Arts and Culture

Kentucky art enthusiast and philanthropist Al Shands recently announced a newly-formed grant created for Kentucky artists to further their craft.

Shands is a longstanding Trustee of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville and sits on the Advisory Board of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. For many years, he has been a member of New York’s Whitney National Committee and the Museum of Modern Art’s International Council. But, what is perhaps most memorable to Louisvillians is his legacy as a collector.

In the late 1980s, Shands’ wife, Mary, was asked to head up the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation (now the KMAC Museum). In sourcing work for the institution, the couple soon developed a love of sculpture, particularly regional ceramics. Eventually, by the middle of the decade, the size and scale of their personal collection began to outgrow their home. This led the couple to build a home and personal museum in Crestwood, which they christened Great Meadows.

Since the late 1980s, the collection has grown in and around Great Meadows, creating a unique fusion of art, architecture, and nature. The space is now a popular spot for visitors– but it is also the location where Shands, now 87, was inspired to assist a future generation of Kentucky artists.

Since the passing of his wife in 2009, Shands has turned his attention toward philanthropy. That led to the inception of the newly founded Great Meadows Foundation grant, named for the home he and Mary shared.

The grant program promotes the growth and development of visual art in Kentucky by helping improve the skills, resources and knowledge of local artists.

Recipients are encouraged to travel outside the state to connect with mentors and exhibitions that speak to their personal work.

Grant amounts range between $500 and $5,000.