County Art Show
highlight Dry Ridge, Ky., event
created portrait of
former President George Bush
DRY RIDGE, Ky. (September 2009) Being invited
to the Oval Office in 2006 by President George Bush to present him with
a graphite and color pencil portrait has been one of the highlights
of artist John Osbornes career. After all, its not everyday
one is invited to the Oval Office.
joins other artists
at this month's Horse
Osborne is an accomplished artist from Dry Ridge, Ky.,
who works in graphite, color pencil and oils. I like doing portraits
of people who have contributed to our history, said Osborne, 66.
The only rule I have is that I must see character in the subject.
Originally from Liberty, Ind., Osborne moved to his parents home
state of Kentucky when his father went into the U.S. Navy in World War
II. In fact, his first recollection of his love for art is of
a calendar that hung on our kitchen wall when I was 4 or 5 years old.
It was filled with paintings of World War I aircraft engaged in aerial
Osborne is a member of Community Enrichment Through the Arts. Based
in Grant County, Ky., the group displays its members' artwork monthly
at the Grant County Tourism Center and plays host to the annual Autumn
This will be the eighth year for CETA to sponsor the Autumn Arts Fest.
CETA decided to accept an initiation to join with Kentucky Horse Heritage
Days to make it one large event, said Judy Mullins, Grant County Tourism
Kentucky Horse Heritage Days is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on
Sept. 26-27. The event will take place at the Northern Kentucky Fairgrounds
on Baton Rouge Road in Williamstown, Ky.
Artists such as Osborne will be participating in this event. Grant County
is the first county to take part in an equine event leading up to the
2010 World Equestrian Games, said Mullins.
Art and equine artistry combine for a festive and entertaining
event, said CETA artist Brian Simms of Kentucky Horse Heritage
Days. Its a fun, educational and exciting festival of the
diverse and significant value of the horse on our history and our tomorrows.
Arts and craftspeople from the tri-state area participate, said Mullins.
There are indoor and covered outdoor tent spaces, live demonstrations
and food. On display will be paintings, drawings, photography, handmade
baskets, ceramics, music, soap, and jewelry, just to name a few of the
media that will be represented.
Osborne usually doesnt market his artwork at many other venues,
but he does like to participate in the Kentucky Horse Heritage Days
event. Graphite was the first medium available to me as a child
in the form of a No. 2 pencil in my school supplies, he said.
I learned how to shade with it for what in later life gave a black
and white photographic quality.
He pursued the art form over the years because I like fine detail.
Pencils give me the control to achieve that.
Osborne said he believes any art talent he possesses is a gift from
God. He uses the hardships, emotional pain, disappointments, failures
and even my joys to improve my art.
The time Osborne spent in Vietnam serving as a crew chief and door gunner
on a D-Model Huey helicopter provided him with a great passion for aviation
and military art, prompting an interest in combat artistry. But the
war also influenced his art in other ways due to many sleepless nights
he spent painting in an attempt to avoid sleep as he was ravaged by
nightmares of Vietnam.
He returned home from the war in summer 1967 at the beginning of the
war protest movement. He said protesters really had little or no idea
as to the conditions soldiers served under in Vietnam. Once he returned,
I withdrew for the most part from society. Art gave me a temporary
safe place to escape into.
Osborne has used such experiences and translated them into his artwork.
All those sleepless nights fueled his creativity. There was some
success-my skills went from very bad to somewhat acceptable. Acceptable
enough to be invited to the White House.
Admission to Kentucky Horse Heritage Days
is $5 per car load. For more information, contact Judy Mullins at (859)
322-3082, the Grant County Tourism office at (859) 824-3451, or visit:
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