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Zombie Artist Submits Unique Entry in Local Art Competition

People familiar with artist Billy Tackett’s Zombie art might have been surprised at his entry in Behringer-Crawford Museum’s 2014 freshART competition.

The self-described “Zombification specialist,” who is nationally known for turning iconic portraits of Uncle Sam, Marilyn Monroe and Santa Claus into horrific ghouls, took first place with a delicate, “splatter-art” image of an apple tree which he created by dipping his fingers into pots of paint and dabbing them across the canvas.

But diversity of style and spontaneity of subject are two of the hallmarks of freshART, where dozens of artists spend a Saturday at Devou Park, creating original works of art which are then whisked back to the museum and auctioned off just hours later. The event, which also includes a silent auction, cocktails, music and an elegant catered dinner on the museum’s terrace, benefits BCM’s youth education programs.

Tickets to freshART 2015 are $100 until September 4, $125 after, available online at or by calling 859-491-4003. Since the inception of freshART, more than a half million dollars has been raised, bringing educational and cultural activities to nearly a quarter of a million area children.

Tackett, who participated in freshART for the first time last year, said he moved from Zombie to splatter art “because I felt it was time. Zombies are fun and they’re still a part of what I do, but I have much more to say than just that. Moving into the splatter art has added a whole new language to my vocabulary, it seems.”

He described his experience at freshART as “a great time. It was like experiencing the artistic process in fast- forward: conception, execution, display, public reaction and -- fingers crossed -- a sale. It’s as close to instant gratification an artist can get.”

FreshART is a unique experience made even better because it’s for a great cause,” he added. “I’m pretty excited about 2015’s event.”

freshART 2015 is limited to 30 of the region’s finest artists, selected from a pool of applicants. A portion of the sale price of each piece will go to the artist, the balance donated to the museum. Submitted artworks will be judged by a panel of experts with cash prizes awarded to the first, second and third-place entries. In addition to the live freshART auction, a “Next-Gen” classification showcasing high school and college-age artists and their works for sale, plus a silent auction of art and art-related packages, supplement the fun and excitement of the evening.  

This year’s event also offers several charitable opportunities. According to BCM Executive Director Laurie Risch, freshART patrons can opt to purchase one of the auctioned works and donate it to a local school or charity of their choice. “This is a wonderful way for people whose walls are filled at home to get in on the auction fun and make valuable contributions to the community,” she said.

Buyers can stretch their dollars by purchasing half-price “Bidding Bucks” to buy freshART works and silent auction items, “One hundred dollars gets you $200 in Bidding Bucks, $50 gets you $100, and so on,” Risch said. Bidding Bucks must be spent on one item, and any unspent money goes to the museum’s outreach programs.

The public is invited to observe and interact with the artists at work in Devou Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 12 and to visit the museum, which will have free admission that entire day. 

From Behringer-Crawford Museum/Photo: Billy Tackett (provided)

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