Lynn Dunbar with some of her work | Courtesy of Lynn Dunbar Bayus

For the Louisville artist Lynn Dunbar Bayus, 2018 was a milestone year. Not only did her work appear on both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks posters, but you can now see her serene oil painting on a bottle of Woodford Reserve

Dunbar Bayus chose to paint the Woodford Reserve Distillery’s historic Scale House for the special holiday bottle, which is released nationwide. The small cozy house is snow-covered and surrounded by bourbon barrels, snowy landscaping and holiday lights. 

Dunbar Bayus tells Insider she was approached by representatives from Woodford Reserve who had seen her artwork around town and wanted her to do the holiday bottle. She then toured the distillery in Versailles and took many photographs.

Lynn Dunbar Bayus’ artwork on the Woodford holiday bottle | Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

“It probably took about two months or less from inception to completion,” she says about creating that particular oil painting for the bottle. 

Dunbar Bayus started out in advertising but very quickly realized it wasn’t a profession for her. She contemplated going back to college and getting into therapy, and then she took an oil painting class and found her true calling, she says.

She did get a master’s degree in social work, and ever since then has been painting, taking classes and workshops from prominent artists around the country. Now she’s been creating art for more than 30 years.

Looking ahead, Dunbar Bayus says 2019 looks clear at the moment, with some commission work and also a group show at Swanson Contemporary Gallery in January.

As she raises a toast to her accomplishments in 2018 with a glass of that Woodford Reserve bourbon, we asked her some very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

There are two parts to my Bucket List — places I want to visit and things I want to accomplish. I was honored to create the Derby and Oaks posters and the Woodford Reserve Holiday Bottle this year. I never imagined I would do them, so that surpassed any Bucket List item. 

After doing those creative projects, I’ve thought of other things I’d like to do, like creating a U.S. postage stamp, the White House Christmas ornament or a new series of sculptures, which is a new medium for me.

As for places to go, I’d like to go to Croatia on the coast, do yoga and paint for a month.

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

Well, I can’t remember if we were allowed to hang posters on our walls, but my favorite poster artist of the day was Peter Max.

Peter Max did the Derby poster in 2000. | Courtesy of

I loved his flowery, colorful way of looking at things. I think Peter Max did some “Yellow Submarine” Beatles images and the Derby poster.

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

 I would give the key to the city to Barbara Sexton Smith. She is the councilwoman who covers downtown and the West End/Portland area. She is a dynamo and gets things done. Would love to see her as mayor in the future.

Another person I’d give the key to is Ed Hamilton. He is a fabulous sculptor and a contemporary African-American hero.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

Mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, sausage, mushrooms, olives and green peppers.

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

That’s a tough one. Would I have to go back in time to who I was at that point? Or could I have all the knowledge I have now?

I think a better question for me would be on time travel. I’d love to go back to 1825 in Kentucky and see what it was like then. Love to see the trappers, the Indians, the settlers and how the landscape was changing. How people lived with no plumbing or cars.

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

We’re guessing Lewis and Clark don’t know what an elevator is. | Art by Edgar Samuel Paxson

When I was younger, people told me I look like Cher. Now they tell me my voice sounds like Madame Secretary.

Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

Well, I always enjoyed being stuck in an elevator with my husband, Tony, but if not him, how about Lewis and Clark or Daniel Boone. I’d love to talk to them about their journeys.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle ( She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."