By Wesley Kerrick
Photo by Tim Valentino
Arriving at the Mellwood Art & Entertainment Center less than two years ago, Bridget Clark hit the ground running with big ideas and contagious zeal. In a few weeks, the freshly minted creative director will oversee her first September Art Fair.
The fair is an annual tradition at Mellwood, the landmark art, shopping and dining complex at 1860 Mellwood Avenue. It’s slated for September 9 and 10 this year, running from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For Clark, the show brings an opportunity to put her sweeping vision into tangible action.
“I have a feeling,” she says, “it’ll be very different than what it has been in the past.”
Clark was involved in last year’s fair but took a supporting role because she was so new to Mellwood at the time. To the New York City transplant, it seemed like visitors were enjoying themselves, but she noted that many of them were coming just to purchase something.
“I think it can be more than that,” she says. “And I think that the art fair, and Mellwood itself, should be somewhere that people come to exist, and not cycle through.”
Clark envisions Mellwood as “a community-based getting-together of the minds,” a place where you’d be happy spending the whole day, moving perhaps from a fitness routine to a café to an art class, and then doing a little shopping.
“It should be a synchronicity of all of the businesses here, and I think the art fair should kind of spearhead that idea.”
So, how does that vision take shape when it comes to the art fair? It’s a matter of making it more than art. The art will be there, to be sure—95 artists, in fact, from near and far, showing and selling their work inside and outside the building. But going along with that, the music, food and activities will be plentiful.
There will also be activities for children Clark says, “Instead of feeling like they’re being dragged around looking at things, they get to interact and use their brains.”
One such activity will be the local “bubble man.”
“I’m actually really excited for that,” Clark says with a smile.
Performers will include local rock band Frog Man, vocal instructor MM Voice, the Louisville Opera and Fleur-De-Lis Academy of Ballet. Among the food vendors will be Kentucky Smoked BBQ, O’shea’s Irish Pub, and Against the Grain Brewery & Restaurant—plus Mellwood’s own Danny Mac’s Pizza.
Another part of the strategy is to give Mellwood’s permanent tenants more prominent placement to display and sell their art during the fair.
All in all, nearly every imaginable art media will be represented during those two days. Along with paintings and drawings, you’ll find jewelry, woodworking, weaving and knitting.
When it’s all said and done, Clark will know she’s hit the target if people have come to the fair and just enjoyed themselves. The atmosphere at Mellwood, as she sees it, is the polar opposite of that pompous art gallery or museum you might’ve visited in another city.Mellwood is a place to expose yourself to a broad array of art and to meet the artists. It’s a place to people watch, make friends and most importantly, just to be. VT
Mellwood Art & Entertainment Center
1860 Mellwood Ave.
September Art Fair: September 9 & 10