Jim Clark

I’ve always felt it was my responsibility to provide an environment in which an artist can encounter a public or an audience in the most favorable way. I work to make sure I can present things that reflect the desire and integrity of the artist in a way that is understood by the public, that isn’t alien. In that sense, I am a bridge between an artist and a community.

I grew up Los Angeles in the Hollywood Hills, where I would take care of my neighbor’s garden when he went on vacation. He was the first art director for Condé Nast, and he had all these signed paintings and drawings by Picasso, George Braque, and other artists hanging in his living room and library. Although I had seen art works on trips to the L.A. County Art Museum, these signed pieces in my neighbor’s house made a huge impression on my young self: these artists were real live people, and my neighbor knew them! As an adult, I worked in New York City, creating the first major exhibit of contemporary art on Park Avenue in collaboration with the artist Fernando Botero. It totally transformed the space. The large bronze figures disrupted the grid of Park Avenue in a way that was really pleasant and surprising.

After a while, though, I wanted to experience the arts world outside of the East and West Coast models. I lived briefly in Ohio, and then took an opportunity to come to Lexington, Kentucky to lead LexArts. As I’d hoped for, things operate a lot differently here: it’s a much more agrarian economy, to start. There’s also a really natural, authentic, and dynamic cultural scene with bluegrass music, a strong folk and craft tradition, and many great writers and poets who originated in this area. Yet, at times, this fantastic heritage is overshadowed and discounted. My quest is to lift up these art forms and make people aware of the great power these cultural practices can have for our personal identity and tourism.