PADUCAH, Ky. — Here’s an arresting biking catechism — aback you anticipate of a charming, culturally significant, Southern river city, what springs to mind? All the accepted suspects, of course: New Orleans. Memphis. Charleston. Savannah.
One that apparently isn’t on your list, but aloof ability be the quintessential Southern river boondocks is Paducah. In this burghal at Kentucky’s acute western edge, four rivers ascertain the way of life. The Ohio and Tennessee rivers accommodated here, with the Mississippi and Cumberland rivers amid aloof a few afar away.
Where to Stay: The 1857 Hotel; the1857hotel.com. This beautifully adapted acreage aloof a block from Market Aboveboard and an accessible airing from the riverfront, has 10 apartment with adornment dating to the aboriginal 19th-century architectonics — alveolate ceilings and apparent brick walls.
The 1857 Hotel has a ample first-floor bar and, in the spirit of Paducah’s apish vibe, alternating exhibits in the accessible areas.
Where to Eat: The Freight House, freighthousefood.com; Max’s Brick Oven, facebook.com/maxsbrickoven; Kirchoff’s Bakery, kirchhoffsbakery.net
Walking through Paducah’s celebrated downtown, you’ll see elements of the added Southern gems — courtyards with tinkling fountains a la Savannah. Musical melodies trilling through the night aloof like in Memphis. And if you angle in advanced of Market Square, you ability anticipate you were at New Orleans’ French Market.
And yet Paducah has article that none of these cities do — appellation as a UNESCO Artistic City, one of alone nine in the United States.
Along with Santa Fe, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; Austin, Texas; San Antonio; Seattle; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; and Iowa City, Iowa, Paducah has been broke for alms article altered to the ability of its arena in one of seven categories: literature, music, design, film, media arts, gastronomy and crafts and folk art.
In Paducah’s case, the appellation is for crafts and folk art, due in ample allotment to its incomparable Civic Batt Museum.
If you appointment the architectonics cerebration that this is a adventure aback to the canicule of adornment bees and your great-grandmother’s check offerings, able-bodied you’re partly right.
Opened in 1991, the Civic Batt Architectonics does accommodate acumen into the history of quilt-making as a anatomy of American self-expression, but it goes far above that. Its three galleries accoutrement 27,000 aboveboard anxiety advertise the finest batt and cilia art in the world.
With 500 quilts in its abiding collection, the architectonics has article to clothing every aftertaste — from a baby batt the admeasurement of a ablution mat depicting pop figure Prince to an ballsy batt illustrating scenes from Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins’ adventure in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Spotting all the intricate capacity in this one would booty a day of continuing and staring.
If the quilts accept put you in an aesthetic anatomy of mind, airing a brace of streets over to the beach to see “Paducah Wall-to-Wall,” a three-block continued accumulating of murals by acclaimed American muralist Robert Dafford.
The accomplishments for these bright displays of art is the careful coffer congenital forth the coffer of the Ohio afterward a adverse 1937 flood. The 50 murals corrective on it characterize the city’s history from pre-Colonial canicule to the mid-20th century.
If by now you are aggressive to analysis your own arts smarts, arch over to Accomplish Paducah art gallery, area Kijsa Houseman, a classically accomplished accomplished artisan and muralist, offers a advanced ambit of hands-on projects from calligraphy and watercolor to book making.
As she guided me through a fun affair of authoritative photo transfers (similar to assumption rubbing), she confided her own aesthetics of art.
“I appetite Accomplish to be a abode area anybody of any akin can appear in and get creative,” she says.
ARTIST RELOCATION PROGRAM
Creative is a chat that is frequently acclimated to alarm Paducah. But adroitness wasn’t the aboriginal affair artisan Mark Barone had in apperception aback he began petitioning badge in the 1980s to aish a buzz berth anon beneath his window in the city’s Lower Boondocks neighborhood.
Night afterwards night, Barone watched as a abiding beck of bodies stood in band to use the phone. Knowing what that meant, he affianced in a one-man cause to apple-pie up the streets. Successful in his efforts, he again appropriate burghal fathers accompany in artists to alter biologic dealers in an attack to abate Paducah’s oldest celebrated neighborhood.
“Thus, began a affiliation amid the city, its citizens and Paducah Coffer & Trust which ultimately resulted in the nationally acclaimed Artisan Alteration Program,” says Nathan Brown, a ceramics artisan who additionally moonlights as a musician.
Begun in 2000 aback allotment for the arts civic had been acutely slashed, the affairs offered condoning artists the befalling to buy a abode in the adjacency at an acutely low amount (sometimes for as little as $1.)
Response was immediate. Soon, 50 artists were active in Lower Town’s alloyed Queen Anne dwellings, galleries announcement their assignment had popped up, and the alteration affairs had become a civic archetypal for application the arts as an bread-and-er development tool.
With the adjacency cautiously secured, abounding of the aboriginal artists confused on. Currently, 20 alive and assignment here, including Shand Stamper and Mitch Kimball, who confused from North Carolina 11 years ago.
Stamper, whose specialties are 3-D architectonics and metalsmithing, and Kimball, a ceramicist, painter and art educator, are amorous of Paducah’s river boondocks appearance in general, and their neighborhood’s appearance in specific.
“Along with painters, watercolorists, batik and cilia artists, there are a host of added artistic types who capital to alarm Lower Boondocks home,” says Kimball, “teachers, baby business owners, art collectors and chefs.”
Perhaps Stamper sums it up best.
“The Artisan Alteration Affairs able the accomplished citizenry to apprehend article different,” she says.
A (CULINARY) STAR IS BORN
The city’s adroitness doesn’t stop with acceptable artists. There is a able-bodied amphitheater scene, a symphony orra, 13 museums, and a ascent brilliant chef who is authoritative her mark not aloof in Paducah, but about the country.
Sara Bradley, chef/owner of the Freight House, afresh took her commonwealth cuisine to the James Beard Abode in New York, and by all accounts, wowed Manhattanites, who can be somewhat adult aback it comes to food.
As Paducah’s aboriginal farm-to-table restaurant, the mission is to accompany the freshest of bounded capacity (all sourced aural a day’s drive) to dishes that ascertain the acidity of the New South.
Bradley’s signature bowl is Kentucky Silver Carp with bean and augment succotash and Nashville hot sauce, but on my appointment I autonomous to accomplish a meal of several starters, such as the bittersweet beets with herbed yogurt and coriander; deviled eggs with Creole remoulade and parsley; algid aureate allotment soup with ginger, Meyer auto and peanuts, and shrimp cocktail with ambrosial horseradish, burnt auto and dill.
I can’t bethink aback I’ve had such a artistic dining experience, and that goes bifold for the French acknowledgment aliment pudding with bashed peaches, candied bacon and boilerplate bean ice chrism created by Bradley’s mother, Bebe, who doubles as her pastry chef.
The Freight House’s bar is as absorbing as its menu, with absolutely arresting archetypal cocktails, and in the accurate spirit of Kentucky, added than 300 bourbons to accept from.
Finally, don’t leave boondocks after endlessly for coffee at Piper’s, or if you’re hungry, for a pizza at the Mellow Mushroom. They are aloof two of the eight businesses that now absorb the city’s above Coca-Cola bottling plant.
As important as accepting your caffeine or pizza fix, is account at a battleground architectonics that is one of the best examples of Art Deco architectonics and architectonics that I accept anytime seen.
Standing in the bank on the 9,000-square-foot terrazzo asphalt floor, attractive up at the neon arch and admiring the across-the-board bifold staircase, I couldn’t advice but anticipate that this is aloof what I would apprehend from a UNESCO Artistic City.
Travel on 10/14/2018
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