A colorful painting that depicts racing under the shadows of the Twin Spires by Atlanta-based artist Jeff Williams has been unveiled as the official art of the 2009 “Art of the Kentucky Derby” series that celebrates next year’s 135th renewals of the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.
Churchill Downs and JettStream Productions, which is now in its eighth year as the official licensee of the “Art of the Kentucky Derby” series, joined the artist on Saturday, Nov. 1, at the historic track to formally unveil Williams’ work that will appear on posters, prints, tickets, racing programs and officially licensed products for the 2009 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
The sweeping piece created by Williams captures the pageantry of Millionaires Row at the height of excitement on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, while men and women in their most elegant dress look down over the finish line as six Thoroughbreds race down the track on a sun-splashed afternoon at the races. The enticing mix of spring dresses, galloping racehorses and the bold colors of the dirt and turf courses against the striking white of the finish line are overlaid by the graceful, elongated shadows of the famous Twin Spires cast across horses and riders as they flash by. The classic elements of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks are included in touches amongst the crowd, included red roses, stargazer lilies and a mint julep.
Churchill Downs has also debuted two featured hats depicted in the painting, created by award-winning New York City milliner Christine A. Moore. The Kentucky Derby and Oaks hats will be auctioned off in spring 2009 with proceeds to benefit local charities.
A world-traveler who enjoyed formal training at the Art Institute in Atlanta, Williams has painted since childhood and had participated in art shows throughout the United States and Europe. In 2007, he was chosen as one of 12 American artists to participate in the prestigious Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts Show at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, the world’s most visited art museum. It was the first time in over a century that American artists had been invited to participate in the show. Williams is also represented by art galleries across the United States, including the Karen Lynne Gallery in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Boca Raton, Fla.; the Chasen Galleries of Fine Art in Charlotte, N.C., and Richmond, Va.; and the Gallery Diamante in Carmel by the Sea, Calif.
Other artists and illustrators of national and world renown whose work has been procured by JettStream Productions for the “Art of the Kentucky Derby” series include Trish Biddle in 2008; Misha Lenn (2007); Dennis Ziemienski (Derby 2006) and Erica Nordean (Oaks 2006); Bart Forbes (2005); Francis Livingston (2004); Laura Smith (2003); Gary Kelley (2002); and legendary singer Tony Bennett (2001). Prior to JettStream's involvement in the series, “official” Kentucky Derby artists included Leroy Neimann, Peter Max, Boguslaw Lustyk and Peter William.