Art in the Garden Highlights Many Media in Augusta, Kentucky

Laura A. Hobson

Aeqai May 2022 Issue

“Art enables us to find ourselves and love ourselves at the same time,” said Thomas Merton, American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, poet and scholar (1915 – 1968). His words ring true with many art events and institutions in the Tri-State. 

A staple in the area art world is an annual event called Art in the Garden held in Augusta, Kentucky on the first Saturday in June from 10 am to 5 pm. Beth Laskey moved to Augusta in 1999 and became president of the Augusta Art Guild which sponsors Art in the Garden, of which she is co-chair along with Leah Frederick. The first year of the show was 2000. In 2020, due to COVID, the event was a complete washout. Last year, the guild held the art show.

Art in the Garden is a juried art show with an intimate feel and easy to navigate. Judges have an art background, but are anonymous and have no affiliation with AAG or any neighboring art guild. 

“It’s a community event with one of the biggest days for retail,” Laskey said. There are 2,500 to 3,000 people who attend this event every year.

Frederick said, “Art in the Garden also offers $500 Best in Show Awards for 2-D and 3-D work. This year, we’re also offering ‘The Marilyn’ in honor of lifetime member and longtime Art in the Garden chair Marilyn Lustik. This award will be given to the most creative 2-D or 3-D botanical representation.”

Some of the 63 exhibitors this year include Matt Meyung, Anne Carole Designs, Elizabeth Cline, One of a Chime, Apple Hill Arts, Silhouette Studio, and Gallery of Dixie. Exhibitors come from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The show includes all visual media including painting, ceramics, leather, wood, fiber art and jewelry. 

In addition to art, there is music. At noon musicians in folk, bluegrass and dulcimer traditions will jam in three separate tents. Members of the Queen City Balladeers, Northern Kentucky University Unplugged, Hills of Kentucky Dulcimer, and Northern Kentucky Bluegrass Association participate, but sessions are open to other musicians.

Augusta Art Guild is a community-based non-profit 501©3 organization of artists and those who support the arts. They believe there are many visual, emotional and educational experiences that can only be perceived through the arts.

“The guild’s primary goal is to bring a deeper appreciation of the arts to the area. It gives back to the community through exhibits, events and sponsored performances,” according to the guild’s literature. Each year, the guild awards scholarships to deserving Bracken County students in both art and music. These include the Judy Federer Art Scholarship, Bobby Moloney Music Scholarship and the Perennial Bloom Award.  

Judy Federer (1937 – 2007), a lifelong resident of Augusta, encouraged the creation of the guild. Along with Judy, Mea Dewers (1932 – 2010) brought additional energy and direction to the guild’s beginnings. As the guild grew, a permanent location in the historic river town of Augusta was established at 116 Main Street, the website indicates. 

The guild meets the first Tuesday of the month to discuss upcoming events, business details and goals. Everyone is welcome. Other officers are Cindy Hopping, vice president, Pamela Adams, secretary, Laurie Kelsch, treasurer, Carmen Estrada, gallery director, and arts-in-school coordinator, Adelia Zeidler.

The guild sponsors other activities as well. A gallery is open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm April through December. It is always interested in displaying the work of new and up-and-coming artists. In addition, it hosts a number of community events, visual arts programs, workshops and classes. Volunteers provide an hour of arts and crafts for students (grades 4 – 7) who otherwise would not have art classes. There is cultural arts outreach augmented by a White Christmas parade with floats. Located 40 miles east of Cincinnati, Ohio and 70 miles north of Lexington, Kentucky, Augusta is a small and charming community nationally recognized as one of the best river towns in the United States (CNN.com, 20 Jul 2012). 

With a waterfront that has changed little over the past few centuries, the river is the heart of Augusta. The Augusta ferry Jenny Ann brings cars and people across the Ohio River every day. During Art in the Garden, traveling on the ferry presents a picturesque view of Augusta. The 18th and 19th century houses lining Riverside Drive occupy prize vantage points from which to enjoy the vista. Walking along Riverside Drive, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, art is truly in the garden when a visitor arrives at this unique venue.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 4 and take a leisurely drive to Augusta to enjoy Art in the Garden. 

For more information, visit www.augustaartguild.com.