Netflix’s ‘Queen’s Gambit’ continues to inspire Lexington arts groups

·4 min read

With its partial Lexington setting and roots, Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” the mid-20th century story of a female prodigy in the male-dominated world of chess, caused a bit of a local stir late last year. And with that excitement, Lexington business and arts groups celebrated, made strategic chess-like moves and capitalized on the Queen theme.

VisitLex came up with a driving tour, KET produced a new documentary about the author, Walter Tevis, who was raised in Lexington and graduated from the University of Kentucky, where he later taught. The Lexington Philharmonic has planned a Queens Rule concert featuring the music of the Emmy-winning streaming show. The concert, originally planned for Oct. 16, has been rescheduled to April 9, 2022, due to COVID.

And of course there’s the Queen’s Gambit Harmon room at the 21c Museum Hotel on Main Street.

The decor of that hotel room features a mid-century mod style, the same look the streaming miniseries was praised for. Now the Headley-Whitney Museum is picking up on that in its current exhibit, “Informed by Nature,” featuring works by three artists including Alex K. Mason, who designed the wallpaper and fabric for the room at the 21c in downtown Lexington.

One glance at Mason’s “Lola Diptych B” on the Headley-Whitney website will tell you why the Versailles artist got that gig. The exhibit features a nature mural by Mason where patrons enter translating her designs and paintings to wallpapers and textiles.

The “Informed by Nature” exhibit at the Headley-Whitney Museum features work by Versailles artist Alex K. Mason, who translates her designs and paintings to wallpapers and textiles. Her mid-century mod style was used to help decorate the Queen’s Gambit Harmon room at the 21c Museum Hotel.
The “Informed by Nature” exhibit at the Headley-Whitney Museum features work by Versailles artist Alex K. Mason, who translates her designs and paintings to wallpapers and textiles. Her mid-century mod style was used to help decorate the Queen’s Gambit Harmon room at the 21c Museum Hotel.
A mural by Versailles artist Alex K. Mason at the entrance of the “Informed by Nature” exhibit at the Headley-Whitney Museum.
A mural by Versailles artist Alex K. Mason at the entrance of the “Informed by Nature” exhibit at the Headley-Whitney Museum.

Mason is joined in the exhibit by Lexington mixed-media artist Helene Steene and the macro-photography of Jennifer Roberts, an art history professor at Harvard.

Mason will hold a gallery talk at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 3, Steene will lead talks at 1:30 Oct. 17 and Nov. 7. The exhibit runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fri., Sat., and Sun. through Nov. 14. Admission is $10. Visit headley-whitney.org or call 859-255-6653 for more information.

UK Symphony Orchestra returns

Like most arts groups, the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra was off the stage for the 2020-21 season. Now that it’s back, and there’s a lot to do.

There are some major works on the schedule such as Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 1 ‘Titan’” Feb. 18 and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” April 22. Making the point that orchestral music is still a growing, evolving genre, the season also features 10 pieces by living composers, including six women, and director John Nardolillo says the orchestra has been working with some of them.

There are also several student soloists and conductors on the schedule, which was set to kick off Sept. 24 with Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” and two Kentucky premieres.

The next concert, Oct. 29, will feature student conductors Sean Radermacher and Merih Erdem Özden and “Suite from ‘Frankenstein’” by UK composer-in-residence Joseph Baber.

For complete information on the season, visit finearts.uky.edu/music or call 859-257-4900.

UK Theatre opens with ‘Thanksgiving Play’

Speaking of UK Fine Arts, UK Theatre opens its season with ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ by Larissa FastHorse of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and a 2020 MacArthur Fellow. In the satire of “performative wokeness,” as FastHorse has referred to it, four white people try to devise a historically accurate first Thanksgiving play for elementary schools in honor of Native American Heritage Month, which is November.

American Theatre magazine listed this as one of the most produced plays of the 2019-20 season.

Shows are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 15, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and 2 p.m. Oct. 17 in the Briggs Theatre in the UK Fine Arts Building, 465 Rose St. Visit scfatickets.com or call 859-257-4929 for tickets.

Lexington poet new host of ‘Slowdown’ podcast

Lexington-based poet Ada Limón is the new host of “The Slowdown,” a daily poetry podcast from American Public Media and the Poetry Foundation. Limón is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “The Carrying,” which won a National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Her prior book, “Bright Dead Things,” was a finalist for the National Book Award. Season three of “The Slowdown” started Sept. 21 and you can find it at slowdownshow.org or, as they say, wherever you get your podcasts.

Rich Copley is a former arts writer and editor for the Herald-Leader who continues to enjoy Lexington’s arts and culture.



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