Kentucky Muse

Kentucky Muse

Celebrates the world of creative output and spirit found within the Bluegrass state. The series brings viewers provocative and thoughtful documentaries about artists, issues, events, and places that reflect Kentuckians' diverse and exciting means of expression and offer a fresh perspective on contemporary artistic life.

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All Past Episodes

Kentucky by Design: Kentucky Muse

27:40 | #801

The program explores Kentucky's contributions to The Index of American Design, a Federal Art Project work relief program established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to document what was uniquely American about utilitarian art in this country.

Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame Ceremony 2016

58:11 | #703

The 2016 induction ceremony honors Bobbie Ann Mason, James Lane Allen, Harlan Hubbard, Alice Hegan Rice, and Jean Ritchie.

Merle Travis: Guitar Man

30:00 | #702

Raised in the Western Kentucky coalfields during the Great Depression, songwriter and guitarist Merle Travis grew to worldwide stardom by the 1940s and 1950s. Today he is one of country music's most celebrated stylistic pioneers. His life story and his musical legacy are the focus of the documentary, Merle Travis: Guitar Man. Perhaps best recognized as the original balladeer of the classic "Sixteen Tons" as well as hits like "Nine Pound Hammer" and "Dark as a Dungeon" - which all drew inspiration from the struggles of coal miners - Travis, who died in 1983, is also celebrated as the developer of a unique thumb-picking guitar-playing style eventually dubbed "Travis pickin.'"

Kentucky Chautauqua

58:04 | #701

Follow actors as they go through the audition and extensive preparation project to join the Kentucky Humanities Council's Kentucky Chautauqua program. The program includes performances portraying Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Col. Harland Sanders, Lucy Bakewell Audubon, Mary Settles, and other characters from Kentucky history.

Actors Theatre of Louisville

59:14 | #604

Celebrating its 50th year, the renowned repertory theater has become a local institution with a national reputation. With an emphasis on new American plays and a strong apprenticeship program, run for years by Jon Jory, the theater has launched numerous careers.

Dale Daniel Leys: Drawing Life

22:55 | #603

This profile of artist Dale Daniel Leys explores his inspiration from nature and science, his work as a professor at Murray State University, and the diverse works he has created over a career spanning more than 40 years.


29:12 | #602

A performance and interview with Appalatin, a Kentucky-based musical group whose music fuses Latin and Appalachian styles, creating an upbeat and eclectic sound.

Of Hands and Hearts: The Kentucky Guild of Artists

58:00 | #601

A variety of artisans from across Kentucky discuss their work, the value of their membership in the guild, and the history and goals of Kentucky's oldest art and craft organization. A 2013 KET production.

Frank X Walker: I Dedicate This Ride

27:29 | #503

Through poetry and drama, Kentucky writer and Affrilachian Poets founder Frank X Walker illuminates the life of 19th century African-American jockey Isaac Murphy. The program includes dramatic segments performed by Lexington Children's Theatre.

Wendy Whelan: Moments of Grace

56:53 | #502

Interviews and performance segments take you into the life of New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan, a Louisville native who began dancing with the Louisville Ballet Company as a child.

Tracks of Imagination

57:20 | #501

Meet the creative team at the Alexandria, Kentucky-based studio Applied Imagination, whose holiday and seasonal train displays meld botanical design and architecture, delighting crowds at botanical gardens across the United States.

Julius Friedman: Picture This

26:29 | #404

A profile of Louisville graphic designer and photographer Julius Friedman explores his extensive body of work, including innovative posters for non-profit organizations, and shows him at work on current projects.

Tin Can Buddha: Shades of Blue

56:51 | #403

Tin Can Buddha (Mitch Ivanoff, Rodney Hatfield, and Lee Carroll) is joined by Caroline Dahl, Harry Pickens, Gail Wynters and other Kentucky performers in a blues- and piano-focused concert recorded at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. A 2011 KET production.

Harry Dean Stanton: Crossing Mulholland

52:47 | #402

Kris Kristofferson, Billy Bob Thornton, critic Leonard Maltin are among those interviewed in this profile of Kentucky-born character actor Harry Dean Stanton. The documentary explores Stanton's early life in Kentucky, his love of music, and his extensive work in films, including his leading role in Paris, Texas. A 2011 KET production.

Painting with Glass

26:40 | #401

This documentary by Seattle independent producer Marc C. Pingry follows the creation of Kentucky stained-glass artist Guy Kemper's large public art commission for a major light rail station in Seattle. From Kemper's Woodford County design studio to German fabrication plant visits, to the installation and opening, the process is followed from conception to completion.

Ed McClanahan

56:40 | #304

Part of the acclaimed KET series Signature, this 1995 documentary profiles author and University of Kentucky professor Ed McClanahan, from his experiences as a member of the Merry Pranksters in California in the 1960s to his sprawling novel The Natural Man and his autobiographical work Famous People I Have Known. A 2010 KET production.

Joe Molinaro: Hands in Clay

27:25 | #303

Follow Kentucky ceramics artist Joe Molinaro as he works in his pottery studio, teaches students at Eastern Kentucky University, and studies indigenous pottery in South America. A 2010 KET production.

Harry Pickens: In the Garden of Music

27:05 | #302

Louisville pianist Harry Pickens performs a variety of selections of jazz and original pieces and shares his ideas on music and its ability to bring people together. A 2010 KET production.

88 Keys, 300 Years

27:17 | #301

This celebration of the 300th anniversary of the piano features Dr. Diane Earle of Kentucky Wesleyan and the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra. Earle tells about the history of the instrument and performs piano works by a variety of composers. A 2009 KET production.

Finding Higher Ground

58:40 | #202

Interviews and performance excerpts show how music and drama bring people in Harlan, Kentucky, together to talk about a life-and-death challenge facing the community—prescription drug abuse.

Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story

58:00 | #203

The long-awaited return of a 1996 KET production about the remarkable life of folk legend Jean Ritchie, from her childhood in Eastern Kentucky to international recognition.

Fire and Motion

57:40 | #201

The vibrant glasswork of Stephen Rolfe Powell and the intricate, automata sculpture of Steve Armstrong reveal the distinctive energies of two gifted Kentucky artists.

A Novel Approach

58:00 | #106

Visits the homes of three Kentucky writers for conversations on inspirations and the writing process. Sheila Williams of Newport is the author of Dancing on the Edge of the Roof and On the Right Side of a Dream. Kirby Gann of Louisville is the author of The Barbarian Parade and Our Napoleon in Rags. And Silas House of Eastern Kentucky is the author of Clay's Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, and The Coal Tattoo.

Ellis Wilson—So Much to Paint

57:06 | #105

Follows the career of Kentucky native Ellis Wilson (1899-1977), an African-American artist whose passion for painting took him from his hometown of Mayfield to a successful career in New York. His work captured the daily lives of African Americans and helped open doors for many younger black artists. This update of a 2000 KET documentary includes a look at Ellis Wilson works discovered since the program's premiere.

Coal Black Voices

56:54 | #104

The Affrilachian Poets, an ensemble of African-American and minority writers from Appalachia and the South, challenge the notions of an all-white region and culture and celebrate their African heritage and rural roots. Their work gives voice to the pleasures and power of family, land, good food, artistic community, music, and transformation.

Murder, They Wrote

56:41 | #103

A behind-the-scenes look at the drama, suspense, and fun of the first International Mystery Writers' Festival, held at Owensboro's RiverPark Center in June 2007. This KET production follows several plays, including an award-winning entry by a Kentucky native, from rehearsals to final presentation.

Mountain Music Gatherin'

57:03 | #102

For more than three decades, players and fans of traditional music have assembled annually at the J.P. Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin' in Olive Hill for performances by master musicians and rising young stars as well as come-one, come-all day and night jam sessions.

Master of Still Life: Mary Ann Currier

56:40 | #101

The still lifes and other paintings of Louisvillian Mary Ann Currier are recognized as remarkable contributions to American realism. And her influence as a teacher has shaped generations of young Kentucky artists.

Muse Moments: Jacob Isenhour

Jacob Isenhour is a visual artist from a family full of artists and architects. Isenhour talks about his journey through school at Western Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati and his collaborative mixed media project SLAPface. After moving back to Jessamine County he felt called to his family roots of architecture and built and designed his own home.

Muse Moments: Berndnaut Smilde

Berndnaut Smilde is a contemporary visual artist from the Netherlands. KET caught up with him while he was exhibiting at the Land of Tomorrow Gallery in Louisville. Smilde is known as the "cloud artist" because he creates awe-inspiring photographs of "clouds" he makes in architecturally interesting spaces.

Muse Moment: Cindy Builds A House

Cindy Johnson, lead botanical architect for the northern Kentucky studio Applied Imagination, shows the creation process for a botanical representation of the Carson Mansion of Eureka, California, a notable example of Victorian architecture. The model uses the natural textures and shapes of plant materials to express each elaborate detail.

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