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 - October 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

April 8 - August 31, 2018


This exhibit celebrates the Center's 15th Anniversary and recognizes 39 Kentucky artists from all across the state who have shared their talents by giving demonstrations at the Center and bringing the creative process to life for visitors. 

The exhibit brings together new works, biographies, photos and videos of theses artists from over the years. Since opening in 2003, the Center has offered 1,026 artist demonstrations!

All of the artists included in this exhibit have demonstrated at least eight or more times, talking with travelers and showing the processes and techniques they use to create their individual artworks. 

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Gallery Exhibit 
September 8, 2018 - February 28, 2019
Reception - Sunday, September 9, 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.

In celebration of the Center's 15th Anniversary, this exhibit showcases Kentucky artists who have been innovators in their field.

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