Thursday, May 7, 2015

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: May 15, 1925 - Ralph Eugene Meatyard

From Smithsonian Magazine November 2011 -

Ralph Eugene Meatyard: The Man Behind the Masks

The "dedicated amateur" photographer had a strange way of getting his subjects to reveal themselves


Ralph Eugene Meatyard said that masks erased the differences between people. He photographed his family, shown here, in 1962. (The Estate of Ralph Eugene Meatyard courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco)

David Zax 

Smithsonian Magazine
November 2011 

One day in 1958 or ’59, Ralph Eugene Meatyard walked into a Woolworths store in Lexington, Kentucky. An optician by trade, Meatyard was also a photographer—a “dedicated amateur,” he called himself—and he kept an eye out for props. He might drop by an antiques store to buy eerie dolls or emerge from a hobby shop with a jar of snakes or mice cured in formalin. In Woolworths, he came upon a set of masks whose features suggested a marriage of Picasso and a jack-o’-lantern.

“He immediately liked their properties,” recalls his son Christopher, who was with him at the time. Meatyard père bought a few dozen. “They were latex and had a very unique odor,” says Christopher, now 56. “In the summer they could be hot and humid.”

Over the next 13 years, Meatyard persuaded a procession of family and friends to don one of the Woolworths masks and pose in front of his camera. The resulting photographs became the best known of the pictures he left behind when he died of cancer in 1972, at age 46. That work, says the photographer Emmet Gowin, who befriended Meatyard in the 1970s, is “unlike anyone else’s in this world.”

“He picked the environment first,” Christopher says of his father’s method. “Then he’d look at the particular light in that moment in that place, and start composing scenes using the camera.” With the shot composed, he would then populate it, telling his subjects where to place themselves, which way to face, whether to move or stand still.

For the 1962 portrait on the preceding page, Meatyard chose an abandoned minor-league ballpark and arranged his wife and their three children in the bleachers. (Christopher is at left; his brother, Michael, is in the middle; his sister, Melissa, at the bottom; and their mother, Madelyn, is seated top right.) The title he gave the image—Romance (N.) From Ambrose Bierce #3—provides only the broadest hint of what he was up to: In his Devil’s Dictionary, Bierce had defined “romance” as “fiction that owes no allegiance to the God of Things as they are.”

But still, why masks? Well, “the idea of a person, a photograph, say, of a young girl with a title ‘Rose Taylor’ or the title ‘Rose’ or no title at all becomes an entirely different thing,” Meatyard once said. “ ‘Rose Taylor’ is a specific person, whether you know her nor not. ‘Rose’ is more generalized and could be one of many Roses—many people. No title, it could be anybody.” And in the same way, a mask “serves as non-personalizing a person.”

And why would someone want to do that? In an essay on Meatyard’s work, the critic James Rhem quotes one of his sitters, Mary Browning Johnson: “He said he felt like everyone was connected, and when you use the mask, you take away the differences.”

Gowin, who posed for a Meatyard portrait, recalls thinking that wearing a mask would surely erase all sense of personhood. “But when I saw the pictures,” he says, “I realized that even though you have the mask, your body language completely gives you away. It’s as if you’re completely naked, completely revealed.”

Meatyard, whose surname is of English origin, was born in Normal, Illinois, in 1925. He served stateside in the Navy during World War II and briefly studied pre-dentistry before settling on a career as an optician. He plied that trade all his working life—9 to 5 on weekdays, 9 to noon on Saturdays—but photography became his ruling passion shortly after he purchased his first camera, in 1950, to photograph his newborn son, Michael. Four years later, Meatyard joined the Lexington Camera Club. Endlessly curious, he sought inspiration in philosophy, music and books—historical fiction, poetry, short stories and collections of Zen koans. Zen and jazz were enduring influences. “How many businessmen run Buddhist-style meditation groups over the lunch hour?” asks Gowin.

Despite his self-proclaimed status as an amateur, Meatyard soon became known in serious photography circles. In 1956, his work was exhibited beside that of Ansel Adams, Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan and Edward Weston. Five years later, Beaumont Newhall, then director of the George Eastman House, listed him in Art in America as one of the “new talents” in American photography. In the late 1960s, he collaborated with the writer Wendell Berry on The Unforeseen Wilderness, a book about Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. In 1973, the New York Times called him a “backwoods oracle.”

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Ralph Eugene Meatyard / edited with text by James Baker Hall ; reminiscence by Guy Davenport.
TR654 .M38 1974, Fine Arts Library - Closed Stacks

Ralph Eugene Meatyard : dolls and masks.
TR647 .M393 2011, Fine Arts Library

Ralph Eugene Meatyard : an American visionary / edited by Barbara Tannenbaum ; essays by Barbara Tannenbaum ... [et al.].
TR647 .M393 1991, Fine Arts Library - Oversize

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: May 15, 1911 - Mary Alice Hadley

image from

From the Kentucky Encyclopedia -   

Mary Alice (Hale) Hadley, potter, was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on May 15, 1911, to Frank R. and Hattie Alice Hale. She attended Indiana public schools and Indiana State University in Terre Haute, and graduated from Depauw College at Greencastle, Indiana, in 1933. At Depauw she met George Hadley, whom she married in 1930. In 1935, when the Hadleys were living in New York City, she took art classes at Columbia University. In 1939, after the Hadleys moved to Louisville, Mary Alice was given a boat, and unable to find dinnerware suitable for boating on the river, she decided to make her own. Friends in New York City and Chicago, impressed by Hadley's work, showed it to others, and orders began to arrive at her home for mugs, plates, and platters. The earthenware pieces were hand painted with cartoons of pigs, chickens, horses, farmers, or sheep, before being glazed, mostly in shades of blue and green. Hadley created a children's pottery series and also did custom designs.
Hadley's first commercial outlet was a gift shop, for which she filled special orders personally. In 1945 Hadley Pottery opened in an old factory on Story Avenue in Louisville. Mary Alice Hadley died on December 26, 1965, in Louisville and was cremated. George Hadley died on January 4, 1991. Hadley Pottery continues to operate.

Grady Clay, Jr., "Made in Louisville," and Marion Porter, "Charm from Clay," Louisville Courier-Journal Magazine, Oct. 8, 1950.
Source from UK Libraries:
Clear as mud : early 20th century Kentucky art pottery / Warren Payne, editor.
NK4025.K4 C54 2010, Fine Arts Library

Other Sources:

M.A. Hadley History

Hadley Pottery

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: April 26, 1785 - John James Audubon


Image from www.arthistoryimages. 
From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -

America's foremost naturalist and illustrator of birds, John James Audubon was born April 26, 1785, in St. Dominque (now Haiti) on Les Cayes, his father's plantation. His father, Jean Audubon, was a French naval officer, merchant, and slave trader who had served under General LaFayette in the American Revolutionary War. Audubon's natural mother is thought to have been Jeanne Rabbine, his father's mistress, who died shortly after his birth. Audubon grew up in France under the affectionate care of his father's wife, Anne Moynette Audubon. He preferred roaming the woods and sketching birds to academic studies.

In 1803 Audubon arrived in America to manage his father's farm in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He led an active social life, with enough time to study and draw the abundant birds of his new country. His outgoing nature and accomplishments as a musician and dancer attracted
Lucy Bakewell, daughter of a neighbor, who became his wife on April 5, 1808. 

Audubon and Ferdinand Rozier, his fellow-Frenchman and business partner, had left Pennsylvania in 1807 to become storekeepers in
Louisville. Both were aware of the frontier town's reputation as a gathering point for trappers and traders. The following year, Audubon brought his new bride to "temporary" quarters in Louisville's Indian Queen Hotel, which was to be their home for more than two years. In 1809 their first son, Victor Gifford, was born. As before, Audubon spent a great deal of his time in the woods, observing and drawing birds. 

By 1810 Audubon's collection of bird portraits had grown to more than two hundred drawings. At that time, noted Scottish ornithologist Alexander Wilson arrived in
Louisville to draw birds and to sell subscriptions to a published portfolio of his works. After seeing Wilson's drawings, Audubon confided that he, too, had been working for years in an effort to draw all the birds of America. Until that meeting, he had considered his efforts merely a personal pastime. However, he could see that his own drawings were superior to Wilson's. 

Later that year, believing more profits could be made where there was less competition, Rozier convinced Audubon to move their business 120 miles downriver to
Henderson, Kentucky. Along with Rozier, the Audubon family moved into a log cabin, setting up their store in the front room. By 1811 the ambitious Rozier suggested moving farther west, to the Mississippi River outpost of St. Genevieve, Missouri. After seeing St. Genevieve, Audubon decided that it lacked potential, and he and Rozier amicably agreed to end their partnership. 

The first years in
Henderson brought the Audubons relative prosperity and happiness. A second son, John Woodhouse, was born there on November 30, 1812. Audubon took advantage of frequent business trips to increase the number of drawings in his portfolio. Victor and John took an interest in their father's avocation, later becoming accomplished artists and playing roles in the successful completion and publication of Audubon's books on birds. 

By 1818 Audubon had fallen into serious debt. Embittered by his misfortunes and grieving at the death of his two-year-old daughter, Lucy, in 1817, Audubon sold the family's belongings and they returned to
Louisville, where he earned his living by painting portraits and giving art lessons. He was jailed briefly for his debts, and he filed for bankruptcy in the panic of 1819. The final sad note of his time in Kentucky came with the birth and death, in Louisville, of his daughter Rosa, who was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. Audubon and his family left Kentucky in 1819, moving first to Ohio, where he became a taxidermist for Daniel Drake 's new Western Museum in Cincinnati, and in 1820 to Louisiana. 

Audubon's four-volume Birds Of America was published in 1827-38, ensuring his place in history. His artistic renderings of America's birds and animals are unsurpassed in their accuracy and beauty. The work was followed by the five-volume The Viviparous Quadrupeds Of America (1842-45) and portfolios (1846-54). Audubon also wrote Ornithological Biography (1831-39), the text of the fifth volume of Birds Of America, and Synopsis Of Birds Of North America (1839), which cataloged the birds. 

Audubon spent several years of increasing senility. He died on January 27, 1851, at Minnie's Land, his home on the Hudson River (now Audubon Park in New York City), and he was buried there. 

Many of Audubon's engravings, paintings, personal artifacts, and one of the few remaining complete, four-volume sets of the double-elephant Birds Of America portfolios are on view at the John James Audubon Memorial Museum at Audubon State Park,
Henderson, Kentucky.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:
John James Audubon papers.
87M4, Special Collections Research Center - Manuscripts Collection

The original water-color paintings by John James Audubon for The birds of America : reproduced in color for the first time from the collection at the New York Historical Society / introd. By Marshall B. Davidson.
598.297 Au29or, Special Collections Research Center - Oversize Collection

Journal of John James Audubon made during his trip to New Orleans in 1820-1821, edited by Howard Corning, foreword by Ruthven Deane.
B Au29j 1929a, Special Collections Research Center - Biography Collection

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: April 26, 1897 - Philipine “Doc” Roberts

Image from
From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Philipine ("Fiddlin' Doc") Roberts, musician, son of William and Rosa Roberts, was born in Madison County, Kentucky , on April 26, 1897. Considered Kentucky's outstanding fiddler, he performed with various other Kentuckians, including Edgar Boaz, Ted Chestnut, Dick Parman, Marion Underwood, Green Bailey, and Welby Toomey. In 1927 he teamed up with Asa Martin, who played the guitar, saw, and jug. He appeared on Nashville's " Grand Ole Opry" and on several other radio stations, including WLAP Lexington. Martin and Roberts recorded more than two hundred sides, under a dozen stage names, on eleven labels. They made up the Doc Roberts Trio along with Doc's son James Roberts, who later married Irene Amburgey and formed with her the gospel duo James and Martha Carson. Roberts died on August 4, 1978, and was buried in the Richmond Cemetery.

CHARLES F. FABER, Entry Author
Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Old-time mountain blues [electronic resource] : traditional string bands with fiddle, banjo, guitar and more.

Old time tunes [sound recording]/ Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts.
LP7822, Fine Arts Media Center

The devil's box : masters of southern fiddling / Charles Wolfe ; foreword by Mark O'Connor.
ML3551.7.S68 W65 1997, Special Collections Research Center

Kentucky country : folk and country music of Kentucky / Charles K. Wolfe.
ML3551 .W64 1982, Fine Arts Library



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: April 22, 1787 or 1788 - Matthew Harris Jouett


Image from

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -

Matthew Harris Jouett, one of the most significant antebellum portraitists of the South, was born on April 22 in 1787 or 1788 near Harrodsburg in Mercer County, Kentucky. He was one of twelve children born to Capt. John and Sallie (Robards) Jouett. When Jouett was five, his family moved to Woodford County. He enrolled in Transylvania University in Lexington in 1804. After graduating with honors four years later, Jouett began to study law with Judge George M. Bibb of the Kentucky appellate court in Frankfort.

In 1812 Jouett enlisted in the 3d Mounted Regiment of the Kentucky Volunteers. He was appointed first lieutenant and paymaster of the 28th U.S. Infantry and on July 13, 1814, was promoted to a captain. He resigned his position on January 20, 1815. Jouett decided not to practice law but to follow his ambition to become a portrait painter and miniaturist, based in Lexington. After studying with Gilbert Stuart in Boston from July through October 1816, he was able to double his price for portraits.

Jouett was unable to make a living in Kentucky, however, and from 1817 until his death, he spent winters in New Orleans, Natchez, and other southern cities along the Mississippi River, painting portraits of notable citizens. The New Orleans directory of 1824 lists Jouett as a portrait painter with a studio at 49 Canal Street. From 1817 to 1825 Jouett's Lexington studio was in the Kentucky Hotel on Short Street. In June 1817 Jouett arranged an exhibition of his paintings and those of other artists for the benefit of the Fayette Hospital.

A total of 334 portraits and miniatures are attributed to Jouett between the years 1816 and his death. One of the most celebrated is that of General Lafayette. He painted several portraits of Henry Clay , one of which hangs in Ashland, the Clay estate. Other subjects included Gen. George Rogers Clark , Gov. Isaac Shelby (1792-96, 1812-16), Sen. Isham Talbot , Dr. W.C. Galt, Asa Blanchard , Robert Crittenden, and Dr. Horace Holley . In 1826 Jouett maintained a studio in Louisville as well as Lexington.

As popular as Jouett's portraits were in the South, he did not become known nationally until his paintings of Gen. Charles Scott and John Grimes were shown in the Chicago Exposition in 1893. Jouett's first one-man exhibition was a retrospective held at the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville between February 19 and March 4, 1928. Jouett's paintings are owned by the Filson Club, the Kentucky Historical Society, and the Speed Museum , as well as numerous private collectors.

Jouett married Margaret Henderson Allen of Fayette County on May 25, 1812; they had nine children. Jouett died at his home outside Lexington on August 10, 1827, and was buried in the family burial ground of his father-in- law, William Allen. Around the turn of the century, the bodies of Jouett and his wife were reburied in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:
Kentucky heyday, 1787-1827; the life and times of Kentucky's foremost portrait painter.
ND237.J8 S75, available, Fine Arts Library
Catalogue of all known paintings by Matthew Harris Jouett, by Mrs. William H. Martin.
759.1 Sp32, Special Collections Research Center
Matthew Harris Jouett, Kentucky portrait painter (1787-1827), by E. A. Jonas.
ND237.J8 J6, Fine Arts Library

Monday, March 30, 2015

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: March 30, 1917 - Clay Lancaster



Image from the Warwick Foundation
From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Clay Lancaster, architectural historian, a native of Lexington, Kentucky, was born on March 30, 1917, to Della (Pigg) and J.W. Lancaster, Jr. In 1936, he spent a half year at the Art Students' League of New York City. He then earned an A.B. (1938) and an M.A. (1939) from the University of Kentucky. In 1943 Lancaster returned to New York to become the Ware librarian of the Avery Library at Columbia University, where he studied Asian cultures. He taught at Columbia, Vassar College, New York City's Cooper Union, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New York University.

Lancaster received two Guggenheim Fellowships -- the first, in 1954-55, for research for the book The Japanese Influence in America (1963), and the second, in 1963-64, for research on Kentucky architecture, the basis of numerous publications. In 1971 Lancaster moved to Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he devoted himself exclusively to writing. Books of this period include The Architecture of Historic Nantucket (1972), The Far Out Island Railroad (1972), and Nantucket in the Nineteenth Century (1979). In 1978 Lancaster returned to Kentucky to live at Warwick, on the Kentucky River , in Mercer County. He soon completed Vestiges of the Venerable City (1978) and Eutaw -- The Builders and Architecture of an Ante-Bellum Southern Town (1979). He taught at Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky and was the Morgan professor at the University of Louisville in 1983.

Lancaster has written several children's books, including The Periwinkle Steamboat (1961), Michiko, or Mrs. Belmont's Brownstone on Brooklyn Heights (1965), The Flight of the Periwinkle (1987), The Toy Room (1988), and The Runaway Prince (1990). His scholarly publications include Architectural Follies in America (1960), Old Brooklyn Heights, New York's First Suburb (1961), Ante Bellum Houses of the Bluegrass (1961), Victorian Houses: A Treasury of Lesser Known Examples (1973), The American Bungalow, 1880-1930 (1985), and more than a hundred articles.
WILLIAM B. SCOTT, JR. , Entry Author

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:  
Clay Lancaster's Kentucky : architectural photographs of a preservation pioneer / James D. Birchfield ; foreword by Roger W. Moss.
TR659 .B56 2007, Design Library    
New York interiors at the turn of the century : in 131 photographs by Joseph Byron from the Byron Collection of the Museum of the City of New York / text by Clay Lancaster  
TR620 .B97 1976, Design Library    
Vestiges of the venerable city : a chronicle of Lexington, Kentucky, its architectural development and survey of its early streets and antiquities / by Clay Lancaster.
NA735.L55 L30, Design Library


Friday, March 27, 2015

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: March 27, 1868 - Patty Smith Hill

Image from

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -

Patty Smith Hill, educator, was born in Anchorage, Kentucky, on March 27, 1868, to William Wallace and Martha Jane (Smith) Hill. She lived at the Anchorage Female Seminary that her father ran until 1874, when the family moved to Fulton, Missouri. After her father's death in 1878, Hill moved to Louisville, where she attended first the public schools and then the Louisville Collegiate Institute in 1882. Exposure to new theories on the education of preprimary school children inspired her to become an educator. In 1887 she graduated from the first kindergarten training school in Louisville, which opened under Steve Holcombe in 1886. Hill experimented with the idea that children should be placed in settings that stimulated creative thought and openness, and she believed that programs should be adjusted to fit the child. She used music, poetry, stories, and plays to instruct children.

Though criticized, her ideas were of interest to educators all over the world, including John Dewey and G. Stanley Hall, who came to
Louisville to study preprimary education. She spoke before the Louisville Education Association in 1900 on " Education Through Play," and by 1900 nine Louisville public schools were offering kindergarten programs. In 1905 Hill left Louisville to study at Columbia University, where she worked at the Speyer School Experimental Playroom (later called the Horace Mann Kindergarten). In 1929 she received an honorary doctor of letters degree for her work as head of the Kindergarten Association. She may be best remembered for a song she wrote with her sister Mildred J. Hill in 1893, entitled " Good Morning To You," the melody of which was later used for the song " Happy Birthday."

Hill died in New York City on May 25, 1946, and was buried in Louisville's
Cave Hill Cemetery.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:
Song stories : for the kindergarten / music composed and arranged by Mildred J. Hill ; words written and adapted by Patty S. Hill ; illustrations by Margaret Byers ; with an introduction by Anna E. Bryan.
LB1177 .H55 1896, Special Collections Research Center
Nursery school and parent education in Soviet Russia, by Vera Fediaevsky ... in collaboration with Patty Smith Hill .... with over one hundred illustrations.
LB1140 .F4, Remote Storage
Experimental studies in kindergarten theory and practice, / edited by Patty Smith Hill.
LB1169 .H53, Remote Storage