Minnie and Garland Adkins

Minnie Adkins born 1934 & Garland Adkins born 1928 (d. 1997)
Garland and Minnie Adkins are still considered to be among the better known folk artists of Kentucky. They have personally fostered the artistic careers of many of their neighbors, particularly through the annual picnic and folk art fest known as " A Day in the Country."

We first me them in 1989 and were among those with whom Minnie corresponded regularly through personal cards, phone calls, and invitations to the many exhibitions in which their work has been included. These exhibitions dotted the maps of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia among others outside our geographical region.

We visited at their home, known as Peacefull Valley, on numerous occasions. One visit was particularly memorable, it was spontaneous; we called from a diner in Morehead, Kentucky. Minnie was happy to see us, a gracious hostess, as always. She told us exciting news about her quilts and the ceramic plates she was working on. She expressed her disappointment because she did not have any work for sale.

girl with pigtails

Minnie instead found several pieces by Gerald "Creative" De Prie that she had "rolled up and stashed away" from a trade they had made years prior. She was delighted to sell the two drawings, early work which included a piece she said resembled me. It was a girl her hair in pigtails and bell bottom pants! Another "Creative" De Prie drawing depicted the retired Director of the Museum of Art, Huntington, West Virginia, Eason Eige and his miniature poodle leashed and wearing a hat. We were ecstatic to have been presented the opportunity to purchase this early and very original work. We asked her why she would part with these obviously important pieces. She would not elaborate more than he "was not a godly man."

Eason Eige

Before we left, Minnie realized there was a piece in the shop that she could sell us. She said, "I'll have to paint the rooster's comb and sign it." She asked Garland to "go get it!" Garland chuckled and said he had "burned it in the stove!" Minnie insisted, it was Spring and the stove had not been lighted. She retrieved it and finished the piece with paint and signature. It is an unusually shaped rooster, chunky and a bit awkward but loved for its uniquity.

Lunar Landing - Moon Kentucky
Moon Kentuckey

July 20th, the summer of 1994, marked the 25th anniversary of the historic lunar landing and man's first steps on the moon's surface. An event in Moon, Kentucky was scheduled to occur that day. A tractor and flat bed trailer would transport a chicken wire and aluminum foil "lunar lander" down winding roads to the small town of Moon. The town's Post Office, no longer operable, would be opened for the day. And, local artists would be there with their work for sale. The Lewis's were there including Tim, Jim, and Junior, and Leroy. We purchased a cane with foxes from Junior Lewis. We also commemorated our trip with the purchase and photograph of a Moon Pie, although it was never eaten. Getting into the spirit of the moment, we also sent some postcards with the commemorative post mark to friends and family throughout the country.

The primary purpose for our circuitous trip from Ohio, to Kentucky , next to Indianapolis, and back to Ohio all that same day related to a personal note Minnie had sent only days before. The "thank you" card was postmarked July 15th, 1994. It expressed "thanks" for our attendance at an opening of Minnie and Garland's work. Minnie wrote, "thanks for coming to Huntington (Art Museum, West Virginia) people show. We felt like you were there for us." She explained the "moon show" was scheduled for 12:30, July 20th. She then offered to fix us breakfast if we came early. She added "hope you can make it, I'll sell you the piece if you come."

Blue moon over Kentucky
minnie and garland
the Lewis's at Moon Ky. The "piece" was clearly one of a kind. A tribute to both the day's moon event and the concept of the infrequency related to blue moons. It includes the familiar carvings of Minnie and Garland holding a small plaque with lettering which reads "Blue Moon of KY" on one side in marker and "Shinning on you" on the other. A golden and a blue half moon shape encircles the two figures. We felt honored to have been offered this unique piece set in time. Our opportunity for visits to Peaceful Valley, and attendance to regional exhibitions has been curtailed over the years past. Our kinship and deep respect for Garland and Minnie has never waned.

Our collection also contains several other unique Minnie and Garland Adkins pieces from within their extensive body of work. We purchased the lanky Minnie Mouse holding the fox at the annual Sorghum Fest in 1994. We also purchased a black panther from Art Jones Gallery in 1988 signed (carved) G&M Adkins. It has an unusual angularly carved tail, so unique within the vernacular of the Adkin's work, it was photographed for publication.

We are particularly enamored with a very early undated, and extremely delicate flying squirrel by Minnie Adkins . It measures 22" from nose to tail and sits precariously on the rear two legs as if preparing to leap into the air. Although we have not had it dated, we say "early work" having seen some of Minnie's early work at a show titiled "In the Spirit" held at Sinclair Community College in Dayton Ohio. It is signed in scripted red marker on one foot "Minnie." Unlike more recent work that they purposely developed stylistically to resemble the one before and the one after, the more primitive carving and complexity of this subject matter resembles the early red fox, black bear, and a crow displayed in that show. We mentioned it to Minnie on one occasion, she was anxious to buy it back if it were ever for sale.

We were especially saddened when Garland died after a long illness in November, 1997. We attended the memorial service where it was apparent how great a loss his passing was. Not just to Isonville, the community in which he and Minnie lived, but to the artistic community whose lives they had together effected. Many of the artists whose work they fostered attended and acted as Garland's pall bearers. Of course, Minnie has since re-married and continues to exhibit, honoring both the carving tradition and Garland's legacy.