Arts on the Green
Oldham County’s popular art show returns at a new venue
Scratchboard artist Conroy’s work is detailed, realistic
CRESTWOOD, Ky. (June 2021) – The very minute artist Kathy Conroy experimented with the medium of scratchboard, she knew she was hooked. When combined with her favorite subject matter, wildlife, the result is a stunning display of realism that almost leaps off of the canvas.
Her work appeals to the senses – one can almost touch the soft fur of her more recent work of a tiger, or watch a sea turtle glide effortlessly through the water and right off of the canvas in another.
“I like to create detailed artwork and prefer realism,” said Conroy, 65.
The medium she uses is scratchboard, which “lends itself well for this as I use a scalpel blade to draw my images. Each part of it is created using tiny scratches.”
Occasionally, Conroy paints in gouache and watercolor but prefers scratchboard. “It is my main focus as I have a goal of applying for Master Scratchboard Artist with the International Society of Scratchboard artists this year or next.”
Conroy has been an artist for most of her life and started drawing when she was about 5 years old. As she matured, she experimented with different mediums including water colors, oils, pastels and acrylics.
Henry County, Ky., artist Kathy Conroy displays a piece featuring a tiger. She combines her love for scratchboard art method with wildlife and paints many animals.
Conroy will be one of 120 artists participating in this year’s Arts on the Green. This free juried fine art event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 12-13 at The Maples Park in Crestwood, Ky.
In 1998, at the age of 45, Conroy decided to go back to college and earned a degree in Graphics Design from the Art Institute of Cincinnati. “The first three months of classes, we were introduced to different types of medium: i.e. gouache, scratchboard, portrait drawing in graphite. Scratchboard was my favorite medium that I learned those first three months.”
Having grown up in Colorado and Massachusetts, Conroy moved to Kentucky in her early 20s. She and her husband lived in Georgetown, Ky., for 26 years where she worked for Toyota until she retired.
Early in her career she worked as a graphic designer for a major horse industry firm. As she continued to create her artwork on the side while holding down other jobs, Conroy began attending art shows and exhibits. When she started receiving commissions for various subject matters ranging from pet portraits to human portraits, she decided to retire early and start a full-time Fine Art business.
“Wildlife of all kinds is my favorite subject matter,” she said. Conroy sees plenty of it from her home in rural Henry County, Ky. She often sets up a blind “so I can shoot photos of the water birds that land in and around the pond. We get many Great Blue Herons, Green Herons and at times, turkeys.”
In an effort to bring realism to her work, she went to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom two years ago and spent many hours photographing the animals of Africa. “I have created several pieces using photos taken there. Nature in general is my inspiration.
Working full time now as an artist, Conroy can usually be found in her studio six days a week, eight to 10 hours a day. “I love every minute of it,” she said.
She has participated in Arts on the Green for five years after being “told by a fellow artist that it was a good show for all mediums. I have always been the only scratchboard artist there so I think it’s a good show for me because of that.”
The show has always been held on the Oldham County Courthouse lawn in La Grange, but organizers knew two years ago they would need to find a new temporary location when renovation of the courthouse began. Nancy Daneshmand, director for Arts on the Green, said that “as soon as the 2019 show was over, we were looking for a new location.”
The Arts Association of Oldham County is responsible for organizing the show. The group found a new location for 2020 at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, but the show was ultimately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and not being able to predict an attendance size that would be safe for the venue and follow CDC guidelines.
“The Maples Park was not even a consideration at that time,” said Daneshmand, because the park was not completed. When the site did become available for this year’s show, the organization decided to hold the show there for one year “and see how it goes.”
All artists and attendees will be required to wear masks, and social distancing will be required unless the current state mandates have been repealed or amended by event time, she said. Signage for COVID-19 safety precautions will be placed in prominent areas around the park and show area.
“Because of social distancing, we are planning for 120 booths,” Daneshmand said. “This keeps three feet of space in between them. The Maples Park, without social distancing restrictions, will allow for up to 140-plus booths.”
The most current recommendations, including mask requirements, stated by the county health department and state will be followed. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed in strategic areas as well as hand-washing stations. “We have plans to count the attendance, and if it goes over 1,000 at any one time, we will operate on a one-in and one-out basis.”
She said there will be an even mix of returning and new artists to the show. “We had offered the opportunity to the invited artists from our canceled 2020 event to either have their fees rolled over to this year, so that they could simply re-apply and be confirmed for 2021, or they could receive a refund of their fees and re-apply during an early application period – where they would not need to go through the jury process but simply pay their booth fees for 2021”
Before opening up to new applications on Dec. 1, 2020, “we already had 50 percent of the booths confirmed by the previous year’s invited artists,” she said. “As our application deadline closed on April 30, 2021, we had received over 70 more.” Every year there is a waiting list for artists wanting to participate.
Daneshmand said, “The independent artists have had a very rough time of it during quarantine. They either had to be resigned to having no shows at all, or they had to find other ways to sell their artwork, such as opening their own online websites or using Etsy. I am sure it was a difficult time for them all and my heart truly goes out to them.”
A few changes were made to the show to avoid over-crowding. There will be no children’s art supplies area or live music. West Six Brewing, one of the sponsors of the show, will be onsite, and organizers are trying to get additional food and drink vendors.
Changes were also made to the award structure this year for financial reasons, and the awards given out will be comparable to what other shows of a similar size are currently giving. Award ribbons will be presented in each first, second and third place category. Best of Show will receive an award ribbon, $300 cash prize and a free booth space for the 2022 show. The Best of Show winner will also be invited to be the Featured Artist at the 2022 show. “As the featured artist, their winning art piece is displayed in promotions, on our website, in various media and at venues,” Daneshmand said.
Show organizers are asking visitors to enter The Maples Park from Hwy 22 (6826 W. Hwy. 22) and turn onto Railroad Avenue, then into the park. It is not recommended that visitors enter the park from Hwy. 146. Offsite parking is also available at Crestwood Elementary School.
Please note that the Maples Park entrance located on Hwy. 22 is for handicap parking and attendee drop-off only. Directional signs will be posted, and there will be some on-site parking.
• For more information visit www.aaooc.org or call (502) 222-3822.
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