KENTUCKY FOLK ARTISTS
at zim’s cafe

 
 

In the summer of 2018, Bluegrass restaurateur Ouita Michel — and lover of Kentucky folk art — sent Sara and Lee Busick of Midway on a mission: Curate a collection for her newest restaurant, Zim’s Cafe. Via phone, email and miles of roadways, the Busicks found beauty, innovation, whimsy and distinctive, delightful personalities in Southern, Western and Eastern Kentucky, and Lexington.

 

Featured Artists

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Lonnie and Twyla Money 

East Bernstadt, Ky.

Brought up on the Laurel/Jackson county line in hilly farm lands, Lonnie and Twyla Money are living close to where they grew up. Other than a ball-topped cane he made as a child for his grandfather, and other carvings created for his own amusement, Lonnie Money didn’t take carving seriously. Lonnie has “always thought of artists as someone else.”

In the early 1980s, Lonnie did a piece of work for the crafts marketing program at nearby Berea College and met art dealer Larry Hackley, who encouraged Lonnie to create his own pieces and his own designs. In the late 1980s, he began to devise his own patterns and his wife, Twyla, took over most of the painting. Today Lonnie and Twyla’s studio is a converted milking barn where they create striking and colorful carvings of the animals that farming life has made so familiar. 

Purchase Lonnie & Twyla’s work
Money’s Folk Art
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Ky.
Kentucky Artisan Center, Berea, Ky.
• Zim’s Café

 
 
 
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Artists A-Z


Minnie Adkins 

Isonville, Ky.

One of the best known folk artists in Kentucky, Minnie Adkins gained notoriety along with her late husband Garland Adkins, through their skilled creation of animal carvings. Born in 1934 in Isonville, Ky., Minnie spend years working in Ohio before returning to her homeplace, which she named Peaceful Valley in the 1980s.

As a child, Minnie was taught by her father to carve, but she only took up carving full time after returning to Kentucky. Minnie is known for her red foxes, bears, possums, tigers and roosters. Her figures are smoothly carved and painted and the animal faces are distinctive.

Minnie is well known as a generous supporter and mentor for the arts and artists of Eastern Kentucky. In 1998, a gallery in the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, Ky., was named after Minnie and Garland. Her works have been shown throughout the country and have been in numerous exhibitions.

Minnie was the 1992 recipient of the inaugural Jane Morton Norton Award given by the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College, for achievement in advancing the arts in Kentucky. She received the Award of Distinction from the Folk Art Society of America in 1993 and the Appalachian Treasure Award in 1994. In 1998, she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Morehead State University, and in January 1998, Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton presented Minnie with the Artist Award of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts.

Purchase Minnie’s work 
Minnie Adkins Day, Sandy Hook, Ky.
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Ky.
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, Ky.
Possum County Folk Art & Collectibles



Sharon Boggs

Isonville, Ky. 

Sharon grew up learning to do things that are now considered artwork. Various members of her family made quilts, knitted, crocheted, tatted, wove, made baskets, made chairs, etc. She was always interested in knowing how to do things. She is a photographer, potter, painter, sculptor, weaver, quilter, draws pictures and more. 

Purchase Sharon’s work 
Laurel Gorge Cultural Heritage Center, Sandy Hook, Ky.
Minnie Adkins Day, Sandy Hook, Ky.
Possum County Folk Art & Collectibles



Jo Ann Butts

Sandy Hook, Ky.

Jo Ann Butts was born in 1950 in an old log cabin where her father, grandfather and great-grandfather were born, on the Watson family farm in Eastern Kentucky. 

Growing up in a hard-scrabble family, Butts learned to make toys for herself and her siblings. She learned to use a pocket knife to make whistles, bow and arrows and a multitude of items.

“The hillsides were our playground and we swung on grapevines and slid down the steep hillsides into a pile of leaves at the bottom,” Butts said. “Growing up without much helped me to sharpen my skills and helped me to learn how to work with my hands and create something from nothing.”

Creating things runs in the family. After moving back to Kentucky from Ohio in 1999, it was her cousin, the famous folk artist Minnie Adkins, who encouraged Butts to begin working with wood. She started with a small sheep and branched out until she now creates a variety of animals that reflect having grown up on a large hillside farm. She paints her pigs, hedge hogs, sheep, skunks, fish, badgers, turtles and frogs with brightly colored paint. Her signature animal is the rooster. 

Butts has also painted numerous murals on barns in Elliott County where she lives. Her folk art paintings capture the animals and landscapes of her home. 

Purchase Jo Ann’s work 
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Ky.
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, Ky.
Minnie Adkins Day, Sandy Hook, Ky.
Possum County Folk Art & Collectibles



Brenda Hammons (1949-2005)

Isonville, Ky.

Although Brenda had a hard life, her art focused on warm and gentle scenes. Her paintings of farm life, complete with animals and people working together, are bright, well done and pleasantly nostalgic. 



Barb Keeton 

Martha, Ky.

Barb Keeton was born in Paintsville, Ky., in 1953. Barb paints using acrylics on paper. The subject matter of her work usually depicts daily life and Biblical references.



Tim Lewis 

Isonville, Ky. 

Tim Lewis was born in 1952. After six years in the military, Tim Lewis returned to his native Elliott County where he worked in coal, logging and heavy equipment. He began making walking sticks in 1988 and began carving stone a year later. Lewis has worked with many types of stone and coal. He often finds accessible material in the ditches along Eastern Kentucky highways. He has become one of America’s best-known folk stone carvers.

Lewis has had several public art commissions, including an outdoor exhibition of folk art at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. His work is included in many private and museum collections. Tim received the 2007 Artist Award by the Folk Art Society of America.

Purchase Tim’s work
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Ky.
Possum County Folk Art & Collectibles



Patsy Mosley 

Patsy Mosley is a fifth-generation basket weaver, specializing in native creek willow and honeysuckle baskets. She is among the last who practice a fading traditional mountain trade.

Purchase Patsy’s work
Red Bird Mission Crafts
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Ky.



Joe Offerman 

Owensboro, Ky. 

A self-taught wood carver, Joe Offerman took up his craft in 1985 after retiring as a speech and language pathologist. His Santa figures, “wood spirits,” holiday ornaments and shelf mice all show the dexterity and marks of the carving knife. His Knee Santas are made of cypress knees — wood right above the root — and the shelf mice have leather tails and horse hair whiskers.

Joe teaches wood carving in Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado and Florida to promote interest in his art form. He has received numerous commissions for wildlife carvings, his Santas and nativity scenes. His work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the American Museum of Folk Art in New York City, and the Owensboro Museum. His Santa figures were featured on HGTV in December 2002.

Purchase Joe’s work
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Ky.
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, Ky.



LaVon Van Williams 

Lexington, Ky. 

LaVon Van Williams was born in Florida in 1957 and grew up in Colorado. He played basketball at the University of Kentucky and was on the winning team that captured the national NCAA championship in 1978. After LaVon finished playing basketball, he settled in Lexington and has worked for many years as a teacher’s aide and youth basketball coach. He has worked in artist residency programs with the Kentucky Arts Council to teach about his art and African culture.

It was LaVon’s older brother, Dave, who taught him the basic principles of a traditional style of relief woodcarving that has its origins in coastal South Carolina’s African Gullah/Geechie culture. LaVon was immediately fascinated with carving and he went on to adopt this traditional relief style and make it his own. His art is also influenced by his father’s love of jazz and his mother’s colorful abstract quilts.

LaVon uses wood from a variety of sources, from old furniture, drawer fronts and demolished houses, to wide planks fresh from lumberyards. Using chisels and a mallet, LaVon produces two-sided wood relief sculptures that focus on the human figure. His subjects are portrayed by removing minimal wood and their proportions are abstract and seemingly larger than life. Yet his subjects are extremely recognizable and his use of vibrant color highlights their forms. More importantly, LaVon’s subjects are always engaged with each other, which brings both tension and grace to his portrayal of scenes and scenarios from African-American life.

Purchase LaVon’s work in Kentucky 
LaVon’s Urban Folk Art 
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Ky.
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, Ky.




Artists' information provided by Kentucky Folk Art Center and other sources