Four places worth braving the cold to experience Danville’s arts scene

Kentucky Januarys can be cold and gloomy, but Danville has the antidote to freezing temps and overcast skies with a vivacious arts scene. Here are four places worth braving the cold to experience outstanding art.

Art Center of the Bluegrass

There is always something new to see and do at the free-admission Art Center, from rotating arts exhibits and classes (Lunch with the Arts, ceramic, painting, more) to programming that includes free family-friendly events with lots of classes for all ages.

“When you arrive at the Art Center, check in at the front desk where you will be warmly greeted and told about our current exhibit, class offerings, programing and schedules,” said Leigh Jefferson, museum program director. “We have an Art Box for kids with free art kits that changes monthly and, at Lisi’s Art Lab on the second floor, a free art creating space for kids, where they can read, paint and event build a sculpture.”

The Art Box is one of the center’s outreach programs and is modeled after the Little Free Libraries, with art kits and interactive projects taking the place of books.

Opening on January 13 is “Connections,” which showcases the creativity of artists with disabilities, both within Kentucky and from around the country. Field trips and community programs will be offered during the exhibition to increase community appreciation for artists with disabilities and provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage with the artwork and the creative process.


Boyle County Public Library

Topping the art pieces in the permanent collection of the library – quite literally – is “Time Zippy” by renowned glass artist, the late Stephen Rolfe Powell. Powell’s stunning, multihued glass sculpture is suspended from the soaring ceiling in the library’s rotunda, his first and only such piece.

Weighing about 1,500 pounds and featuring 365 glass orbs in a vibrant color palette of red, yellow, orange, blue and purple, “Time Zippy’s” color patterns are a reflection of the small dots of color (murine) characteristic of the artist’s other blown glass pieces – but on a grand scale.

“On a breezy day, when there are strong air currents from doors opening and closing, you can hear the orbs tapping together as if they are a huge and subtle wind chime,” said Georgia de Araujo, director of the Boyle County Public Library.

The library’s 350-piece collection focuses on Kentucky artists and contains a wide variety of mediums: photographs, oils, acrylics, textiles, bronzes and wooden objects. The displays are rotated on a regular basis to complement various library and community programs.

As you roam the stacks, keep an eye out for the brightly colored “Kokpelli, Moon, Sun, & Gecko Table” in the children’s library; “Whimsey in Weisiger,” an oil on canvas painting by David Farmer; the “Story of the Underground Railway” Quilt and the Bookcase Quilt, “Read,” created as a memorial fundraising project to support the library addition in 2008/09; and a bronze and wood bust of Albert Einstein, among other pieces.


Centre College/Norton Center For the Arts + Jones Visual Arts Center

The glass studio Stephen Rolfe Powell started at Centre College in 1985 is part of the college’s Jones Visual Arts Center and home to displays of exceptional student artwork and other artistic endeavors.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, the Center welcomes CentreTerm Grissom Artist-in-Residence Patricia Smith for an in-person poetry reading, which begins at 7:30 p.m. The author of nine books, including Incendiary Art, Smith has garnered multiple awards, including the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. She was the 2021 recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement and a 2022 inductee of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The event is open to the public.

At the Norton Center for the Arts, the college’s stunning showplace for top national and international performances, the “We Were Here” exhibit continues through May. This historical storytelling project, a campus and community collaboration that brings together esteemed authors, change agents and performing artists, celebrates the area’s rich African American heritage.


Downtown public art

With the three-acre Constitution Square Historic Site, Downtown Danville is already a living history museum. It is also an open-air art gallery with 16 different pieces of contemporary public art, including mosaics, murals and more. Download Danville’s Public Art Map or pick up a copy at the Art Center or the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau office at Constitution Square. Then find your way to the bronze young Abraham Lincoln statue created by famed sculptor Ed Hamilton and the Color Waves Mosaic, created by Tracy Pennington in collaboration with students from Kentucky School for the Deaf and 14 other artworks.

At Centre College, the Stephen Rolfe Powell Memorial Sculpture Garden features a 25-foot-tall steel and glass sculpture that visitors can walk through, a tribute to the internationally acclaimed glass artist, whose dynamic glassworks have been displayed all over the world and who taught at the college for more than three decades. Reminiscent of Powell’s iconic vessels, the sculpture is lighted and has an illuminated circle that incorporates shards of the artist’s own pieces. The Sculpture Garden, which encompasses a garden, walking path, three custom-made artistic benches and a small amphitheater, serves as an endearing reminder of Powell’s legacy in glass art.

Step into the Danville Labyrinth, located at McDowell Park adjacent to the campus at Centre College. Modeled after the twelfth-century 11-circuit labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral in France, part of the pilgrim’s quest on their journey to the holy land, this 40-foot by 40-foot stone pathway to peace is a place of grace and meditation.

Find out more about this and other art-related opportunities in Danville here –

Post written by Kathy Witt.