Piecing Together The History Of Derby

Long before the first Saturday in May, the public receives a preview of the upcoming Derby with a highly-anticipated feature depicting the Run for the Roses.

The Official 2013 Kentucky Derby commemorative poster, published by Clare Jett’s own JettStream Productions company, is a cherished component of the annual horse race held off Central Avenue. On Nov. 14, Churchill Downs, the Galt House Hotel and JettStream Productions joined together to reveal the beautifully constructed artwork, created this year by internationally renowned artist Derek Gores.

Using his unique “torn paper” technique, Gores crafted an intricate depiction of the Kentucky Derby, from the ponies to the betting and high-fashion track attire.

Nearly two decades ago, Gores began utilizing the torn paper medium to create visually compelling collages. “I’ve always painted and drawn, and using collage is a cool way to kind of work faster and incorporate other meaningful things in the art,” said Gores, a New York native who resides in Melbourne, Fla.

Gores has garnered national attention for his collage portrait series, in which he recycles found materials such as magazines, labels, digital textures, typography and other man-made elements. A successful commercial designer and illustrator for 15 years, Gores has been commissioned by ESPN, Lucasfilm, NASCAR, Adidas, Madonna, Harley Davidson, the National Football League and JCPenney.

The 2013 Official Kentucky Derby Artist spent about two months composing the Official 2013 Kentucky Derby commemorative poster, intertwining pieces of race programs, tickets, photos of the Twin Spires and track attendees, as well as copies of a mint julep recipe or two.

The final artwork illustrates a colorful depiction of Thoroughbreds at first glance, but as you step closer, you’ll discover a deeper story melded within the overarching image. “I like trying to combine opposites,” Gores said. “In this case, it was fun trying to get the speed and the power of those incredible horses … but, at the same time, capture the color and beauty of the fashion and the gorgeous hats and celebration of it. So it’s kind of relaxing and elegant and fiercely athletic at the same time.”

Though next year’s Derby will be Gores’ first to attend, he was able to accurately portray the essence of one of the world’s biggest horse races through extensive research. “(Churchill Downs) let me go through the archives of available photography through all the years and gave me access to some of the programs from the museum displays and all kinds of great history and fan photos from the last few years,” Gores said.

Aside from the Official 2013 Kentucky Derby commemorative poster, Gores was recently commissioned to create six large collages for the newly built Orlando Magic Arena. His work is also represented in Barcelona, Cologne, Germany and London, with pieces shown nationally in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, New York and Florida. Though a man of many accolades all across the world, Gores was nonetheless excited to place his touch on a time-honored tradition of the Kentucky Derby and become a permanent part of history in the world of horse racing.

“I was thrilled (to be chosen),” Gores said. “It sounds kind of funny – I love learning how different parts of the country celebrate. I’ve never been to Louisville but learning about specific traditions, I always love it. And to be part of that two minutes, the fastest two minutes in sports, honestly, it gets me a little corny, a little extra patriotic to know that our country is big enough that (everyone can offer) something different.”

The Derby poster, along with other memorabilia depicting the Derby art, can be purchased at The Churchill Store at Churchill Downs, The Finish Line Gift Shop at the Kentucky Derby Museum, A Taste of Kentucky stores, Bluegrass Frames and Paradies Shops at Louisville International Airport or online at www.thederbystore.com. For more information on Gores’ work, visit www.derekgores.com.