Do you look at the tickets from the Kentucky Derby and wonder what the story is behind the artwork? Like most activities related to Churchill Downs, the artists that create the unique images that we see reprinted on advertisements, t-shirts, and posters have a distinct history.
Along with the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Derby Festival and other related institutions each pick one artist per year to capture the essence of horse racing.
Is this official Kentucky Derby art?
Around the internet, you will see many references to horse racing artwork and Kentucky Derby prints. Despite this, it is not always the official work associated with Kentucky Derby events of the past. Instead, those pieces of artwork, like the kind found at FineArtAmerica.com, are inspired by Churchill Downs -- but may not have been commissioned, selected, or invited.
When in doubt, you can buy the fine art selected for the Kentucky Derby each year at the Churchill Downs Museum store online or DerbyArtGifts.com. In 1997, LeRoy Neiman was selected as the first official Kentucky Derby artist. For 2012, the official artist was Robert Joyner.
Of course, you should not confuse Kentucky Derby art with Kentucky Derby Festival posters. These are two (very official) different things.
2012 Kentucky Derby Festival Poster artist
In 1981, the Kentucky Derby Festival named the first poster artist. Called "Bluegrass Pegasus," Peter Max made history. Today, the tradition continues with, "André Foreman as the Official Poster Artist for the 2012 Kentucky Derby Festival." Unlike many official artists and poster makers associated with the first Saturday in May, Foreman is a Louisville native.
The next Kentucky Derby Festival artist?
During the month of June, the Kentucky Derby Festival is accepting submissions for the 2013 Kentucky Derby Festival poster artist . While the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) is separate from the Kentucky Derby, the artwork is still a welcome opportunity. In general, the KDF poster is a graphic design project as opposed to a fine arts submission. The last day that they will be received is 5 p.m. EST on July 1, 2012.
Make your mark on Early Times
As the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, Early Times bourbon nods toward the artist tradition at Churchill Downs by hiring one of their own. For the second year in a row, a bottle artist was selected to decorate the special Early Times 2012 Kentucky Derby collector's bottle. For her efforts, artist Celeste Susany from Saratoga Springs, NY won $5000.
If you want to try your hand at winning this grand prize and tickets for two to the 2013 Derby, you have until June 28, 2012 to submit your entry for next year's bottle.
No official 2013 Kentucky Derby art contest?
After using multiple research methods online and offline, you will soon find that an open contest for the official artwork contest for the Kentucky Derby appears to be non-existent . Instead, at the Churchill Downs Facebook page, a hint is revealed in one of their albums. During the unveiling of the 2012 artwork by Robert Joyner, it states, "Clare Jett of Jettstream Productions procured the services of Robert Joyner to create the official art of Kentucky Derby 138."
Since Jettstream Productions works with the official licensing of Churchill Downs merchandise, it is safe to assume that Clare Jett may commission work instead of opening the doors to submissions. Regardless, each year there is an ongoing list of other Kentucky Derby related arts opportunities found at resources like ArtInTheBlue.com and the official Arts Council of Kentucky website.
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- Arts & Entertainment
- Visual Arts
- Kentucky Derby
- Kentucky Derby Festival
- Churchill Downs