Jeptha Barney Bright ’48

Jeptha Barney Bright '48

Jeptha Barnard Bright, Jr (July 8, 1927 – July 23, 1997), better known as Barney Bright, born in Shelby County, Kentucky and was a sculptor from Louisville, Kentucky is best known for his work on the Louisville Clock.

Bright was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky on July 8, 1927. He would excel in school projects growing up.

Barney Bright had his own sculpting business called the Bright Foundry in which other prominent sculptors Ed Hamilton who he worked with in 1973 thru 1978 and Raymond Graf was mentored by him. During the 1950s Bright would be commissioned to do several sculptures near fountains for various buildings. Several of these were made in bronze.

Barney Bright would begin construction on the well-known Louisville Clock in 1974, a year after the initial project was intended to be completed. The location was to be placed at the River City Mall (now known as Fourth Street Live!), but the developers easily became absent-minded about the original intentions until former Louisville mayor Wilson W. Wyatt mentioned it to local leaders in 1973. They then interviewed numerous artists to do the job and eventually selected Bright. After the original concept was scaled back considerably to conform to the budgeting, Bright would work on building the clock and have it dedicated in front of 3,000 people on December 3, 1976.

Other notable works accomplished by Bright were the River Horse Romano in front of the Mazzoli Federal Building’s entrance, and the Winged Man, Icarus. You can see his Floating Nudes in front of the Legal Arts Building in Louisville as well as sculptures in Cave Hill Cemetery. He was also commissioned by the City of Philadelphia to create the statue of basketball legend Julius Erving.

Prior to Bright’s death in 1997 he released a 36-page book titled Barney Bright: A Fifty Year Celebration.

After retirement, the Brights spent a portion of their year in Louisville and a portion in Europe.

Bright died at the age of 70 on July 23, 1997, from Lung cancer.