• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Woodford native honored in Derby art exhibit

FRAN REDMON, a Woodford County native, took a picture of this tobacco barn in rural Franklin County and painted it. "In For The Cure" is one of 29 paintings hung in the Capitol Rotunda as part of the annual Governor's Derby Exhibit. (Photo submitted)

For a person who's been painting for only three years, former Woodford County farm girl Fran Redmon is apparently a quick learner. Her painting of a tobacco barn in rural Franklin County, "In For The Cure," is one of 29 hanging on the walls of the Capitol Rotunda through May 8 as part of the Governor's Derby Exhibit. "The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored tradition, and so, too, is our celebration of work by Kentucky artists," said First Lady Glenna Bevin. "The Governor's Derby Exhibit is something we want all Kentuckians and visitors to our wonderful state to come to Frankfort and enjoy as we count down the days until the first Saturday in May." Redmon's painting was made after she took a photo near Switzer last fall. "Anytime I drive down the road in the spring and fall and see people planting tobacco or hanging tobacco or tobacco hanging in the barn, I'm always sort of drawn to that, because of my experiences," Redmon said. She began painting after retiring from her career in state government, which began in the Kentucky Crafted program and ended with the Kentucky Arts Council. "I was an arts administrator, and had not really been able to do my artwork when I was administering art," Redmon said. "I fell into the medium of pastels. It seemed to work with my limited space that I had to use, and I have a great affinity toward the rural areas of Kentucky, especially Central Kentucky, where I grew up, and do a lot of photography, so I sort of segued from that into the paintings." After graduating from Woodford County High School in 1973, Redmon attended Western Kentucky University. After graduating, she returned to Versailles for a time, then took a job in Frankfort and moved there. She returns often, and credits former WCHS teacher Rebecca Blair who, she said, "Inspired my college major, my career in the arts, and the fact that I'm still making art today." With three of her siblings living in Woodford County, Redmon said, "Versailles still feels like my hometown." The long-standing Governor's Derby Exhibit is preceded by a call to artists and an application process, and while the Rotunda showing isn't Redmon's first, it might be her favorite. "It's nice to have your work acknowledged. It's sort of ironic to me, because that was my job - helping artists market their work, so I'm having to sort of walk the walk that I used to talk. But having your work acknowledged by a credible organization like the (Kentucky) Arts Council is a boost to any artist," Redmon said. She's now looking into marketing and selling some of her work, and knows having a painting hung in the state capitol for several weeks will only help those efforts. "It's kind of a double thing to me. It's both having that recognition and then to be part of a tradition like the Derby and so ... it's a boost on several levels," Redmon said. She's also tickled about the forthcoming article in her hometown paper. "I told my husband, not since I graduated have I been in The Woodford Sun," Redmon said with a laugh. Note: If you can't make it to Frankfort by May 8, you can see the work of Redmon and the other artists at www.artscouncil.ky.gov/KAC/Showcasing/DerbyExhibit2017.htm.

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