” includes a portrait of the bard, miniature versions of his plays, all secured within the confines of an actual open book. “Leonardo’s Journal” is another in a series Papka has created to honor great thinkers. 

Of special interest are two works that are composed of multiple pieces aligned together. “Remnants” includes nine sections, each speaking to remnants of different things such as numbers, dreams, navigation, games, time, travel, and music. 

The work “Synthesis” includes 10 sections in a composition of red, white and black that juxtapose a variety of objects and images placed together to create a fascinating and beautiful composition.

This exhibit will be on display at the Kentucky Artisan Center from May 5 – October 31, 2018. All works are for sale.

The Kentucky Artisan Center features works by more than 750 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. Special exhibits currently on display include, “Get Ready, Get Set: Multiples in Clay.” For more information about events call 859-985-5448, go to the center’s website or visit us on Facebook.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. 

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

 "Synthesis" by Ray Papka

Current Gallery Exhibit

Sept. 9, 2018 - Feb. 28, 2019

MEET THE ARTISTS RECEPTION: Sunday, Sept. 9 - 1:30-3:00 pm

  "Pattern Fusion No. 9" by Arturo Alonzo Sandoval (84.75 inches x 84.5 inches)
"Frazzled Bombastic Swoosher" by Stephen Rolfe Powell (60" tall x 41" wide x 12" deep)

The Kentucky Artisan Center opens a new exhibit recognizing two internationally known Kentucky artists who have been innovators in their respective fields. Both Stephen Rolfe Powell and Arturo Alonzo Sandoval have expanded boundaries by utilizing unusual materials and pushing their mediums into new and exciting formats.

A Meet-the-Artist reception will be held on Sunday, Sept. 9, from 1:30 to 3:00 PM. This exhibit will be on display at the Kentucky Artisan Center through February 28, 2019.

Fire is a primary element and Stephen Rolfe Powell uses it to explore the power of color with glass. The evolution of his work from vessels, to sculptures, to walls, gives insight into his continuing delight in the process of creation and his drive for discovery in glass.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Powell graduated from Centre College in Danville, KY, with a BA degree in painting, and received an MFA in ceramics from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. During graduate school summers, Powell went to Haystack School of Craft and Penland School of Crafts where he was drawn to the extraordinary glass being made there. It was the color, the dramatic process, and the team effort required in the creation of glass that appealed to him. While his degree was in ceramics, Powell was determined to become a glass artist.

Returning to Kentucky to teach ceramics and sculpture at Centre College, he began building a glass studio on the rooftop above the ceramics studio. He then designed a state-of-the-art glass studio which Centre opened as part of their new Jones Visual Arts Center in 1998. 

As a seminal force in glass in Kentucky, and a professor since 1983, Powell has attracted prospective students from all over the country. A hot glass studio requires teamwork and his students soon become not only his assistants but also an integral part of creating his works. Many of Powell’s assistants and students are now recognized glass artists on their own. 

Powell has always been intrigued by fire, and by how glass conveys color. His work is recognized by his use of murrini - slices of colored glass – arranged to expand during the glassblowing process to become the brilliantly colored surfaces of his forms. 

Powell’s non-traditional studio methods have set him apart as an innovator in his field. Driven by the intense and strenuous process itself, he continues his journey with glass into the realm of architecture. His newest works called “Zoomers” are walls of glass with arresting colors and patterns composed from thousands of murrini. This exhibit illuminates the progression of Powell’s passion for color, process and the dance of the making.

"Enigmatic Sultry Viper" by Stephen Rolfe Powell (45" tall x 29" wide x 19" deep)            
Powell’s contributions to his field include exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and lectures across the globe. He has worked in Russia, Ukraine, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Twice awarded Kentucky’s “Teacher of the Year” award, in 2004, he was presented the Acorn Award by the Kentucky Council on Post-secondary Education. Powell received the Kentucky Governor’s Artist Award in the Arts and the Rude Osolnik Craftsman Award and in 2012, he was presented with the Distinguished Educator Award from the James Renwick Alliance in Washington, D.C. His work is in the collections of the Auckland Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corning Glass Museum, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Hermitage and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts among others.

Fiber artist Arturo Alonzo Sandoval weaves textile materials that reflect the elements of today’s culture. His larger than life works address political and social themes in his ongoing effort to understand the world around him. His weavings break the boundaries of traditional textiles to become statements of contemporary and personal truth.

Sandoval was born in Espanola, New Mexico, into a family with both Hispanic and Native American roots. His mother, Cecilia E. Archuleta wove sixty blankets and at the age of forty, Sandoval discovered that ancestors on his father’s side (Lorenzo Sandoval) had been weavers of colonial Spanish textiles for over two hundred and fifty years. Sandoval believes that this textile ancestry has directed his work in fiber arts.

While in college, Sandoval says that he experienced a spiritual voice telling him “weaving will be very important to you.” He took his first beginning-weaving course while in graduate school, and looking back, he wonders if indeed an ancestor was showing him the direction his life would take.

Sandoval completed both his BA and MA degrees at California State College – Los Angeles. Interrupted in 1965, by a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to the states to finish his MA degree in sculptural fiber art. He earned his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1971, and joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky in 1973, where he taught until his retirement.

Sandoval’s fiber art created a new contemporary aesthetic when he began weaving recycled industrial materials such as computer tape, battery cables, microfilm, Mylar, Holographic film and Lurex. Whether using a floor loom, sewing machine, interlacing or simply combining new age materials in a collage or assemblage process, Sandoval has done a great deal to put textile art on an entirely different plane of relevance, innovation and design. The large format of his textiles require teamwork and his students soon became assistants, helping him interlace and weave the many strands of materials into the finished work. His mantra to his students being, “work produces results.”

The large format works in this exhibit suggest computer circuit boards, motherboards and other technological bits woven by Sandoval into works of monumental scale that suggest mankind might easily become overwhelmed by technology. 

"Pattern Fusion No. 10 - Motherboard 1" by Arturo Alonzo Sandoval (73 inches x 79 inches)

Sandoval has contributed to the art world as a textile artist, adjudicator, lecturer, curator, facilitator, board member, mentor, designer and advisor. His art has been shown internationally in Switzerland, Japan, Poland and England. Elected to the American Craft Council Society of Fellows, his art is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, among others. He received both the Kentucky Governor’s Artist Award and the Rude Osolnik Craftsman Award. In 2008, Sandoval was given the University of Kentucky’s highest honor by having the first Endowed Professorship Chair in his name awarded to the College of Fine Arts.  

Stephen Rolfe Powell and Arturo Alonzo Sandoval have both pushed their mediums into new worlds of expression. As innovators and seminal artists in their respective fields, they have led by example and transformed their passion into works of great vision and beauty.  

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.                                       



International Society of Scratchboard Artists

Gallery Exhibit 
May 17 - July 21, 2019
Meet-the-Artists Reception - Friday, May 17, 2019, 3:00 to 5:30 p.m.

This juried exhibition is being held in conjunction with the International Society of Scratchboard Artists annual conference being held in Berea on May 17-19, 2019. This exhibit will include a wide range of works both in size and subject and will showcase some of the best artists in this unique medium. Members hail from all over the United States as well as from such countries as Switzerland, Germany, Australia, and China among others. 

Founded in 2011, the International Society of Scratchboard Artists is dedicated to the promotion of Scratchboard Art, offering support to artists and education to the public about this medium. The organization offers membership levels for all artists from supporters, to beginners, to professionals. It hosts  annual exhibitions, demonstrations and conferences. 

The 2017 Annual Scratchboard Exhibit Newcomer Award was "Nose-Dive" by Diana Hohlig from Switzerland

The 2017 Annual Scratchboard Exhibit Silver Award in the Open Division was "Checking His Harem" by Cynthie Fisher of Montana

Gallery Exhibit 
April 7 - July 21, 2018

This exhibit showcases more than 30 Kentucky artists who over the Kentucky Artisan Center's 15 year history have shared their artistic know