The Kentuckiana area is lucky to have an amazing
event once a year known to bring more than 250,000
attendees from all over the world. If your mind went
immediately to horses and giant hats, think again.
When the leaves change and the weather cools, the
St. James Court Art Show is what attracts people
from near and far.
The one-of-a-kind experience for art lovers in
the heart of Old Louisville is a juried show that now
has more than 700 exhibitors who sell their wares
and high-level art.
Howard Rosenberg, executive director of the
St. James Court Art Show, said the event is special
for many reasons. “The setting is unique,” he said.
“There are very few art shows in the country – I don’t
know of any of them – that are right smack dab in
the middle of a historic landmark neighborhood.
It also gives people an opportunity to see some of
the finest art in the country.”
And it’s free.
The show was started in 1957 by St. James Court
Association President Malcolm Bird as a way to
make money. The association was out of funds,
and it had looming debt because of recent fountain
repairs. The show was originally open to all and
was just an exhibit. Art was hung on clotheslines
from tree to tree.
Over the years, the show grew and expanded in
the neighborhood, adding Belgravia Court, sections
of Third Street and the West End Baptist Church. The
neighborhood impact average of St. James Court Art
Show is about $56,000 annually, which surrounding
schools and churches each raise – on average – by
using their parking lots for St. James Court Art
Show visitor parking. The money raised from the
actual show has helped fund historic preservation
of the neighborhood, which has spurred housing
restoration in the area. “It grew because it became
such an iconic art show, but it also grew because it
benefits the other neighborhoods to participate,”
Rosenberg said. “They’re all part of a consortium
that makes up the art show as participants. It’s grown
because of the level of art, because of the demand,
because of it being so special.”The St. James Court
Art Show also focuses on ensuring diversity of artistic
medium, making sure that it’s not just oil paintings
or watercolors. There are 17 different mediums,
including jewelry, clay, wood and more.
The jurors of the show select artists based on
photos of the art, with no idea who the artist is,
Rosenberg said. So, entry is entirely based on the
quality of the art. “Then, during the show, another
group of jurors – people from the art world – visit
and assess the artists themselves,” Rosenberg said.
“Are they engaging? What do people think of the
art? Are they actively participating? Not like a car
salesman trying to sell something, but are they
The show annually awards $50,000 in scholarships
to area high school students. Several of are as high
as $15,000 individually. So, visitors are not only
supporting artists who are supporting themselves,
they are also supporting the next generation of artists.
Rosenberg has lived in Old Louisville off and on
for 37 years, and has been a volunteer and organizer
of several projects in the area. He said he likes the
way the St. James Court Art Show showcases the
“Because of the setting, because of Central Park, I
think that that’s what’s so special about it,” Rosenberg
said. “The fact that it continues to improve and
expand, and new artists are brought in. The fact
that there’s a scholarship program for students. It
brings the neighborhood together and showcases
it in a special way.”
This year’s St. James Court Art Show is Oct. 5, 6
& 7 in Historic Old Louisville. It’s open 10 a.m. to
6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday. Admission is free, but please leave your
dogs at home. For a complete list of artists and
vendors, pick up a free program available at the
welcome tents at St. James Court and Magnolia
Avenue, Fourth Street and Magnolia Avenue, St.
James Court and Hill Street. Or just ask a volunteer,
who will be happy to help you.
St. James Court Art Show
Oct. 4, 5, & 6
Historic Old Louisville
For GPS, use 1402 St. James Ct.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday & Saturday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Rain or shine
No pets allowed