NOW RUNNING: Bourbon with HeART Presents World’s First Bourbon Barrel Bow Tie Art Exhibit

Bourbon with HeART's "Bowtied Together" charity exhibit at Galt House Hotel. Courtesy

PRESS RELEASE From Bourbon with HeART

Bourbon with HeART, Kentucky’s first and only arts-focused bourbon charity, announced its newest art exhibit, “Bowtied Together.” The exhibit will take place at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville (140 N Fourth St.) throughout April and will showcase 50 wooden bowties, hand-carved out of bourbon barrels and transformed into wearable art by 25 Kentucky-area artists. 

Bourbon with HeART, founded by Morgan Hancock, prides itself on tying together artists from various backgrounds and areas of expertise to create works that are as unique as the artists who design them. Like the perfect bourbon pairing, “Bowtied Together” takes wooden bowties, hand-carved out of old bourbon barrels by US Military veterans from Cruise Customs, and marries them with local artists to create beautiful art for many to enjoy. 

“We’re thrilled to showcase the talent of our local artists and honor the service of our veterans with this unique exhibit,” said Hancock, a US Army Veteran herself. “Our goal is to use the influence and popularity of bourbon to raise funds, awareness, and education around the local art community. We’re committed to providing better access and first-class arts experiences to every person in Kentucky.”

Cruise Customs provides bourbon barrel products carved by veterans. Hancock explained, “As a veteran, I appreciate the work Cruise Customs does of providing therapy through this craft for those suffering from PTSD. I connect with their mission – they share that bourbon barrels once had a great purpose. Veterans once had a great purpose. Through this work they are helping them find a new one.”

The exhibit opened April 1st at the Galt House, the official hotel of the Kentucky Derby, and will run throughout the city’s famous Derby season. Each of the 25 artists was given two bowties to transform. The bowties were purchased via sponsorships from local businesses. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, for which Morgan Hancock was named “Visionary of the Year” for 2023. Attendees will also be invited to vote for their favorite bowtie design. The winning artist will be awarded a cash prize along with a donation to the charity of their choice.

For more information on Bourbon with HeART and the “Bowtied Together” exhibit, visit


Heather French Henry 

Heather is a Kentucky native, a former Miss America, and an advocate for veterans. She is also an artist who is excited to be participating in this project. 

Katie Petry 

Katie is an artist, wife, and mother to two young girls. She spent two years at the UofL School of Fine Arts but has otherwise been self-taught. Part of her artistic journey has involved finding artistic mediums that are manageable for her chronic illness.

Bryan Hinkle

Bryan is born and raised in southeastern Kentucky and discovered painting after his father passed away seven years ago. He has donated paintings to multiple charities, from local to national. 

Kenneth Burney 

Kenneth’s paintings are created on canvas using acrylic paint. His current body of work is focused on a mash-up of impressionism and improvisational painting. Much of his work is music-related, with individuals playing musical instruments. 

Kelly Shackelford Smith 

Kelly is a Kentucky-born artist who has been a Louisvillian for nearly 17 years. She typically considers herself an acrylic painter, but she also enjoys turning original artwork into wearable art. She has a passion for color and disco balls, especially when used to pay homage to Louisville, the disco ball capital of the world.

Bobby Wheeler

Bobby is an artist and jewelry designer from Louisville with an appreciation of the arts in many forms. His style varies from abstract, space-related images to commissioned pieces such as dogs, people, and even murals. He uses different mediums including acrylic, oils, and pastels for his paintings and magnetic hematite paired with natural stones and crystals for his jewelry designs.

Sheila Fox 

Designing wooden bow ties and frames from bourbon barrel wood is incredibly unique and presents a fun challenge for Sheila as an artist. She looks forward to exploring the character and history of the wood and incorporating it into her designs to create pieces that are aesthetically pleasing and carry a story.

Brittany Rice  

Brittany loves the concept and mission behind Bourbon with HeART. It allows artists like her to showcase their work to a larger audience while doing good and raising funds for local charities.

Josh Bova 

Texas born and Kentucky-settled, Josh is a US Army Veteran and father of two with a passion for woodworking, running, traveling, and bourbon. His life centers around swim meets, soccer games, music recitals, and sleepovers. For his day job, he is a trained geographer currently employed by Yum Brands in Louisville.  

Nabeel Qureshi 

Nabeel is a local comic artist living in Louisville who is most excited to participate in this project as it offers a chance to display his art in his home city.

Mike Hall        

A veteran of the US Army, Mike has lived in Kentucky his entire life except for during his time serving. He is originally from eastern Kentucky but currently lives in Corbin, Kentucky. He has done art for as long as he can remember.  

Rob Cam 

Rob is currently an Automotive Designer working in Detroit. But growing up in the Kentuckiana area, Kentucky’s Bourbon culture and art scene are still near and dear to his heart. He even created the company “Meeting Minutes,” where he creates custom bottle artwork. 

Madeline Flynn 

Madeline is from Versailles, Kentucky, and has a full-time job in Marketing and Communications but has painted her entire life. In 2019, she started a business painting champagne and bourbon bottles for parties, weddings, and other celebrations. 

Kellene J Turner 

Being a transplant to this beautiful state since 2003, Kellene found a home in the mountains of this bountiful land and people. She is a full-time muralist and fine artist mainly working in acrylic paints. Besides promoting travel and adventure across the state, what she loves more than anything is her work and how it alters the future. 

Diego E Najera 

Diego is originally from California and now lives in Louisville, Kentucky. This is his first time displaying his art publicly. 

Maggie Taylor 

Maggie was born in Louisville and stills live in the city today, working at the Louisville Zoo. She primarily works with gouache and loves creating art depicting animals or landscapes.

Sam Schad     

Sam works primarily in cast bronze and aluminum, incorporating encaustic media as a binder for cast objects. He plans to cast aluminum polished versions of the bowties and then embed these in colorful/mystical encaustic mixed media with historical images related to Kentucky.         

Mike Young    

Mike is excited to be a part of this project and thinks it’s an interesting art assignment. He’s itching to get working and is thrilled that the exhibit helps local charities.

Ashya Watkins          

Ashya Denise Watkins was born and raised in Louisville Kentucky. She works in the field of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) as a Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT). She has always been engaged with creativity. She completed her first commissioned mural in January 2019. Since then, she has grown in her craft, now presenting her art at conferences. 

Sarah Horrar 

Sarah is a self-taught artist who lives in southern Indiana. She has painted live events at the Speed Art Museum and illustrated a children’s book in 2021. She works primarily in acrylic and watercolor and loves portrait work and natural themes from the world. 

Michele Strotman

Michele, also known as Crazy Chicken Lady Art, is from Hardinsburg, Indiana, and creates colorful, fun paintings. 

Chahta Noir   

Chahta Noir is excited to celebrate African and Indigenous symbols/traditions in her work. She is inspired by joy and history. She feels art is a safe haven and looks forward to inviting others to share that freedom.

Karen Leightty                                       

Karen is a local artist and a cancer survivor. She currently has small B cell Lymphoma but is in remission. Her mediums are oil, acrylic, and photography. She is a gallery owner in Lagrange, Kentucky, and teaches children and adults to be creative with painting.

Elizabeth Haigh

Elizabeth just moved to Louisville and wants to get involved with everything the city has to offer! She finds inspiration to create from constant curiosity and play.

Chris Cruise 

Growing up in southern Mississippi, Chris is a veteran who served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, an Air Defense Unit. After four years of active duty, he left the Army and moved with his wife, Amber, to Kentucky. Chris founded Cruise Customs in 2017, building flag displays alongside his fellow veterans. 

Note to the Editor:

The mission of Bourbon with HeART is to leverage the influence and popularity of Kentucky’s most iconic spirit, bourbon, to raise funds, awareness, and education around the local art community. The organization is committed to providing better access and delivering first-class arts experiences to every person in Kentucky regardless of age, race, class, gender, or ability.