The HeART of Appalachia
Prestonsburg is located in the heart of Appalachia, somehow simultaneously in the river valleys and on the edge of mountains grazing the clouds. It’s not curious why art has been engraved in its natives for generations. Chances are Grandma can quilt a masterpiece. Grandpa can pick a banjo just fine, and Mama can carry a tune as sweet as a bird’s whistle. That’s Appalachia. On the other side of coal and in the midst of an Appalachian Renaissance, something quite unique has emerged—color, song, dance, and creativity.
Now, widely known for food, craft beer (or moonshine on a tougher day), music, and mountains–artistry within Prestonsburg is turning this laidback eastern Kentucky town into a place of vibrant discussion, entertainment, and healing through art.
On any given day, locals and visitors can step inside one of the emerging galleries. Collections feature a range of native and globally renowned artists. Now, all can take that inspiration a step further by experiencing single or continuous classes. A variety of courses are being offered, from youth art and skill building at For the Love of Art studios and Sew-in-Love or gatherings for adults at the Mountain Muse, City Perk, and You & Me Pottery. Creativity is now spewing onto the streets in the form of public murals.
Nashville may be the birthplace of country music, but eastern Kentucky is the birthplace of country music legends. Next door is Loretta Lynn’s inspirational and infamous “Butcher Holler”. Entertainment illuminates under the stars at the Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre, which will boast a 2020 summer season full of live music, including the Appalachian Strings & Things music festival, and theatre. Audiences sing along with popular names at Kentucky’s premier music venue, the Mountain Arts Center while local songwriters serenade the town nightly. The new energy can best be felt every July 4th, when art takes over the streets before one of the state’s largest firework shows at Star City Days.
Even the elk sing in Prestonsburg. Inspiration is unavoidable on any number of walking, biking, and horseback trails, including the Sugarcamp Mountain Trails or Jenny Wiley State Park. That’s if you aren’t taking in 50 miles of scenery atop the 18-hole Stonecrest Golf Course. If you prefer the stars with a side of air-conditioning, experience a variety of exhibits, experiments, and laser shows inside the East Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium.
FUTURE IN ARTS
Is there a place for artists to thrive in small-town America? Prestonsburg says absolutely. As the central industry has changed, seen in its place is an influx of musical talent, art-based businesses, and events. Art is maturing from the home-grown roots in which it’s always lived.