Stop 18. Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen

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Founded in 1961, The Kentucky Guild of Artists & Craftsmen is the oldest arts organization in Kentucky working to preserve and promote the rich heritage and exciting future of art and craft. Membership is comprised of the finest artists, craftsmen, and supporting members in Kentucky and surrounding states. Although they are now headquartered in Berea, they began on two train cars that then Governor Bert T. Combs requisitioned from the L&N Railroad Company. The concept of a traveling arts guild was the brainchild of a group of artists and craftsmen including Lester Pross and Virginia Minish. The passenger coach was converted at Berea College to a demonstration workshop and a small apartment for the Director traveling with the Train. The baggage car was developed at the Kentucky Rail Museum in Louisville into an exhibition gallery. From 1961 to 1967 the KGAC “Guild Train” criss-crossed Kentucky, providing a rolling gallery, demonstrations, and workshops to help Kentucky artisans improve their products and make them more marketable. The trains provided the impetus for the development of numerous crafts cooperatives across the state. Today this statewide organization is headquartered in Berea’s Old Town Artisan Village, where they continue to provide the same services. Exhibits and demonstrations are open to the public alongside retail space featuring the work of Guild members. The Kentucky Guild Visual Arts Academy provides hands-on workshops lasting from one to five days. They also sponsor an annual fair in October.