Home Arts Lexington artist Gordon Gildersleeve has died

Lexington artist Gordon Gildersleeve has died

“Life is so precious, and I fear so many of us are so busy planning and waiting to enjoy it that it may sail right past at that last minute to board. I am often afraid It will be gone in the blink of an eye and we’ll think, wait, what? No, no, wait, hold on, that can’t be right…”

—Gordon Gildersleeve, Ace, 2021

“Oh my goodness, the moon…. I want a scoop. It looks delicious.”

—Gordon Gildersleeve, 2022

Longtime Lexington artist Gordon Gildersleeve died in the early morning hours of January 2, 2024.

His sculptures and functional art, described by critics as “wildly elegant” and “intricately designed and crafted” are exhibited nationally and installed publicly around the world. His sculptures, fountains, lighting, architectural and decorative elements are a mainstay in numerous private collections, including Churchill Downs. Locally, you may have seen his work as part of various exhibit installations on the Legacy Trail, at the old IBM campus, or on Southland Drive, to name a few. His booming baritone and gravelly chuckle were as intrinsic to the hallway noise of UK’s Reynolds Building in the 90s as the sound of the Pixies or the Pogues blasting from the speakers.

In 2020, his steel and copper sculpture, “Full Sail,” was installed in the median in front of the Oleika Temple in Southland Drive’s 18-month exhibit, Retrofitting the Retro, featuring eight artists and eleven sculptures.  LexArts teamed with the City of Lexington and the National Endowment for the Arts to create a contemporary sculpture show of local and regional artists to celebrate the revitalization of the corridor.

Ace Best of Lexington 2000

He had been working for the past several years on The Faces of Covidity series, and wrote about that series for Ace in 2021. The pieces were often composed of disparate elements ranging from cedar to recycled steel, bronze, found objects, torched enamel paint, gilding paste and acrylic.

In 1999 and 2000, Ace readers voted him the Best Lexington Artist in the Annual Ace Best of Lexington Readers’ Poll.

He was as well-known for his kind soul and generosity of spirit as he was for his nationally-known art. His home was a working studio where everyone was invited and visitors would likely be sent home with figs and purple basil, along with any art they’d purchased.

As he posted mid-pandemic, while hosting many open-air, open studio visits, “I have heard from so many great friends and good folks I will meet. Feels good to share and feel that I have moved somebody. Anybody. Even just a little… Be well. Stay well. Do good things. Be grateful, be kind, and be happy.”

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