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    The first official event of the 2005 Kentucky Derby Festival – the 25th Annual Poster Premiere on Jan. 27  – will feature not only the unveiling of the 2005 Official Poster, but also a reunion of past artists from the 25-year history of the Official Poster Series. More than a dozen of the 21 past poster artists will be on hand at the Premiere, which takes place at 5:30 p.m. at the Kentucky International Convention Center. The artists will be available to meet the public and sign copies of their posters and other collectible items.

    “We’re very excited in the 50th Celebration year of the Derby Festival to be able to reunite many of the artists from the 25-year history of the Official Poster Series,” said Mike Berry, Derby Festival President and CEO. “These original pieces of art have become fixtures in homes and businesses all over the community. People will be able to meet the artists and ask them about their techniques and vision for their poster.”

    Among the artists expected to att/files/storyimages/are: Julius Friedman (1982), Sonny Whittle (1985, 1990 and 2005), Cynthia Torp (1986), Page Penna (1989), Jeff Tull (1991), Jeaneen Barnhart and Doreen DeHart (1994), Karen Boone (1999), Lonnie Walker (2000), Rhonda Harshfield (2001), Jason Koetter (2002), Risa Yussman (2003) and Joe Weber (2004).

    The evening will also feature free gifts for the first 1000 attendees, hors d’oeuvres, an art auction and the sale of Official 2005 Derby Festival Merchandise. This year’s Official Poster Artist is Sonny Whittle of Crestwood, who also created the Official Poster in 1985 and 1990. Whittle’s two previous poster designs (the 1990 poster was done in conjunction with his nephew, Mark Bird) are among the best-selling in the history of the Poster Series.

    The Poster Premiere is sponsored by Midwestern Insurance Alliance. Contributing sponsors are Oldies 103 WRKA, Greater Louisville Inc., Centerplate and Cardinal Printing/Redleaf Digital.  Advance tickets are $15 and $20 at the door.  Call (502) 584-6383 for tickets.

    Over the years, the Festival’s Official Poster Series has become a unique symbol of the community. Past designs decorate offices and homes throughout the city. Peter Max’s expressionistic “Bluegrass Pegasus” launched the series in 1981, and a stylistic and geographical mix of artists have been showcased over the years. The signed collector editions continue to significantly increase in value, and the quality of the Poster Series has been recognized worldwide.

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