Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
"Creatures & Characters: Works by Kentucky Woodcarvers" - New Exhibition at Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

Press Release Date:  Saturday, May 31, 2008  
Contact Information:  Gwen Heffner
Information Specialist, Curator
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Phone: 859/ 985-5448
Fax: 859/ 985-5449

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea’s newest exhibition, Creatures & Characters: Works by Kentucky Woodcarvers, will be on display from June 7 – September 21, 2008. This exhibit showcases the many styles and techniques of Kentucky’s woodcarvers as they depict real or imagined ‘creatures’ and ‘characters.’

Featured in this exhibit is the work of 37 Kentucky woodcarvers from all across the state – from Pineville to Paducah – to Louisville to Ashland. There are in-the-round free standing sculptures – wall mounted works with relief carving – walking sticks and canes that utilize the natural form of trees and roots – whittled and ingenious folk art carvings – and carvings with stylized features and realism.

To showcase Kentucky’s woodcarving talent, the exhibit title – Creatures & Characters – challenged Kentucky woodcarvers to bring forth works that depict real or fantasy creatures and animals, as well as a wide range of real or imagined characters. There are wonderful carved wooden creatures including horses and fish, animal canes, lizards and birds, dogs, hogs and snakes. Carved characters include figures from historical, cultural, biblical and imaginary subject matter.

Through all time, wood has been linked to man’s domestic and creative realms and a tree offers material for use from its trunk, branches, and roots, which can be cut, shaped, bent and carved to fulfill man’s every need. Carving styles that appear in this exhibit include whittling, line carving, pierced carving, in-the-round carving (sculpture), and low relief carving using such woods as basswood, padauk, catalpa, walnut, maple, poplar, mahogany, butternut, spruce, pine, and a variety of saplings and tree limbs and roots.

Special techniques are often used to align legs and appendages with the grain of the wood, which can require the joining of several pieces of wood together to complete one section. Special woodcarving tools are also utilized such as carving knives, gouges, dremmel tools and sometimes dental drills to achieve fine features and details. Woodburning is sometimes utilized for creating details as well.

The finishing of the carvings in this exhibit is unique to each individual carver. Some carvers will let the natural wood grain remain as the finished surface, while others prefer to paint the wood to enhance the figures and animal forms with realistically detailed surfaces. Both acrylic and oil paints are used as well as finish coats of sealer.

Realistic woodcarving in this exhibit can best be seen in the carvings of animals. Tim Hall has carved a delicate bird form with detailed feathers in his “Cardinal,” while Gerald Cooper has created three detailed miniature carousel horses and a lion. Janet Bailey Burch has allowed the natural wood pattern and color to remain in her layered and carved padauk works that become three dimensional action horses, and well-known author Loyal Jones, offers three carvings that show that his attention to detail is a factor in his carving as well as his writing.

Caricature carving appears in the work by John Hendrickson who has carved a stylized “Hobo” and a classic rotund “Santa” as well as in the work by Steve Brown who has created a humorous “Biker Couple.” Wizards appear in the cottonwood bark carvings of David Buzzard, and Keith Martin Howard has relief carved a large wall mounted “Winking Troll.”

Folk carving is well represented with animals by Minnie Adkins, walking sticks and canes by Johnny Eldridge, Leonard Dishman, Tim Lewis, and Larry McKee, and sculptural works such as Edd Lambdin’s “Monkey with Snake” and a simple poplar “”Woman” by Leroy Lewis. LaVon Williams has created a large wall relief carving of “Billie” Holiday and a free standing sculpture of “Fancy Ray Ray McCoy.” Some of the largest and most colorful work is by Lonnie and Twyla Money who have created a colorful 5 foot tall “Bird Tree” as well as an “Elvis Impersonator,” and by the nationally known carver Donnie Tolson who has created a colorful and detailed version of “Uncle Sam.”

Kentucky woodcarvers featured in this exhibit include: John Adams, Berea; Minnie Adkins, Isonville; Jim Alexander, Rogers; Steve Brown, Madisonville; Janet Burch, Crestwood; David Buzzard, Lexington; Gerald Cooper, Berea; Leonard Dishman, Monticello; Ray Durham, Lexington; Johnny Eldridge, Isonville; Calvin Grant, Lexington; Tim Hall, Ravenna’ Alan Hedgespeth, Henderson; John Hendrickson, Pineville; Keith Martin Howard, Hebron; Jerry Jenkins, Cynthiana; Loyal Jones, Berea; Ethan Kilgore, Berea; Edd Lambdin, Frakes; Leroy Lewis, Isonville; Tim Lewis, Isonville; Dick Mathy, Lexington; Larry McKee, Burnside; Lonnie & Twyla Money, East Bernstadt; Joe & Mary Offerman, Owensboro; Earnest Patton, Campton; Guy Purcell, Ashland; Doug & Mary Ridley, Paduch; Debbie Ross, Lexington; Charles Sabo, Louisville; Larry Smith, Richmond; Oris Stanton, Somerset; Donnie Tolson, Campton; LaVon Williams, Lexington.

“Creatures & Characters: Works by Kentucky Woodcarvers,” will be on display June 7 – September 21, 2008, at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. An opening reception for the artists and public will be on Saturday, June 14, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm with exhibiting artists discussing their work at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 975 Walnut Meadow Road, just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café from 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from over 100 counties from all across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the Center’s web site at  

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Commerce Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


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