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Arts on the Green

Gourd artist Broughton
uses nature’s pottery to craft her art

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (June 2007) – Trial and error has led Marilyn Broughton to choose a part-time career as a gourd artist. Thinking gourds were pretty in their natural state, Broughton knew she could add her own artistic flair to make her creations uniquely hers.
When beginning one of her gourd creations, Broughton is inspired by the gourd itself. The shape, texture, and size of the viney annual combine so that “the gourd tells me” what it will become, said Broughton.

Marilyn Broughton

Photo provided

Marilyn Broughton of Shelbyville, Ky., adds
her own touch to enhance
the beauty of nature.

She began displaying her gourds at an art show in Midway, Ky., last year and has attended several shows since then, also having her artwork displayed at the Oldham County Arts Center in Crestwood. Broughton was a Best of Show winner in last year’s Arts on the Green juried fine art show held in La Grange.
“It was very uplifting to do my work and have someone else judge it, OK or not OK, for such a prestigious show,” said Broughton. She will be participating in the 2007 Arts on the Green from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on June 2-3.
Held on the Oldham County Courthouse lawn, this premier art show will feature 120 artists showcasing all forms of art, with the exception of performance art. Arts on the Green has been so successful because it is a juried show, said Judy Wegenast, vice president and Arts on the Green director.
Another contributing factor to its popularity is the location. “La Grange is very appealing,” said Wegenast. “It’s a quaint, friendly town.”
More than $1,700 in awards will be given out, with First, Second, and Third Place awards given for 2-D, 3-D and Wearables. One artist will be selected for the Best of Show award, and another for the Best of Show Booth award.
Wegenast said the Arts Association of Oldham County, which organizes this show, “continually tries to refine it. It gets better each year.”
Half of the participating artists are returning artists from last year, along with many local artists. The association also brings in new artists to keep the show fresh, said Wegenast. Gallery 104 will be open on Main Street during the show to display various members’ artwork.
One of the main goals of the association is to provide an opportunity for its 149 members to display their work locally, said Marion Gibson, the association’s board president. She sees the organization as a service-provider in that it is constantly “bringing the arts to Oldham County,” through such events as Arts on the Green.
Based on a waiting list that keeps growing, “We anticipate an excellent show this year,” said Wegenast. This is just further proof that the show is continuing to expand in the artist’s community.

Cat Fantasy

Photo provided

Broughton’s
award-winning gourd
titled “Cat Fantasy.”

Gourd arts popularity peaked a few years ago and is still a popular art form, said Wegenast. Many artists paint, engrave and embellish their gourds with polymer clay to give it added dimension.
Last year was Broughton’s first year to participate in Arts on the Green, and she walked away with the Best of Show Award for her kettle gourd piece titled, “Cat Fantasy.” An image of her intensely colorful work is being used in an association poster to promote the art show.
Broughton said she has “always done art in one form or another.” She is a member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.
Broughton uses gourds of different sizes to craft her ornamental pieces. When contemplating a new gourd design, Broughton first conceives a general idea of what she wants to do. Next she draws out a design two or three times on the gourd until she’s satisfied with it.
She then uses a wood burner to make a deep incision of her idea on the gourd, sands it and adds color using dyes or colored pencils. She finishes it with a clear coat and a pen filled with gold ink.
Originally from Shelbyville, Ky., her artwork is featured in different locations in other states. In Florida, she completed artwork for Outback Steakhouse that consisted of 3-D kangaroos.
Crafting gourds is somewhat time consuming for Broughton, who works for the Shelby County School system. “I do it for the mentality of it,” she said.
“Every piece is an original. No two are alike.”

• Marilyn Broughton’s work can be viewed at www.arti2ude.com. For more information on Arts on the Green, contact the Arts Association office at (502) 222-3822 or visit: www.artsassociationofoldhamcounty.org.

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