St. James Court Art Show: It’s that time of year again


It’s pretty busy this year in Louisville: 750 artists from all over the country, live music and Shakespeare in Central Park.

And, since we’re right in the middle of it, I can tell you there are tons of people walking in front of my house. I will say thought that the local media outlets don’t seem to know where the show is. I’ve seen a couple of stories referring to the St. James Court Art Show in the Highlands. Nope, that’s wrong. It is and always has been in Old Louisville centered on St. James Court (hence the name). You’d think the people who report on the city would know little intricacies like that, right?

Louisville letdown: Drowning the St. James Court Art Show

I traveled from Washington to Louisville to participate in the three-day St. James Court Art Show. Things were pretty odd in Washington the past couple of weeks (A mass shooting, a psychotic driver, a human torch on the Mall, and the Republican shutdown of the government), so I wanted to get away to do something fun.


The deluge before the flood

And then:

Organizers shut down the St. James Court Art Show an hour early on Saturday and called off today’s final day because of heavy rain and the threat of thundershowers — cutting the popular event short for the first time in 57 years.

“You have to think about safety. Lightning and metal poles don’t mix,” said Bette Kennedy, volunteer coordinator for the show. “It’s just really, really sad.”

The show was one of at least three local events washed out by the rain. Also canceled was the Hosparus Lunar 5K, which had been scheduled to take place Saturday evening starting at the New Albany (Ind.) Riverfront Amphitheater, and the Big Rock Jazz and Blues Fest, which had been scheduled for today in Cherokee Park.

Unbelievable. But it rained all day Sunday. Parts of Louisville were flooded and at least a dozen people had to be rescued from the water. And it was totally soaked around my house, where some of the art show takes place.

And it really sucked for the artists. They came from all over the country because the show draws hundreds of thousands of people during the three-day period. More than 700 booths were set up, and occupied, with all kinds of art: painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, jewelry.

Tile painters, who were set up in front of my house, had driven all the way from New Mexico. Jade sculptors, who were also located in front of my house, were about to break down their tent when a last minute buyer showed up. And hour later, they had sold $5,000 worth of jewelry. Can you imagine how much more they would have made if they had another day to work with?

What a letdown. I wanted to hear the artists’ stories and my door was open to anyone who wanted to come in (and a bunch did). Instead, I was stuck indoors on Sunday, no art show outside.

St. James Court Art Show: Day 3

The St. James Court Art Show in Louisville is winding down. I’m sitting on my front porch watching the vendors begin to break down their tents and load up their vans and trucks to head out of town.

Having been here for the past three days, and having lived here for the past three art shows, I’m sure the attendance set a record.

In previous years, I could walk around the show — which extends through Belgravia and St. James Courts and covers from Sixth Street on the west to Third Street on the east and Hill Street on the South and Central Park on the north — with no problem.

It wasn’t that easy this year. Here’s a Sunday view of Fourth Street at Magnolia heading south:

This is not how Fourth Street usually looks. If you see two people walking down the street on a weekend, that’s usually a lot of people. And even though the Sunday view looks crowded, on Saturday, it took forever to walk down this street. You either got distracted, looking at all the offerings, or you were slowed by others who were distracted.

And art works weren’t the only distactions:

These food booths aren’t normally on the south end of Central Park. but they were this week. Good thing, too. I don’t think I can handle more than one corn dog a year.

The local newspaper says a combination of perfect weather and early Christmas shopping  resulted in the huge crowd:

Chilly autumn air and generous sunshine were the perfect combination to bring what the sponsors said might be record crowds this weekend to the St. James Court Art Show.

“There’s no way to take attendance, but Friday was huge and (Saturday) was just as packed,” said Connie Light, chairwoman of the Belgravia Court section of the show. It is one of five Old Louisville-based neighborhood associations sponsoring the 56th St. James show centered south of Central Park.

Light said the organizers were delighted that so many of the exhibitors had ample sales last year, when many people were still feeling the effects of the recession.

“We had several vendors who said this Friday was the best day they ever had” at the show, she said.

I was planning to be frugal and not by much, if any art. But a surprise tax refund arrived in the mail from the District of Columbia on Wednesday. That refund doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s a good thing the show is over, because I’m going broke. I mean, who knew I needed a candle holder shaped like people?

St. James Court Art Show

The 56th annual St. James Court Art Show is taking place today through Sunday in Louisville. Here’s the view from my front porch:

And here’s another one:

There is a steady parade of people, far more than what I saw last year. And this is supposed to be the slow day.

Here’s a brief description:

The St. James Court Art Show® is a juried fine arts and fine crafts show that hosts an impressive 750 artists from North America. Held in the heart of historic Old Louisville among the country’s largest collection of Victorian homes, the St. James Court Art Show® has for over five decades provided our neighborhood, city and state with a rich cultural and artistic legacy.

It really must be fancy. It has that little “R” with the circle around it.

As I have during the past couple of years, I helped some of the artists set up their tents. Lots of familiar faces. And on Sunday, I’ll help them take their tents down. I’ll plan to walk around the whole show today. Maybe pick up a few items along the way. That is, if I can get through the teeming masses.

There are two annual events in Louisville that draw huge crowds. I will see more people pass in front of my house than the number of people who attend the Kentucky Derby. That’s how big this is.

At home at the art show

Today is the final day of the St. James Court Art Show in Louisville. It’s pretty convenient for me, because it’s taking place right outside my door. Over the course of the three day show, it’s estimated that 300,000 people will wander through the Old Louisville neighborhood, viewing the work of 750 artists that covers an area from Third Street to Sixth Street (east to west) and Magnolia Street to Hill Street (north to south).

On my front porch alone, I’m able to see textiles, photography, wooden toys, jade jewelry, glass flowers and elaborate hair pins. We’ve already exceeded the budget for art purchases (not that we’ve had a lot of money to devote to art).

And the people just keep coming. In addition to the art, our house seems to be drawing a lot of interest. People are stopping on the sidewalk and photographing it.

We’ve had a number of former residents come by to tell us the house’s history. So far, three people have stopped by and said, “Did you know Maria Callas once sang from your balcony?” “Did you know Marsha Norman and Kathy Bates used to live here?” And my favorite, “You remember the father from ‘Family Ties?’ He used to live here.”

Yes, we’ve heard the stories. One day, I’ll send a fan letter to Marsha Norman and Kathy Bates and Alex Keaton’s dad to find out if the plumbing was as bad then as it is now.

In the meantime, I’ll circulate around some more for the final day, and get some culture.