Twice a week, the Lenihan Sotheby’s Int. Realty office publishes a local podcast, and this past week they invited Margue Esrock to visit the studio. Margue is the Executive Director of the St. James Court Art Fair, which runs from September 30th to October 2nd in 2016. Below is a quick summary of that podcast episode, or you can always listen to the full episode, or read the full St James Court Art Fair transcript here!
The St. James Court Art Show has been a tradition in Louisville for 60 years now. It started as a small neighborhood fundraiser where Old Louisville artists hung their works on clotheslines between the trees down St. James Court. Neighborhood residents in the 1950s wanted to raise money to repair the beautiful fountain you see there today.
The show has grown over the years to encompass five neighborhood associations and the West End Baptist Church involved in the planning. Each neighborhood has its own budget and is in charge of taking care of takes its own artists. Each neighborhood chooses who participates in the show and acts as judges. In addition, there is an umbrella organization taking care of the infrastructure, city permits, security and sponsorship needs. There are 258 artists on St. James Court alone.
Different neighborhoods have different vibes, which is part of the beauty in the art fair. For instance, 4th Street is known for having an eclectic, young vibe. By comparison, St. James Court wants to have a more upscale, fine art, higher-priced collection.
In addition to the local talent, the art show gets applications from across the country and even all over the world. Artists from Israel, South America, Guatemala, and Canada have all had pieces featured in the local show. “This year, we have 45 states represented,” says Esrock.
Typically, the show is comprised of 60% returning artists and 40% brand new artists. They try to balance out the different mediums, but also showcase the best of the best. Patrons can find a few rare art forms — like papermaking and printmaking – that aren’t found in other shows. Jewelry and photography are some of the more popular art forms snapped up by the buyers.
The Giving Tree is a neat project organizers have been working on for a year. Last year, a Pin Oak tree on St. James Court was failing, so instead of just demolishing the wood, the pieces were parceled off to local artists. Now there are eight beautiful pieces of art made from the 100-year-old tree. “Now it’s been given new life as a rocking horse, and a cabinet, and a sofa table, and an outdoor candelabra,” Esrock explains. The money raised from these items will go toward the scholarship fund from the St. James Court Charitable Foundation – which, last year, gave away $28,000 to high school students going on to study art in college. These pieces will be viewable in a tent at the corner of St. James Court and Magnolia Avenue.