LEXINGTON, Ky. — This year the University of Kentucky Art Museum will honor outgoing Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, an inspiring leader, businessman and passionate art collector at An Inspired Evening, the museum’s annual fundraising soiree and an unforgettable night that recognizes individuals who make a significant contribution to the art and culture of the commonwealth.
The event will take place 7-10 p.m. May 17, and will feature fabulous food and drink, special performances, and wonderful art throughout the galleries.
Central to all his efforts in areas of job creation, urban growth and efficient government, has been Gray’s tireless advocacy for the arts and culture sector, which continues to grow. From his days campaigning, Gray noted thriving economies went hand-in-hand with vibrant arts communities. Pledging to not consider art an “extra,” he not only championed the re-envisioned arts and entertainment district proposed around Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center, but also created a dedicated funding source for large public art projects and pushed through the reorganization of a commission tasked with developing a public art master plan.
Gray states, “When quality of life is the key driver for economic vitality in a city, having a powerful venue for visual arts is essential. That’s why the UK Art Museum and Lexington’s future are so closely linked, perhaps now more than ever. I celebrate their free admission policy that allows anyone to see a wonderful art collection and varied exhibits, and to participate in educational programs.”
Gray’s passion for supporting the arts has also included stout advocacy of the arts and humanities community at UK. He and his family’s company, Gray Construction, have been friends to the university, College of Fine Arts and the Art Museum for more than 30 years. Gray has loaned works to exhibitions from his own collection and made gifts of art to the museum’s permanent collection. Also, through UK’s Gaines Center for the Humanities, Gray has supported an annual trip for the senior Gaines Fellows to visit museums and special exhibitions in New York to enhance their appreciation of the arts.
“The Art Museum has always considered Jim Gray one of its biggest advocates,” said Museum Director Stuart Horodner. “He has been a generous lender and donor, and a critical ally in our support of local artists. Jim sees the arts as a bridge connecting Lexington to itself and the rest of the world, and that aligns perfectly with our vision. We look forward to the opportunity to celebrate Jim and everything he has done for our community.”
Proceeds from An Inspired Evening support all of the ambitious exhibitions and public programs UK Art Museum presents throughout the year.