Kentucky Horse Country
Photographer James Archambeault prefaces his photographs with a statement that may take many by surprise – and which should affect, in every way, the way we proceed with our lives in the Bluegrass. He writes, “In 2005, Kentucky’s Bluegrass was named one of the most endangered cultural sites in the worldÖa designation that includes the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Wall of ChinaÖ threatened by environmental damage caused largely by poor local planning or overdevelopment.” The photographs that follow his statement show not only his love and respect for the horses, land and culture that unite to create Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, but a love for the art form that so beautifully records it.
Photographs in the spring portray the farms that many of us will see only in pictures – private land that houses the yearlings who are weaned from their mothers when 4-6 months old. They gather with other foals their age and wander free in the paddocks and fields before their training for the racetrack begins. And the culture of the racetrack is captured as well. Mud splattered faces and limbs are caught as they pound down the track, thrilling the throngs of spectators who fill the stands.
But it is Archambeault’s capture of the serenity of Kentucky’s landscapes and its four legged inhabitants that is most memorable. Grazing horses as they wander the fence stitched hills, the shadows that they, the hills and trees cast introduce us to, or remind us of, what is quickly slipping away. His vibrant photographs are not only a reminder of what we have to cherish in the present, but also what we must consider the possibility of losing in our near future. The risk is having, in that future, only these photographs of the Bluegrass to show – its beauty having been worn through.
True Bluegrass Stories
Kentucky Monthly is a magazine about the Kentucky we know today. In the belief that knowing the past is helpful in understanding the present, as well as the future, the periodical featured a section called “Looking Back.” Its writer, Tom Stephens, offers us his stories in this collection, “True Bluegrass Stories: History from the Heart of Kentucky.” He readily admits that writing about the history of the Bluegrass is something of an addiction. He says, “It’s true; I really don’t have a choiceÖWhenever I hear a new twist on an old storyÖabout an interesting person who lived here long ago, I feel absolutely compelled to learn more about it and, in turn, tell others.”
And tell he does – from tales of the Revolutionary soldiers who secured land for their families here, to Henry Clay’s arrival here at age 20 from his native Virginia, to the code of honor which is still referred to in today’s oaths, and on to the tumultuous times of the railways. From Lincoln, to bourbon and whiskey, the Shakers to women’s rights, Stephens provides a glimpse into the Kentucky that has held his passion for years.
You Can Go Anywhere
In a collection of essays that ranges in voice from history lesson, to philosophical wanderings, to hilarity at real life at its best, author Georgia Green Stamper covers a wide variety of subjects on her life in Kentucky. The small, seemingly insignificant details of that life and that of her family combine to create an important statement about the intricate parts that combine to form a whole – the community being the end result. Well worth the read for the wisdom and insights she provides, she even offers a recipe for World Peace Garlic Cheese Grits. A seventh generation Kentuckian who grew up on a tobacco farm, she is now a Lexington resident and, among other claims to fame, she is a regular commentator for NPR member station WUKY-FM affiliated with the University of Kentucky.