Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: January 4, 1900 - Harlan Hubbard

Image from

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Harlan Hubbard, writer and painter, son of Frank Gilbert and Rose Ann (Swingle) Hubbard, was born in Bellevue, Kentucky, on January 4, 1900. His father died in 1907, and in 1915 Harlan and his mother moved to New York City to join his two older brothers, who were working there. Harlan attended Childs High School in the Bronx and later the National Academy of Design in New York and the Cincinnati Art Academy. In 1919 he and his mother returned to Kentucky and settled in Fort Thomas.

Hubbard regarded industrial development as a danger to the earth, and he rejected the consumer culture. By 1929, when he began keeping a journal, his differences with society's dominant assumptions were well established, as were his interests in painting, writing, music, and the landscapes of northern Kentucky and the Ohio River . He married Anna Eikenhout in 1943. The next year, at Brent, Kentucky, upriver from Cincinnati, they built a shanty boat on which they traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and through the Louisiana bayous, ending the voyage in 1951. From 1952 until their deaths, they lived in a house they built far from the road on the shore of the Ohio River in Trimble County, Kentucky. On the shanty boat and in the house at Payne Hollow, they lived a life that was frugal and abundant, solitary and hospitable, fundamental and elegant. It was a life of homemaking and handmaking. Together, they kept house, gardened, read aloud, made music, welcomed guests. Harlan cut firewood, tended a herd of goats, fished, wrote, and painted.

Shantyboat (1953) is the story of the Hubbards' voyage from Brent to New Orleans, Shantyboat in the Bayous (1990) completes the story of their voyage, and Payne Hollow (1973) is an account of their life at Payne Hollow. Journals, 1929-1944 was published in 1987. Together, these books are a detailed account of two landmark lives at odds with our time. Hubbard's first love was painting, but he is better known as a writer. He had few contacts with other artists, and he exhibited his work little and only locally. Nevertheless, he produced hundreds of paintings, watercolors, prints, and drawings, mostly of the landscapes in which he spent his life.

Anna Hubbard died on May 3, 1986. At Harlan Hubbard's death on January 16, 1988, a memorial service was held on the Hanover College campus in Indiana. His body was cremated.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Harlan Hubbard Archive
This page, by Meg Shaw, contains images of Harlan Hubbard's paintings in private collections. They were exhibited as "Harlan Hubbard: a life in the landscape", at the Hopewell Museum, in Paris, KY, in 2008. URL is

Hubbard, Harlan. Payne Hollow : Life on the Fringe of Society. New Ed. / with Afterword by Don Wallis.. ed. Frankfort, Ky.: Gnomon, 1997. Print.
F457.T65 H84 1974, Special Collections Research Center, and
F457.T65 H84 1997, Fine Arts Library

Hubbard, Harlan., Don Wallis, and University Press of Kentucky. Shantyboat Journal. Lexington, KY: U of Kentucky, 1994. Print.
F354 .H73 1994, Fine Arts Library, and
F354 .H73 1994, Special Collections Research Center


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