By Janice Carter Levitch
Pride and tradition are just a couple of characteristics we think of when mentioning the Kentucky Derby Festival. There are a number of festival events going on in the weeks leading up to the first Saturday in May that takes place at Churchill Downs. Dazzling our town with fun and excitement, imagine the thrill you would experience if you were the artist selected to design the Kentucky Derby Festival Poster. Out of the gate, much like a jockey poised on a magnificent thoroughbred anxious to begin a race, one could only hope to be the crowd favorite. Odds are in the favor of this year’s artist to be that crowd favorite with not one but two artists creating a “Daily Double.”
Meet the twins, not to be confused with the “Twin Spires,” but the two artists selected to create the art for this year’s poster. Unless you’ve had blinders on, I would bet you’re already familiar with local artist, Jeaneen Barnhart, and her twin sister, Doreen Barnhart Dehart. These two are also known as the “Tipsy Twins” as their talents spill over into the wine reviews they provide on Facebook. Wines of all varietals and cost are reviewed with an honest palate and a flair for fun. Born out of their fondness for wine, they have attracted more than just your standard following. It could be better described in terms of wine bottle sizes as a “double magnum.” Their lightheartedness allows their following to glimpse inside their artistic world and appreciate how they pair wine and art so effortlessly.
This duo of creativity work in tandem and yet each has their own individuality when it comes to the creative process. Doreen takes a strong grip on the reins of the graphic design aspect of projects. Make no mistake, she keeps her trained eye on each project with standards for quality control that keeps any of her work from being released until it’s carefully groomed. And that’s exactly what helps her hit a steady stride with this year’s design, which includes a Fleur de lys mark representing our community and commemorating the events that lead up to the Kentucky Derby. The Fleur de lys is a symbol of French royalty used by King Louis XVI of France. He aided Americans during the Revolutionary War, and Louisville was named after and in honor of him. Doreen’s Fleur de lys mark has a strong silhouette, but as you take a much closer look you discover the hidden treasures within that silhouette. Those treasures are a Pegasus, The Belle of Louisville, hot air balloons, runners, city bridges, bourbon and several more that are beautifully contained within the Fleur de lys.
The other half of this duo is Jeaneen, who is known for her artistic talent that has created the “Spirit of Equine” series. This year’s poster design is a continuation of that series, yet stands apart with its own strength and grandness. The Pegasus is defined as a mythical winged divine stallion, and one of the most recognized creatures in Greek mythology. The Pegasus Jeaneen created is indeed divine. It towers over the Fleur de lys mark on the poster with its head in a regal nod as a salutation, a salute of honor and respect. Part of Jeaneen’s creative process is to work freehand with oil pastels, allowing creative inspiration to arrive without trying to conjure it up. That inspiration shows refinement and progression as an artist in the Kentucky Derby Festival poster. The sense of design shows restraint and reflects the passion involved, which results in perfection without appearing to be overworked.
As they continue working on one of the most spirited works of art they have ever collaborated on, their biggest challenge is working toward the finish line – which can be defined as making sure everyone is happy. So, as we come down the stretch to the official unveiling of the 2018 Kentucky Derby Festival poster, I can hear the soft roar of the crowd increase as they cheer on the winners crossing the finish line. Jeaneen and Doreen dominate the winner’s circle with their artful creation of the majestic Pegasus wrapped in a blanket of turquoise, muted orange and festive spring tones creating an “angle of incidence” or “straight on” nod to the Fleur de lys mark placed below it on the poster design. Traditionally used to represent French royalty, the Fleur de lys is said to signify perfection, light and life. All these qualities and more are present within the artistic talents of Jeaneen and Doreen. Needless to say, this year’s poster is “in the money” and a winner “across the board.” VT