Oral History Interview with Larry Hackley Part II

Kentucky Historical Society


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0:09 - Explains art in his studio

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Keywords: African art; Berea (KY); Carl McKenzie; Charlie Kenny; Donny Tolson; Earnest Patton; Ed Lampden; Harry Jennings; Henry York; Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft; Lonnie Money; Louis Lamb; Minnie Adkins; Minnie Black; pocketknife carving; Red River Gorge; Twila Money; walking sticks; whittle; Willie Massey; woodcarvers; woodcarving


WILLIHNGANZ: Okay, what else?

HACKLEY: Well, huh I don’t know, we can . . .

WILLIHNGANZ: Tell me about this piece here.

HACKLEY: Oh, okay. That’s . . . by Donny Tolson, the son of Edgar Tolson, the famous woodcarver from Campton, and . . . it’s a fairly recent piece by Donny. It’s . . . Abraham . . . about the sacrifice Isaac . . . with the ram, with his horns co . . . caught in the bushes and . . . the . . . dove and the snake.

WILLIHNGANZ: It’s quite a piece.

HACKLEY: Yeah, it’s really great, isn’t it? [Clears throat].

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay. How about these?

HACKLEY: These are . . . walking sticks by several Kentucky . . . carvers. I—we did a . . . the f . . . actually the first state survey on walking sticks back in, I think it was ’88, at the . . . what’s now the Museum of Arts and Craft in Louisville, and . . . I ran around, ran all over the state looking for people who were making walking sticks, and we . . . put together and, historical as well as contemporary sticks, but we found, I think there were . . . fifty or more cane makers altogether from that group that we put together.

WILLIHNGANZ: Tell me about the one you’re use right now?

HACKLEY: Oh this is by an old fellow . . . Henry York . . . one of the people—actually one of the people we discovered doing that show. I had a, we had a li . . . we put out a press release around the state to all the small newspapers ask…telling we were doing the show, and we had a social worker who sent us a letter and say, ‘You got to meet this guy, he’s got …he makes walking sticks, and he lives in an old-folks complex in Albany. And, he works out of the back of his station wagon, because they wouldn’t let him work in the, in the . . . apartment he lived in. And . . . he had all his tools and things in the back of the station wagon, and all the pieces of cedar, and he had a, a . . . set of, a carving of a set of yoke of oxen with figures on the backs, and they were all bungee corded to the top of his station wagon . And, he would drive around Albany with these, these figures on the back of his sta . . . on the top of his station wagon …quite a local character .

WILLIHNGANZ: At this point I have to change the tapes.

HACKLEY: Okay. Charley Kinney…he was one of the people that I worked with for many, many years. Also . . . who with his brother . . . above made the art up in . . . outside Vanceburg in . . . Lewis County and they lived up a ho . . . real remote hollow and . . . they, I’m first met them when they were . . . first came up [unintelligible] making music, they were all time musicians and . . . they—Charley was a fiddler and his brother played, Noah played . . . guitar, and . . . and then Noah carved and Charley painted, and they became very famous actually, there . . . over the years. Charley is [audio sound cut] twenty-four American museums, which is more than a good many [unintelligible].

WILLIHNGANZ: [unintelligible]

HACKLEY: So, yeah.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay. Those figures there?



HACKLEY: Yeah. Those are by Carl McKenzie, another artist that I work with. He’s . . . passed away now but . . . he wa . . . he lived out in . . . near the Red River Gorge, at Nada, and . . . he was one of those traditional whittlers he, he would just pick up a piece of wood of any kind and turn it into something and . . . [Clears throat] he just constant . . . was constantly carving since the time he, he retired in ’69 . . . he whittled every day and . . . made just thousands and thousands of pieces over the years . . . traditional, traditional pocket knife carving, bright colors that kind of thing. This is a Duddle Family, the the wife and husband and children and their pet snake . The kids have matches and kindling to keep the fire going [Clears throat]. Yeah, he was also a musician. He would play . . . saw and he ma . . . he, he played what he called his tinging bow, just a, a . . . bow that he made with a piece of . . . guitar string and a piece of wood, and he would plunk it, put it off, a, against his teeth and plunk it with his thumb, and, and, and make, and make music with it. It was a lot of fun.

WILLIHNGANZ: Whoa! What about those figures up on the top up there?

HACKLEY: Those were also Carl’s . . . again there is a Statue of Liberty and then a nurse and some birds, and a, a big rabbit in the center. The carving on the r . . . on the left hand side on the far end of the . . . shelf is . . . General Schwarzkopf by one of the Webb’s from Tennessee, Tennessee carver.


HACKLEY: Yeah. That was made right after the . . . first Iraq War.



WILLIHNGANZ: Okay, down here a little.

HACKLEY: Do you want to go down there? Oh, well, it’s a, it’s a it’s a hodge-podge of stuff from different artists. The bird on the bottom shelf and this alligator kind of . . . creature here is by Ed Lamdin from . . . east Kentucky. He almost always made things out of . . . just sections of trees and twigs for legs and . . . and that kind of thing. He also made a lot of monkeys and, and . . . things out of . . . burls and, and . . . most of those things are animals for the most part. The Noah’s Ark in this . . . next shelf up is by Harry Jennings, another east Kentucky carver and . . . he . . . a very . . . busy guy, very simple . . . sweet pieces as well, and this . . . piece of the possum is by Minnie, Minnie Black, M . . .—I’m sorry Minnie Adkins . . . one of the better known Kentucky carvers.

WILLIHNGANZ: Which one is the possum?

HACKLEY: The possum is this gray, gray thing here.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, I want to make sure I got the right man.

HACKLEY: Okay. And . . . yeah, she, she and her husband, Garland, started out carving in . . . the early eighties. Actually she had carved as, since . . . like she was a child, actually, but . . . they became well known in the mid ‘80s and on, and . . . they made large versions of that and foxes and bears, and all kinds of animals for the most part. And . . . the turtle there is also by Ed Lambdin, in front, yeah. And the pieces on the top shelf are . . . the cat is by Noah Kinney . . . Charley’s brother and . . . the . . . farmer and his wife are by . . . Calvin Cooper . . . from out near Morehead, in east Kentucky and . . . the Santa Claus is by Lonnie and Twyla Money, from . . . east Kentucky as well.

WILLIHNGANZ: Why is that holding a . . . duck in his hand?

HACKLEY: that’s a good question .

WILLIHNGANZ: That’s funny, how about the bird here?

HACKLEY: Oh that’s, that’s another . . . Harry Jennings piece.



WILLIHNGANZ: Good God, another tied down, tighten up. Hold on a second; let me turn this on focus to you again.

HACKLEY: You know that dragon, you got it?



WILLIHNGANZ: The dragon, yes.

HACKLEY: Oh! The dragon is ag . . . by Minnie Black. She was a wonderful . . . old woman from down at East Bernstadt, Kentucky, and she made things out of gourds. And that’s all, everything there, except for the eyes maybe, are gourds that she cut up and reassembled and, even the wings are Loofa gourd and . . . she had a g . . . a museum, her gourd museum that she—it was an old grocery store they’d had, and she filled it up with . . . dozens, and dozens, and dozens and critters and people—figures of peoples out of gourds and that kind of thing. She was . . . the queen of the Gourd Festival in Ohio every year. She . . . she would go up and they’d have a parade and she would ride in the, ride in the parade.

WILLIHNGANZ: How amazing. What about this stuff?

HACKLEY: Well, again it’s a number of artists. The angels by Harry Jennings, the . . . the Incredible Hulk, the green guy, is by Earnest Patton, and . . . there is a piece of African art off to the left of that, and . . . the two figures in the back on the left . . . a man and woman chopping wood are also Earnest Patton, and . . . the f . . . the family in front . . . I forgot the name of the guy who did that, it’s a piece from West Virginia, who was actually a neighbor of a very famous . . . carver by the name Dazel Jones and . . . The bird houses are by Willie Massey from out in western Kentucky . . . and, let’s see, the turkey is Lewis Lamb from outside Berea . . . that . . . the next couple of things are anonymous, I don’t know who made them, one of my flea market finds .


HACKLEY: Yeah, I’m sorry things aren’t displayed better.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, that’s all right.

HACKLEY: But . . . anyway, there’s still—let’s see you’re, yeah you’re headed in the still there is also by . . . Carl McKenzie the fig . . . the fellow who did all the figures in the other table. He remembered actually s . . . seeing those stills in the woods like that…


HACKLEY: . . . when he was a kid.

WILLIHNGANZ: And you have some figures over in the corner there.

HACKLEY: Huh . . . yeah those are . . . again Harry Jennings and . . . there is a smoke stand that . . . came from a company in Louisville, actually.


HACKLEY: I forget the name of the place but it was made downtown Louisville. It has a stamp on it.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay. Well, I guess that . . .

HACKLEY: Hum? Enough?

WILLIHNGANZ: . . . covered enough. Thank you very much . . .


WILLIHNGANZ: . . . for your time.


WILLIHNGANZ: I appreciate it.

HACKLEY: Yeah. I’m glad we hooked up, finally.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah. Even though it’s not . . . not as organized as you would like it, it’s an impressive collection. Thank you so much.

HACKLEY: Well, I’m sorry it’s a mess, we’ll . . .


HACKLEY: . . . it will be in an exhibit you can see sometime, see it . . .

WILLIHNGANZ: That will be great.

HACKLEY: . . . see it set up right.

[End of Interview Part II]