Trail exposes Kentuckians to historical art spaces

By Steven King

The College of Design’s semester project, the “Northern Kentucky Historic Art Spaces Trail” is continuing to expand.

The semester project is over and now the work will be coupled with the efforts of the Gaines Center for Humanities’ Museums Without Walls project, but the exact nature of the work is yet to be determined, said Professor Douglas Appler, the Helen Edwards Abell Chair in Historic Preservation and the leader of the “Northern Kenucky Historic Art Spaces Trail.”

The Museum Without Walls project aims to give Kentuckians exposure to art in public places. Through creating public openness to historic art, Museum Without Walls will build on the efforts of the College of Design from last semester, and make the unique art Kentucky has to offer more open to the public.

The exact process is currently being determined, Appler said.

He said the trail connects the historical art spaces along Kentucky Route 8, a highway that stretches over 100 miles along the Northern Kentucky region.

Forty-seven art spaces were selected, comprised of historical buildings (those more than 50 years old) being used as art galleries, art instructional spaces and performance art, Appler said.

Lauren Letsinger, a senior ISC major and native of the Northern Kentucky town of Florence, has visited some art spaces in the area.

“They are captivating,” Letsinger said. “The art sites in Northern Kentucky seem to be one of a kind.”

Bridging the gap between all of the historical art spaces in a comprehensive manner will allow people to visit multiple sites along Kentucky Route 8, and inform people about the sites so they can plan their tour accordingly, Appler said.

“People will be able to plan a weekend based off what they are interested in seeing with the trail,” Appler said.

While the trail will provide a vessel for art connoisseurs to obtain information, others are benefitting from the project in other valuable ways.

Appler said the experience of working on the trail for a semester project was valuable to the students in the College of Design.

“I think many of the students had a great experience,” he said. “They got to do serious archival research, a lot of good, solid face-to-face contact with community groups and other people who are involved with historical buildings on a daily basis.”

Students from the College of Design each focused on a small number of sites, learning about the buildings’ origin and history, Appler said.

College of Design student Kathy Martinolich remembers a historical space she researched.

“I had two sites in Ludlow and one in Fort Thomas and found out so many interesting things about each of them,” Martinolich said. “The Masonic Hall I researched was a pharmacy for a long time and was actually featured in the movie ‘Lost in Yonkers.’”

Now the challenge is finding a way to make the trail accessible to the public, Appler said.

“If it gets picked up, how it looks will have to be decided,” he said. “It could be on a website, a downloadable map, and people will be able to find it.”