Harlan Hubbard (American, 1900-1988)

Shantyboat on the Ohio River , undated

Watercolor on paper

Photography by David Marshall

Copyright: Bill Caddell


Afloat: An Ohio River Way of Life

 Inspired by the life, art, writing and environmentalism of Harlan Hubbard (1900-1988), several museums, galleries and academic organizations have coordinated in focusing in the year 2019 on the Ohio River.  The shared purpose of this mutually supportive group is to call attention to the River, its beauty, its needs, and its unmet potential. The consortium has the ambition of providing a platform for ecological groups in renewing and recasting attention to the Ohio River.  An additional goal is to create partnerships between arts, history, academic and environmental organizations.


Kain Gallery, University of Louisville Special Collections, Ground Floor, Ekstrom Library

"We Cast Off at Daybreak,” An Exhibition of Notebooks, Manuscripts, Watercolors and Drawings by Harlan Hubbard

January 9 - May 11, 2019

The primary repository of Hubbard documents will share its extensive collection of Hubbard’s art and writings.

 Frazier History Museum, 829 Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Harlan Hubbard Watercolors

February 20 - May 5, 2019

The least known but arguably the best of Hubbard’s artistic media, are his watercolors.  Fresh, improvisatory, and spontaneous, the watercolors are the visual equivalents to the lively brief descriptions of the natural world in his journals. This will be the largest exhibition of Hubbard watercolors to date.  The University Press of Kentucky is scheduled to publish a book on the watercolors in 2020.

 Filson Historical Society, Bingham Gallery, 1310 South Third Street, Louisville, KY 40208

Shantyboat Louisville

January 4 - May 10, 2019

 From the 1850s to the 1950s Louisville had a thriving shantyboat community by the outlet of Bear-grass Creek. The exhibition will document the community and its underground economy that depended on fishing, basket making and harvest mussel shells for buttons.

 Portland Museum, 2308 Portland Avenue,  Louisville, KY 40212

A Secret History of River People

June/July – August, 2019         

An art installation by Wes Modes.  He will bring his shantyboat down the Ohio in the summer of 2019.

Modes is creating an archive of personal histories of people who live along major American rivers.

 garner narrative contemporary fine art, 642 East Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202


January 16 - March 29, 2019

Inspired by Harlan Hubbard’s insistence on a life of dignity and self-determination, Angie Reed Garner reflects on contemporary forces in opposition thereto. Garner uses shantyboats, Asian Carp and mules as symbols in her large, lyrical canvases.

 Swanson Contemporary Gallery,  638 E. Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Currents: Contemporary Art along the Banks of the Ohio

January 4 - February 9, 2019

An exhibition of recent art in several media, depicting or inspired by the Ohio River.

 Asia Institute-Crane House, 1244 S. 3rd Street, Louisville, KY 40203

Rivers – Exploring Asian Rivers and the Ohio River

January 2 - December 31, 2019

The exhibition compares the Ohio, the Ganges, and the Yangtze Rivers in term of use, characteristics, history and folklore.

 Carnegie Center for Art and History, 201 East Spring Street, New Albany, IN 47105

Nautical Nostalgia: New Albany and the Steamboat Era

June 14 - August 31, 2019

From 1818 until the 1880s, New Albany was one of the most prolific steamboat-building cities. The history of this core industry will be told through art, photographs, ephemera and relics of the period.

 Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad

Ongoing Exhibition

The Ohio was the symbolic and literal boundary between enslavement and freedom for thousands of African Americans. The exhibition is focused on the heroic contributions of the men and women of New Albany who aided the freedom seekers.

 New Albany Flow Park

Anticipated completion, fall 2019

A collaboration between the Carnegie and the community, the park will be placed beside the Ohio River between the Amphitheater and the Sherman Minton Bridge.  This non-traditional public art project features steamboat, bridges, and Ohio River Valley landscape and waterscape motifs.

 Commonwealth Center for Humanities and Society, University of Louisville

The Center will organize a program with many possible themes, including the history, geography, literary associations and biology of the Ohio River, or its role as a borderland between north and south.

 Additional Partners

The Kentucky Waterways Alliance and River Fields are the first of our environmental partners.  We will continue to add to the “AFLOAT” partnership.



Checks may be made payable to the Community Foundation of Louisville with 'Afloat Fund' written in the memo line, and may be mailed to the following address:

Community Foundation of Louisville
325 W. Main Street, Suite 1110
Louisville, KY 40202

Those who would like to make a stock gift can contact our Controller, James Hill at jamesh@cflouisville.org or 502-855-6949 for stock transfer instructions.

You may make a secure credit card donation to support the Afloat: An Ohio River Way of Life Fund below.

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Kate Biagi-Rickert
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325 W. Main Street, Suite 1110 / Louisville, KY 40202 / 502.585.4649