With the help of her twin Doreen, Jeaneen Barnhart helps kick off the KDF 2009 Party by being selected as the official Derby Poster Artist.
LC: You aren’t originally from Louisville. Tell us how you got here:
JB: I am from Miami, Florida. I moved to Louisville soon after graduating from Alfred University in Upstate New York to be with my twin sister, Doreen. She moved here for a graphic design job and since I can't be without my sister, I moved to Louisville as well and got a job at Framers Supply Co. as a custom framer and manager.
LC: And, why you stay here?
JB: Louisville had so much to offer. It was easy to live here. I made several connections in the art community by just working in a place like Framers Supply – gallery owners, local artists, frame-shop owners, and many art related folks. It was there, where my work was noticed by Sonny Whittle. He was so inspired by my nude figurative drawings, Sonny encouraged me to draw horses and he also made phone calls to the Kentucky Derby Festival about my work.
LC: Highlight of your art career thus far?
JB: I became a self-employed artist in 1994 when my sister and I opened Twinspired - Barnhart Gallery & Studio on Baxter Avenue. This move - along with local gallery exhibits, doing the 1994 KY Derby Festival Poster and the 1994 KY Opera Hardscuffle Print, launched my name into the eyes of the general public. From that point, I continued to work hard, create opportunity and dedicate myself to making passionate art.
LC: When someone asks about your art, how do you label or describe your style?
JB: It's all over the place!!!
Well, my signature work, best known for, is my figure and equine drawing on paper. Successful images are loose, expressive, intimate and compositionally pleasing. It is my desire to describe, on an emotional level, the connection I have with the subject through spontaneous mark-making. I want my charcoal drawings and oil paintings to flow. To move,
and to move me.
LC: You and your twin Doreen were both chosen to be the artists for next year's Derby poster- explain how two people do one project like that:
JB: My part in this project was to create the original artwork. Once that was complete, Doreen applied her graphic design expertise. Her job is more difficult and I am lucky to have her. I can sit back and watch her create the final products... posters, postcards, t-shirts, glassware etc... She perfected the overall design, colors, fonts, composition... as well overseeing the production. We are firm believers in participating
in all phases of the project to assure quality control. We want the art and design at its best!
LC: What was your first thought when you heard you were chosen for the 2009 official Poster?
JB: We were honored and excited. It was time for us to get to WORK and to be TWINSPIRED!
LC: But, this isn?t your first time being the derby poster artist?tell us about the other
JB: The other two years were very exciting, but frustrating. Much of the production has advanced so much since 1994 & 1997, I can't imagine working that hard again on things that are a snap today! Scanning files, image retouching, proofing art, sending art happens within seconds. Anytime Doreen made refinements to the pegasus graphic, she would shoot me an email for an opinion. What use to take days... is now resolved in minutes! Everything is just better and faster!
Working on the Kentucky Derby Festival posters in the past was a great challenge and learning experience. And working with my sister was also a test of patience for ourselves, each other and the people around us. We argued over everything!
This time around, a little criticism... but no fighting!
LC: Your ideal setting for creating the perfect piece includes:
JB: Ideal setting includes plenty of warm air, music with high-quality sound, bottle of cabernet wine, privacy, lots of art materials in reach and paper or canvas just begging for me!
LC: What inspires you?
JB: Great artists like Egon Schiele, Jim Dine, Monet, Degas, DeKooning, Jeffery Jones,
Toulouse Lautrec, Joan Mitchell, Cy Twombly and Marc Chagall.
LC: They say something like only 1 in thousands of people are actually able to make a living solely being an artist. To what do you attribute your success in breaking that mold?
JB: Focusing on my skill.
Working hard every day.
Taking challenges with new subject matter.
Moving around the community. Getting out!
Donating my work.
Caring about my clients.
Learning how to frame!
Crying about a bad piece, then painting over it!
LC: Your hardest lesson learned in doing art?
JB:Knowing when to STOP
LC: Your advice to up-and-coming artists?
JB: Consider the source before listening to the opinion of another and do what feels right to you
LC: Something about you that no one knows?
JB: I own a boa constrictor
LC: If you could describe Louisville in one word, what would it be?
JB: Boom,...for Real!
LC: And, what is your favorite thing about the city?
JB: Networking here is FUN!!
The Kentucky Derby Poster Premiere is January 22, 2009 and 5:30 PM at the Mellwood Arts Center.