Where are my favorite destinations for the arts? Covering art and travel for a living, I’m fortunate to hit the road on average twice a month to fairs, festivals and exhibitions around the country. Of course, New York is unrivaled in arts and culture. Being passionate about Native American art, Santa Fe, the epicenter of Native American art, is a favorite. So is New Orleans.
Louisville has been one of my favorite places to visit for over a decade, dating back to when I was covering college football. I said then, to general astonishment, Louisville was my favorite college town in America. I stand by that. Now that I cover art and culture, I’ve found it to be a wonderful getaway for those reasons as well.
The Speed Art Museum in Louisville is exceptional. It co-owns Amy Sherald’s portrait of Breonna Taylor. The Muhammed Ali Center there features spectacular sketches of the boxer by Leroy Nieman. Black history is everywhere in Louisville. So is bourbon, one of the many craft specialties the area is known for.
And events. Louisville, with its favorable climate – not too hot, not too cold – is a great event city. Ever heard of the Kentucky Derby?
These art events in Fall of 2023 are a great introduction, or reintroduction, to one of my favorite places, Louisville.
Fall 2023 Louisville Art Events
Big Four Arts Festival | September 9 & 10
The 7th annual Big Four Bridge Arts Festival will be held on Waterfront Park’s Big Four Lawn at the base of the popular Big Four Walking Bridge. Over 150 juried artists will set up shop along the Ohio River during the two-day event, featuring paintings, jewelry, sculptures, photography, and live music.
Tickets for the event are just $5 and can be purchased online or at the entrance to the festival. (There’s another thing I love about Louisville, you can visit and not go broke.)
Paristown Art Festival | September 29 & 30 | FREE
The first-ever Paristown Art Festival will take over Brent Street and Christy’s Garden and feature dozens of painters, photographers, jewelry-makers, designers, and wood artisans at the newly revitalized Paristown Arts District. Enjoy dining and cocktails at The Village Market Food Hall or The Café throughout the weekend, and a soft-opening concert on Friday night.
Louisville Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular | October 3-31
Returning to Louisville’s Iroquois Park, artists will work for overtime to hand-carve pumpkins throughout the month of October for this annual Halloween event. Visitors can stroll along a 1/3-mile path to enjoy over 5,000 of the carved pumpkins illuminated every evening as a part of the nightly art show.
St. James Court Art Show | October 6-8 | FREE
Recently named the #1 “Best Fine Art and Design Show” by Sunshine Artist Magazine, the St. James Court Art Show is celebrating its 67th anniversary in 2023. The juried fine art and contemporary crafts show brings over 600 artists to the city every first full weekend in October.
The event spans 4 square blocks and is set in the Old Louisville neighborhood, home to the country’s most extensive collection of Victorian-era homes.
The Louisville UnFair | October 6-8 | FREE
Founded in 1997 and taking place at the Magnolia Bar & Grill, the annual UnFair Art Show is an institution in Old Louisville that brings together thousands of art lovers to imbibe on vast quantities of beer and spirits all while music and creativity fills the air.
Traditionally, the Unfair embraces vice and subversiveness. It is an art show, for locals by locals that strives to exemplify Louisville culture during the behemoth St. James Court Art Show a block up the street. All art is local, affordable and ready-to-buy.
Via Colori Street Painting Festival | October 21-22 | FREE
Kentucky’s largest street painting festival will bring over 100 artists to Louisville’s waterfront with the intent of making artistic masterpieces on a large scale, directly on the sidewalks of the popular Waterfront Park.
Live music, vendors, family-friendly activities, bounce houses, a food court, cosplayers, and of course, street art will be on display.
The Underground Railroad: The Still Family & Charles Nalle | August 31 – November 11
Hosted by Southern Indiana’s Carnegie Center for Art & History, this exhibit by Mark Priest centers around the story of the Still Family’s attempts at freedom and the impossible choice to leave loved ones behind. Priest’s work portrays actual accounts of the perilous Underground Railroad and vividly depicts the mental, emotional, and physical prowess needed to escape enslavement and reunite a family.
Stories Retold: American Art from the Princeton University Art Museum | September 29 – January 7, 2024
Coming to the Speed Art Museum in Old Louisville, nearly one hundred works spanning four centuries of American art history will be showcased in a wide-ranging exhibition that examines how the meanings of objects change over time, and in different contexts.Public art