select local artist
to teach children
event is organized by Kaelins About Art Gallery
MIDDLETOWN, Ky. (June 2005) On the day when
most horse racing fans will focus their attention on New Yorks
Belmont Park for the final leg of thoroughbred racings beloved
Triple Crown, equine artist Jan Yarberry will be teaching youngsters
how to draw the animals heralded on the race track.
Ky., artist Jan Yarberry will be a featured attraction at the
As one of nearly two dozen Louisville area artists hand-selected
to take part in the inaugural Middletown Art Festival, Yarberry, a retired
physical education teacher, will work with budding artists from 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m. on June 11 at the Frank Otte Nursery in Middletown.
Organized by Deniece Kaelin, owner of About Art Gallery and Discount
Framing, proceeds from the art festival will also benefit the St. Marys
Center, a residential facility for children afflicted with Downs Syndrome.
Were dong what little we can to help them (St. Marys
Center) and showcase local artists, Kaelin said of the event.
These are artists I have worked with for the past two years at
different venues and shows around town. Theyll actually be painting.
People can interact with the artists.
Yarberrys work ranges from tabletop paintings of famous racehorses
such as Cigar and 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin to oil canvas
paintings of equines with which she shares a personal connection. Asked
why she chose to include Yarberry, Kaelin replied, She brings
life to these thoroughbreds. Youre drawn to the picture. The love
she pours into this art, it runs cold chills on you.
A Nebraska native, Yarberry describes herself as a third generation
Studying Yarberrys bloodlines, it is easy to discern that her
link to race horses runs deep and true.
A grandfather on her mothers side of the family gained prominence
as a dairy farmer and began racing thoroughbreds in the Midwest during
the Great Depression. One of Yarberrys aunts took an interest
in the new family business, became a jockey and helped open the profession
to other women. And her father, the late Warren Yarberry, who started
riding thoroughbreds as a 10-year-old in Texas, was named Apprentice
Jockey of America in 1939.
Now living in Shelbyville, Ky., Yarberry, 61, recalled in a telephone
interview that even though she spent 28 years working as a middle school
teacher in southern Illinois while raising two children, she never gave
up her thoroughbred roots.
I had summers free to race horses, said Yarberry, who officially
obtained her Kentucky trainers license some 25 years ago.
The home Yarberry shares with her daughter, Elizabeth, rests on five-acres
of land and included within the property is a five-stall horse barn
the two women essentially built themselves.
Two retired thoroughbreds Bleu and Elijan
reside there. Both were trained by Yarberry.
I bought Bleu for $5,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Sale in Lexington,
Yarberry said. My kids were in school at the time, and I got physically
sick afterward, wondering if Id paid too much for him.
But Bleu earned his keep. The 1,200-pound dark bay horse won $30,000
on the race track.
I had a great time with him, Yarberry said. He was
my Valium and Prozac. He kept me sane.
Elijan, on the other hand, cost Yarberry $30,000 and only managed to
win one race. His race track earnings amounted to $16,000.
Since Yarberry took up oil painting six years ago, both horses have
been the subject of her art.
In fact, a painting of Bleu charging down the stretch titled, A
Kentucky Drive, is what jump-started Yarberrys career as
I wanted a painting of him, Yarberry recalled while explaining
what initially prompted her to pick up a paint brush. Hes
gorgeous. Hes almost black with a white blaze. Hes a very
well-made horse. I took the painting in to get it framed, and another
lady came in and asked what gallery represented me.
While she publicly laughed off the strangers comment, Yarberry
went home and continued to paint.
A self-taught artist, Yarberry says she took one college-level art course
while a student at Kearney State College in Kearney, Neb.
I painted horses grazing in a field and the instructor said, Jan,
Ill give you an A, but dont do anymore of these Farmers
Almanacs in class. If the teacher had encouraged me to draw and
paint, would I have gotten into it sooner? I think so.
But throughout her life, Yarberry devoted what little spare time she
had available to drawing horses.
Thats always been my passion. The animal is the art and
you want to represent that power and that beauty.
So far, Yarberry says response to her paintings has been positive.
When people tell me they like my paintings, its like theyre
hugging me. Its a great high.
While grateful for the accolades, one of Yarberrys greatest achievements
as an artist came recently when her painting Derby Day 1939
was selected to hang in the renovated Twin Spires Club at Churchill
The painting depicts Yarberrys father, who died when she was just
a year old, aboard Shadytown in the post parade during the second race
at Churchill Downs on Derby Day in 1939.
An archival photograph was Yarberrys inspiration for the artwork.
Its a feeling of accomplishment, Yarberry said. My
family has always excelled at something. Im getting recognition
through my paintings. Im finding out where I excel.
Interior designer Linda Hubbuch of Hubbuch & Co. was responsible
for assembling much of the artwork that appears in the new areas of
Churchill Downs. She said whenever possible, she relied on local artists.
Shes very good at what she does, Hubbuch said of Yarberry.
And I think shes still developing her style.
As someone who routinely sets goals for herself, Yarberry is now in
the throes of designing a submission she hopes will be chosen as the
official 2006 Kentucky Derby poster.
That would be a sign that the horse racing world thinks I do a
good job of depicting a thoroughbred in motion.
Yarberry, as well as other artists participating in the Middletown Art
Festival, have each donated art items to a silent auction. In addition,
the day-long festival will feature live music, face painting, clowns
and food booths.
For more information on the festival, call About
Art Gallery at (502) 244-4848.
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