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    The Louisville we love doesn’t fit into boxes. It can’t be ranked first, second, third. It’s the moment the stage lights come up on your favorite local band. Or the way the bridges mirror themselves in the Ohio. Or the mail carrier who has watched your kids grow up. That’s what makes this city great. And that’s what’s in this year’s Best of Louisville issue, with staff, contributors and folks we’ve written about all weighing in.

    No categories.

    No limits.

    Simply the best.

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    THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL   ~   OUTDOORS   ~   PEOPLE   ~   FOOD   ~   ART

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    KNOCKOUT

    We commissioned five Louisville artists to create work they'd like to see at the Muhammad Ali International Airport. 
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    HEMINGWAY ON VINYL

    Surface Noise, a store that sells used books and records on Baxter Avenue, has plenty of those two things — from Simone de Beauvoir to John Coltrane. But it also carries a selection of something in between those categories: spoken-word records. Etched into shellac or vinyl, the voices of literary giants live on — Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway (read by Hemingway or, if you prefer, Charlton Heston), Philip Roth, Albert Camus in French. I’ve found my summer playlist.

    — Dylon Jones

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    Painting by David Schuster

    “I’ve done some work in people’s houses — some railings and metal shelves and liquor cabinets and all sorts of stuff — and I would constantly see David Schuster’s paintings in people’s houses. He did a Muhammad Ali portrait that was truly amazing. I’m just like: Wow.”

    Jeremy Semones, owner of Core Design


    Painting by David Schuster

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    “Lots of ideas for my classroom this year were inspired by hours spent at Art Sparks at the Speed Art Museum. I love spending time making our own art projects at the tables or watching the kids explore in the other areas.” 

    Ashleigh Glickley, Hawthorne Elementary teacher

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    After Hours at the Speed is rejuvenating and alive. Having art, music and culinary diversity in one place is great for our city.”

    Vian Sora, artist

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    SATURDAY NIGHT HONKY-TONK AT TURNERS

    “Tight as a tick, and high as a kite, I drank all the whiskey in Kentucky last night,” Johnny Berry sings to a toe-tapping, thigh-slapping crowd during a recent honky-tonk at American Turners of Louisville. Situated on the second floor of a nondescript cinderblock building, the no-frills Turners lounge on River Road features live classic country on the last Saturday of the month. There’s dancing if you’re inclined, along with cheap drinks (even cheaper for club members). A cowboy-hat-and-boots-clad Berry and his band the Outliers perform original tunes that’ll have you singing along, plus country music gems by Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and other legends. If the weather is nice, take a break on the elevated patio overlooking the Ohio River.

    — Sarah Kelley

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    JECOREY'S GLORY

    “For this, I would like to thank Jecorey Arthur.”
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    “Best hip-hop-focused community event: LouiEvolve. This past year, I saw a showcase in a nightclub, and then two days later saw a family-friendly event in the park.”

    Idris Goodwin, producing artistic director at StageOne Family Theatre

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    “Best place to watch a Broadway musical in Louisville: Whitney Hall’s private viewing room at the Kentucky Center. You can sing and dance along and nobody hears you!”

    Mike Berry, retiring Kentucky Derby Festival CEO

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    auralgami SOUNDS

    Sometime in 2014 or 2015, JC Denison returned to the Louisville area from Chicago. He’d been in bands in town before and he wanted to plug back into the local music scene. Together with fellow musician Matt Dodds, he created auralgami SOUNDS, a record label that puts out small runs (say, 50 copies) of mostly cassette tapes in a variety of colors. Yep, cassette tapes. Denison was sick of all the boxes of CDs he had amassed, and he was nostalgic for mixtapes, which he still makes for his girlfriend. Auralgami’s Bandcamp page lists their genre interests as: “Experimental, electronic, acoustic, garage, laptop, low-budget/no-budget.” Experimental vocalist Cher Von, jazz-infused Curio Key Club and classical artist Sara Soltau have all put out music on auralgami. “The more experimental stuff does really well on cassette,” Denison says. “A lot of people who have cassette players are the ones who tend to maybe be a little further out there, you know?”

    — Dylon Jones

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    EVERY BODY'S STORY
    A comic by Maddie Weiner

    The library's Drag Queen Storytime featured local drag performer Vanessa Demornay, a theme of “acceptance, inclusion and princesses” and about 100 protesters and counter-protesters.
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    Posters by Julius Friedman

    POSTHUMOUS POSTER DISPLAY

    Just inside the Edison Center, a warehouse-looking office building on an edge of Old Louisville that missed out on the Victorian charm, hangs perhaps the most famous poster in Louisville history. No sexy gallery lighting, no curator doting on its conceptual brilliance. Instead, it presides over a short set of stairs and a ramp, which folks might climb to file a police report, or vote, or, if they count themselves among the some 300 employees of Louisville Metro based in the building, go to work. Each of their reflections might pass through the frame, merging for a moment with the greatest promotional image ever made for a ballet company, the pink ballerina’s shoe poised on top of an egg Julius Friedman made for the Louisville Ballet in 1980. Lettering on the wall above reads, all-caps, “THE POSTERS OF JULIUS FRIEDMAN / GIFT OF THE FRAZIER HISTORY MUSEUM,” announcing the 224 other posters from Friedman’s 50-year career installed in various spots around the Edison Center last year, when the Frazier History Museum gifted the entire collection to the city. There’s a quote from Friedman about the ballet poster on a card next to it that seems significant, now that he’s been dead nearly two years: “I live in the moment,” he said, “so for something to still have an impact 36 years later, it’s great.” 

    — Dylon Jones

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    The Hat Factory 93 album by Rodan, with proceeds benefitting Girls Rock Louisville.”

    — Jessica George, executive director of Revolutions Per Minute

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    “The Louisville Orchestra’s Teddy Abrams, for whom my unrequited love will live forever.”

    — reader Danika Isdahl

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    A SINGLE PINPRICK

    In three short years of tattooing, Ben Naiser has mastered the art of fine-line, tiny tats.
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    HANNAH DRAKE’S SPACES

    “I saw Hannah perform her poem ‘Spaces’ when she was named a Daughter of Greatness at the Ali Center. And she brought the house down. She embodies many of the same characteristics as Ali — pushing boundaries that others set, boundaries that she doesn’t, and shouldn’t have to, live by. What an example of courage.”

    Rachel Platt, director of community engagement at the Frazier History Museum

     

    “I’ve been a fan of Hannah since experiencing her powerful performance of ‘Spaces.’ An empowering vision of equity and inclusion. Wow. I was on a panel with her and then she got up and did that. Then I had to speak right after her. Didn’t make it easy! She’s an inspiring artist and activist, and a needed voice in our community. 

    Matt Wallace, Kentucky Shakespeare’s producing artistic director

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    Photos courtesy of KMAC Couture

    KMAC Couture. I don’t see much fashion in Louisville, and to see the work of these talented artists? The production quality of the event is really high. And a creative way to fundraise.”

    Maggie Keith, Foxhollow Farm owner

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    THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL   ~   OUTDOORS   ~   PEOPLE   ~   FOOD   ~   ART

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    This originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine as part of our annual Best of Louisville issue. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Cover typography by Brian Patrick Todd

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