Four artists harness the energy of The Derby in CRAFT(s) Gallery’s ‘Horsepower’

“Intense Challenge” by Jeaneen Barnhart

Believe it or not, on Friday, April 5, it will be exactly 30 days until the running of the 145th Kentucky Derby.

While there is still so much to do to prepare — find a hat, rent out your house, secure tickets, grow mint — the folks at CRAFT(s) Gallery & Mercantile have gathered four of Kentucky’s top equine artists for one show. “Horsepower” opens Friday and features the energetic artwork of artists Jeaneen Barnhart, Jaime Corum, Tyler Robertson and Richard Sullivan.

Many Louisvillians are familiar with Barnhart’s work, as it has graced everything from multiple Kentucky Derby Festival posters, a bottle of Woodford Reserve, St. James Court Art Show posters and much more. She’s been drawn to sketching horses ever since she moved to Louisville in 1992.

“Portrait II” by Tyler Robertson

Corum is a Kentucky equine artist who has always been inspired by horses, so much so that she owns her own named Chesapeake. Robertson, meanwhile, is known for his original take on traditional subjects, and in 2018, he was chosen as the official artist of the Breeders’ Cup.

Finally, Sullivan is a former professional baseball player who later turned to art and now creates works for the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Louisville Slugger Museum and even the Atlanta Braves.

Insider caught up with two of the artists in “Horsepower” — Barnhart and Sullivan — to find out more about their passion for the ponies.

Insider Louisville: How many pieces do you have in the exhibit? 

Jeaneen Barnhart: Ten pieces total — four large and six small to medium pieces.

Richard Sullivan: I have eight watercolor paintings in the exhibit.

IL: What does being in this group show mean to you? 

Barnhart: I’ve been working with CRAFT(s) Gallery for a few years, doing solo shows. Having a group is great for showing the different artists’ approach to a single subject, equine sport. Our styles are all completely diverse, therefore it makes it so interesting for the audience.

I also like having to produce less work — not as much stress!

Sullivan: I am honored to be showing my work in CRAFT(s) Gallery next to some of the most renowned equestrian artists in the state. Being an artist can be a solitary effort so much of the time, and this is a chance for us to come together and celebrate a special time in Louisville together. I feel like we can push each other as artists and colleagues.

“Darley Stallion” by Jaime Corum

IL: Do you have any plans to create art from this year’s Derby? 

Barnhart: I plan to create original work for my clients. No Derby prints in the works, yet!

Sullivan: Yes! I always create a few paintings of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

IL: What is it about horse racing or horses in general that piques your interest as an artist? 

Barnhart: Equine and human forms possess the passion, anatomy and movement that lays the foundation for my expression. It is always my goal to reveal the energy and emulate the figure through loose interpretation of uninhibited line and depth. The beauty of the horse and excitement of the horse racing sport fulfills my needful desire to artistically connect and represent.

“Justify” by Richard Sullivan

Sullivan: I’ve never considered myself specifically an equestrian artist. I love painting athletes in motion, and I consider horses athletes in their own right. Each horse has its own personality and competitive drive; you can see them competing with each other on the race track.

I think that is a really special quality, and my goal is to capture that effort in my paintings. I love the power, beauty and majesty of horses. There is a special kind of energy on the race track and it’s totally different from any other athletic competition.

IL: What projects do you have on the horizon?

Barnhart: This year will be my 10th annual art show booth at Art in Speed Park in August. I’ll have an abundance of new works and prints, along with tropical-influenced artwork after creating in a new condo in south Florida.

Sullivan: I just signed a contract to become an officially licensed artist with Major League Baseball. I will be able to create paintings of current and retired athletes and sell originals and prints in stadiums, online and other retail markets. My goal is to create a limited-edition series of paintings for each team and help connect sports fans with art.

“Horsepower” opens Friday, April 5, with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. It continues through May 31. CRAFT(s) Gallery is located at 572 S. Fourth St.