Oldham Arts Studio Tour

New driving tour debuts
with goal of promoting local artists

La Grange’s Ellis will entertain visitors
at her Main Street studio

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(September 2006) – It has been Valerie Timmons Ellis’ dream for some time to open an art gallery. Luckily for Oldham Countians, she chose La Grange, Ky., for the location.
Since the downtown La Grange area has been revitalized over the last few years, Ellis said her dream seemed to fit right in with all the progress taking place.

Valerie Timmons-Ellis

Photo by Don Ward

Valerie Timmons-Ellis poses with some of
her artwork in her studio in downtown
La Grange. She is among 70 artists
participating in the tour.

She opened Galerie Timon in April 2006 at 125 E. Main St. Since then, she has taken in works to display by other artists from Oldham and Henry Counties and Louisville.
Ellis, 49, is a painter and photographer who provides a wide scope of different types of artwork in her gallery. She specializes in portraiture and has also dabbled in oil painting. “I’ve not really settled on a style,” said Ellis, whose artwork ranges from realistic to abstract.
She received her first camera, a Polaroid Swinger, for her 11th birthday but has had no formal photography training.
Ellis took group-painting lessons 10 years ago, which reinvigorated her photography skills. She sometimes combines the two art forms in her hand-colored photographs.
Ellis has decided to participate in the Original Oldham Studio Tour and Art Sale on Sept. 16-17. This unique new driving tour is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The tour features 32 studios and 70 artists.
The idea began when Oldham County artist Kate Fisher was looking for a way to promote the arts in Oldham County and came across an event in North Carolina that was too good not to model an event after in Oldham County. She devised a way to showcase artists and their works, while donating to a charitable cause.
For the past 15 years, Chatham County, N.C., has played host to a similar driving studio tour. “This was such an attractive event,” said Fisher, who custom hand-paints interior fabrics. She saw no reason why this same idea would not work in Oldham County.
Each stop along the tour will be an artists’ home or neighboring home that may have more space to display artwork.
Additional artists may gather at some locations. Fisher will have four at her home and one studio will feature up to nine artists, she said.
Timmons will also have accompanying artists at her gallery to display paintings, photos and woodturned items. All items are for sale. There are no jury or booth fees, nor do artists have to worry with constructing and filling a 10x10-foot booth space or demonstrating constantly throughout the day.
“It’s just a fabulous opportunity for exposure and sales,” said Ellis. “I hope it brings people to downtown La Grange who have not been here in a while or not at all. It’s good for La Grange and the county.”

Oldham County Arts Studio Tour

Sept. 16-17
Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday; Noon – 6 p.m. Sunday.
Tour Show & Preview Party: Join the artists for a tour kickoff party Friday, Sept. 15, at Will Crawford’s historic Westport, Ky., home, 6805 Main St. An auction is to be held to showcase the artists, help fund the event, raise money for charity. Tickets $75 and includes food. To reserve, call (502) 222-6553 or Kate Fisher at (502) 222-9439.

Performing arts are definitely in Ellis’ blood. She is also a classically trained signer. Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Western Kentucky University and a J.D. from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. She accepts commissioned and non-commissioned projects.
In addition to relying on the North Carolina event as a model, Fisher and the participating artists also took note of a studio tour held in Bowling Green, Ky., for the past eight years. Organizers of this event have been extremely helpful in planning the Oldham County tour, said Fisher.
The Oldham County Tourism Commission has awarded a $10,475 grant to assist in initiating what organizers hope will become an annual event.
This funding enabled organizers to create and print a brochure. The Tourism Commission required regional advertising before awarding money.
Oldham County Tourism Commission Director Keli Quinn said the commission “provided funding because they see it as an event that will attract people not only from Oldham County, but the entire region.” The commission’s goal is to bring people into Oldham County, where they can choose to spend the night and eat at local restaurants.
“This type of weekend event makes this more likely to happen,” said Quinn. Tourism is funded through a hotel-motel tax, so the more tourists there are staying overnight in Oldham County, the more money there is available through the Tourism Commission to fund such events.
A silent auction will be held the previous evening at a Preview Party for patrons and artists. Cost is $75 per person and includes refreshments at Westport resident Will Crawford’s historic home.
Artists were asked to donate items for the auction. Proceeds will go to two beneficiaries, said Fisher. Organizers hope to provide gifts to F.E.A.T. (Families for Effective Autism Treatment) and to an Oldham County High School senior who chooses to pursue a career in the arts by attending an arts school or college.
Fisher said she began calling artists in January to organize this event. She said the best thing about this tour is that “it is so artist friendly.”

• For more information, contact Kate Fisher at (502) 222-9439 or visit: www.westportgeneralstore.com.

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