By Corianne Egan
Paducah has had a long-standing love affair with art and food. That is what Live on Broadway coordinator Jeff Spicer thought about while putting together the weekly event, and the art competition that is attached to it.
“We are an arts community,” Spicer said. “But there are some very special restaurants in this town. Food is something that everyone would relate to.”
The juried art exhibit, “All About Food,” depicting local food and restaurants, was hung around town this week and prepared for the toughest jury yet: the residents of Paducah.
“This is kind of like ‘American Idol,’” Spicer said. “You get to see the work, then text your vote. Everyone gets a say.”
Thirty-two pieces will hang in 18 restaurants in downtown Paducah for three weeks. Each piece has a corresponding number for voters to text, which will cast their vote for the People’s Choice selection of the exhibit.
The show was juried by Murray State alum Jennifer Fairbanks and Shane Gregory. The grand prize winner, who took home $500, was folk artist Gay Speirbhain. Most of the pieces, which included painting and mixed media art, depicted local places, like Kirchhoff’s and the back patio of JP’s Bar and Grill.
“There’s even one showing the outside of Shandie’s, where a lot of the FEMA people had come to eat that day,” Spicer said. “One of the conditions were that the art had to be inspired by our downtown and Lower Town cuisine and restaurants.”
Because artists had to visit restaurants and local hotspots to do their art, and voters need to go to these places to text, the event has also spurred some economic positives. Spicer believes that art depicting local scenery is also something that art enthusiasts are looking for when they come to Paducah.
“It was an effort to get people excited about going into restaurants and seeing art made by local people about local places,” Spicer said.
Spicer was happy with the effort in the first competition, but hopes it will become an annual event. With more notice, along with potential corporate sponsors, it could attract more artists and give out bigger prize money next year.
“We had six weeks to pull Live on Broadway together,” Spicer said. “And everyone only had six weeks to paint. Give people more time, and more incentive, and it could grow to be 10 times as big.”
While the juried awards were handed out Saturday, community members will have a chance to vote for the People’s Choice Award through Monday, July 25. The winner, who also receives $250, will be announced at the last Live on Broadway at 8 p.m. July 30 in front of the Yeiser Art Center.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.