Mellwood: A Wonderland of Entertainment

Artist studios and specialty stores go on and on in a kaleidoscope of color, their repeating pattern itself an artistic masterpiece. The smorgasbord of creativity is an art lover’s dream, the expansive rooms an event planner’s heaven.

Less than 15 years ago, no one could have guessed what this former meat packing facility would become.

On 42 acres at 1860 Mellwood Ave., the Mellwood Art & Entertainment Center fills 360,000 square feet with something for everyone. It’s no wonder LEO Weekly named the center Louisville’s “best place to have an event/party” the past two years.

DSC_0101If by chance you’re entertaining plans of marriage, then Friday, Jan. 27 will be a perfect time to visit. The Louisville Wedding Network will put on its bi-annual wedding show from 5-8 p.m. Cake decorators, DJs, wedding planners, honeymoon arrangers, invitation designers will be on hand – in all, more than 40 vendors.

The Frankfort Avenue Trolley Hop will run Friday night as well, and the center’s always-free parking will be available for trolley riders. Mellwood’s vendors will stay open until 9 that night.

Leasing and marketing director Scooter Davidson has worked at Mellwood since opening day in 2003. “What’s most rewarding is seeing people come here and have a good time,” she said.

More than 200 artists rent space at Mellwood. Oil, clay, fabric, wood – the array of media is mesmerizing.

And it doesn’t stop with art studios and event spaces. Mellwood is also home to PURE Fitness Training, Fleur-De-Lis Academy of Ballet, and even Hope Culture Church.

DSC_0105Le Gallo Rosso, an Italian-inspired bistro previously situated in the Highlands, reopened at Mellwood about two weeks ago. “It’s been absolutely jam packed,” Davidson said.

On the lower level, Mellwood Antiques & Interiors fills more than 45,000 square feet with collectibles and home furnishings from more than 125 dealers.

The expansive brick building dates to 1904. The event rooms boast a delightfully distressed look, evoking the building’s industrial past. The Monet Room seats about 160 guests, the Picasso Room up to 320. And with 12,500 square feet and an adjacent courtyard, the Van Gogh can accommodate large weddings, proms and galas.

Mellwood’s strong relationships with local decorators and planners allow the center to put events together on short notice. “We can turn on a dime,” Davidson said.

When you rent a room at Mellwood, it’s yours from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. And you get the freedom to make it your own.

“We have open policies for alcohol and food,” Davidson said. “We don’t make you use any particular caterer.”

DSC_0107If you can’t make it to Friday’s event, more events are on the calendar. The center will host a children’s consignment sale from Feb. 23-March 1, with 40-50 vendors selling gently used clothing, toys and other items for kids.

And Mellwood is already preparing for its annual September art fair, which drew more than 50,000 patrons last year. “We have music and food, and it’s two great days,” Davidson said.

Back when John and Todd Clark purchased the facility from Fischer Meat Packing Company they planned to turn it into a space for local artists. It’s become that, and a whole lot more.

“It was extremely successful from day one,” Davidson said. “We had a waiting list of artists to get in here. We couldn’t build the studios fast enough.”

Across from the main building, Mellwood plans to develop a large vacant building into a fourth event space. “The larger rooms are really in demand,” Davidson said.

And in three years or so, Mellwood’s owners plan to add some apartments on the adjoining property.

“We are always building something new,” Davidson said. VT

You can view Mellwood’s event rooms Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Most vendors open Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call 502.895.3650 or visit www.mellwoodartcenter.com.