By Larry W. Moore,
Like many good things, this one began by chance, back in early 2005. My wife Jane Chancellor Moore and I had recently begun managing an art gallery off the lobby of the Kentucky Employees Credit Union, 100 Moore Drive, in Frankfort.
My brother Ross Moore was at that time an educator with the Kentucky Derby Museum, and one of his pleasant duties was coordinating the museum’s annual show of Derby-themed student artwork from schools in Jefferson County. During a family get-together, Ross mentioned it was a shame the students’ work was only seen for a short time and in one place at the museum, and Jane and I immediately offered to exhibit a selection of artwork in our new gallery. We traveled to Louisville the next week to visit the museum exhibition, where Jane picked out her favorite pieces — her first experience planning an art show.
So began the annual tradition of “Art in the Winner’s Circle,” an exhibition of student Kentucky Derby related art that has become the perennial favorite show in the space now named for its late curator, the Jane Chancellor Moore Gallery, where I now serve as the curator. The first year we thought it was going to be a one-off event, something we did on the fly and without anyone’s official blessing.
But, we repeated the show for another year or two, until Ross left the museum to move to San Diego. Again, we thought it was finished after that, but other museum staff picked up where Ross left off and continued to work with us. Thanks to current museum and exhibition coordinator Heather Hill, the Frankfort offshoot at our gallery is an official outreach of the show they put on at the museum.
The process begins early each year, when the Derby Museum installs their exhibition, “Horsing Around with Art: A Student’s View of the Sport of Kings.” Featuring over 200 works from students ranging from first grade through high school, submitted from art programs in Jefferson County public, private and parochial schools, this show usually runs from mid-January to late February.
Commenting on this show and the relationship of the museum and gallery, Heather Hill said, “the amount of artistic talent within the school systems of Jefferson County amazes me each year. The time and hard work that these students put into their pieces really shows. Being able to have their artwork exhibited for a second time at the Jane Chancellor Moore Gallery is a great opportunity for a young, budding artist.”
Since Jane’s death in 2010, KECU president John Graham now accompanies me to the Derby Museum to make our selection of the two dozen or so pieces that will travel to Frankfort. He is happy to keep the tradition going.
“KECU is honored to work with Larry and the Kentucky Derby Museum on this outstanding exhibit every year,” he said. “Our members look forward to the fantastic art and creativity shown by students in grades first through 12th. This show is always very bright and fun.”
Once installed in the gallery, the show runs through Derby Day. During that time, gallery visitors are invited to “bet” on their favorite work of art. The winning artist receives $100 from KECU, and that artist’s teacher also receives $100 from KECU for art supplies.
This show is always the most fun part of managing the gallery. John and I have a great time selecting the artwork, and then I have the challenge of installing it. At the museum the art is grouped by grade level, but at the gallery, I treat this like any other art show, and I mix and match up the works that I think look best together.
This means a first grade piece may be hanging by a senior high school work, and the interplay between them is always interesting. I know from the comments we received that this is everyone’s favorite show of the year, especially the KECU staff who get to see it every day.
This was also Jane’s favorite show, which makes it all the more special. The Kentucky Derby was a big part of her family’s life — her father had box seats and attended 49 consecutive Derbies — so it’s only fitting that we are continuing this tradition in the gallery that the credit union so graciously named for her after she died.
Plus, I feel like it’s also part of my family tradition as well, since it all began thanks to my brother. So, from our family to our Frankfort community, we’re pleased to welcome you to the gallery for another year of wonderful student art.
Larry Moore is the curator of The Jane Chancellor Moore Gallery.