Mary Yates | Courtesy of Mary Yates

The Umpteenth Annual $20 Art Show started in the mid-2000s as a way to showcase affordable art and further connect Louisville with its talented artists.

The event has changed venues more than a handful of times and organizers have come and gone, but now artists (and spouses) Mary Yates and Ron Jasin are at the helm.

It’s being held Saturday at Copper & Kings, where it’ll be for the foreseeable future.

Yates is a fine art photographer and photo illustrator, and she’s been involved with the $20 Art Show from the near beginning — as a participating artist those first few years. She uses photographic imagery in historic processes, digital images and video, and she says she enjoys creating pieces that comment on the relationship between time and identity.

If you’ve been to the $20 Art Show in recent years, you know it can get quite crowded, and there’s even a line that forms at the door before it opens. Yates believes it’s so successful because so many artists participate and give people the chance to own quality art at affordable prices.

“Plus, we’ve got many artists who participate as their only show of the year, so people know they can get something quite special at the show,” says Yates.

She believes it’s important to support local artists — and that support goes far beyond just an opportunity to earn some money around the holidays.

“If we want interesting, engaging communities, we must support that which is at the core of creative growth,” says Yates. “Artists, craftspeople and small business owners form the backbone of this ideal (community) and give a place its character and flavor. Without that, we’d all live a homogenous, dreary existence. I’ll take the art, please.”

“Connect” by Mary Yates

She says, like most who plan to attend, she’s most looking forward to checking off most of her Christmas list on Saturday.

“I always look forward to shopping at the show — I mean, there are so many incredible artists, it’s really hard not to go nuts,” she adds. “I get a lot of my Christmas gifts taken care of, and we always wind up with a few nice pieces for our home as well.”

The $20 Art Show is free to attend and runs from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, at Copper & Kings, 1121 E. Washington St.

Before Yates gears up for another successful event, we asked her some very important questions …

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

I really want to go back to Europe and spend a meaningful amount of time there. I’ve never lived abroad, but I think it would be exciting to be immersed in a culture and get to know people who have grown up there. I also like thinking about the history of a place and seeing remnants of that as an influence on the culture.

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

“Pêchage” by Man Ray, 1972

I had a cool Man Ray poster my mom got me as a gift. It wasn’t the typical photographic images he is known for but an image of a painted box with peaches in it. I’m not sure why she got it for me, but I thought it looked nice enough to insist on a frame for it.

The poster piqued my interest in Man Ray and Lee Miller and was my first real introduction to Surrealism, which has been a major influence on my artistic work.

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

I think Elmer Lucille Allen is engaged in our community and is a wonderful creative spirit and advocate for the arts. I like that she was a scientist and then became an artist later in life, because I think the marriage of art and science is a natural progression. I see her as a role model, and she absolutely deserves a key to the city.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

Chicken, pineapple and barbecue sauce have no business on a pizza. I’m game for pretty much anything else as long as I can share it with someone and have a good conversation.

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

That’s a hard question — does one pick wisdom or physicality? Let’s say 37. It’s younger than I am now but older than when I was a miserable ball of confusion.

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

Madeline Kahn

I think people tend to associate faces new to them with celebrities, so I’ve been told I resemble every dark-haired woman from Vivien Leigh to Mary Louise-Parker.

I’m not sure I agree with any of these likenesses, but my favorite association was Madeline Kahn — she was lovely and funny as hell, so if I even remotely resemble her, that’s a win.

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

People who know me would say I’d pick Nick Cave, but I actually think that would be terrifying, so I’ll say Hugh Jackman. He seems nice and approachable, plus he’s a triple threat — he could entertain me with song, dance and a little acting while we were trapped.

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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."