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Spotlight on the Arts: Celebrating the Derby

Louisville artist is inspired by the past to create official 2021 Derby Festival poster

By Matthew Moore

Andy Perez, a Louisville artist known for his collage and mixed media artwork, has been selected as the Kentucky Derby Festival’s official poster artist for the 2021 season.

“In a time when so much has changed, we wanted to continue this annual tradition,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “Past Festival posters can be found all around the community and we know this piece will be just as popular.”

Perez is a visual artist, illustrator and graphic designer. Originally from Kentuckiana, he received his Bachelors in Fine Arts from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and now lives in Louisville with his family.

Having grown up in the area, Perez has fond memories of the Festival artwork over the years. He recalls being in third grade and desperately wanting a T-shirt with the 1991 KDF poster on it. He finally got it and proudly wore it to the Pegasus Parade that year.

“It is definitely a full circle moment to be selected as the artist this year,” said Perez. “I’ve admired the Festival’s poster series since I was in elementary school. It’s an honor and pleasure to create this year’s image.”

Perez’s artwork is primarily executed with collage and acrylic paint along with other mixed media. His work has been featured in publications, galleries and commercials across the U.S. and internationally. Recently his portrait of Colonel Sanders (right) was featured in a French KFC commercial.

His unique collage style and desire to use recycled material is featured in the 2021 poster.

“The Derby Festival poster project provided the opportunity to combine painting and collage, and recycled materials into the art,” said Perez. “Sprinkled throughout the 2021 design are pieces from previous Derby Festival posters, to honor and celebrate traditions of the past in this year’s image.”

The Derby Festivals poster series was launched in 1981 with Peter Max’s expressionistic “Bluegrass Pegasus.” Since then, the posters have showcased a stylistic and geographical mix of artists and become a unique symbol of the community.

The 2021 official poster can be purchased for $30 at http://bit.ly/3lqgYH3 . Hand-signed posters are available for $45.

Artwork from previous Derby Festivals can be purchased through the festival’s website at KDF.org.