Sunday, June 28, 2009

Artist's Studio: Richard Jolley

Richard Jolley's Studio, 2009 by Richard McCabe

In June of 2004, the Ogden Museum hosted its first nationally travelling exhibition, Richard Jolley: Sculptor of Glass. Co-curated by the Ogden's Director, J. Richard Gruber, working with Stephen Wicks, of the Knoxville Museum of Art, the exhibition debuted at the Knoxville Museum of Art before beginning a national tour. The travelling exhibition featured works by the artist from 1984 through 2002, and was accompanied by a catalogue featuring a comprehensive essay by Dr. Gruber. In its Ogden incarnation, Dr. Gruber and the artist incorporated works made after 2002, showing his response to the exhibition.

Jolley at the Kiln, 2009 by Richard McCabe

In June of 2009, the Ogden's Richard McCabe and Bradley Sumrall were treated to a tour of the West Knoxville studio that Jolley has worked in since 1975, catching a glimpse of the new direction this ever-changing artist is taking his work. Set off the highway in a thicket of woods, the studio was filled with activity.

Hand-built Holding Furnaces, 2009 by Richard McCabe

"What I am trying to do is achieve a humanistic art."

Studio Assistant James Breed, 2009 by Richard McCabe

The new forms in Jolley's work are still heavily inspired by classical human forms. One sees a direct relation to his series Busts (1990-1994), Torsos (1994-1996) and Totems (1996-2001), yet the forms are fresh, minimalist, and both contemporary and deeply connected to his Pop Art roots.

Kenneth Gonzales, James Breed and Raul Garcia, 2009 by Richard McCabe

"Jolley views himself as an artist who works in glass, not as a 'glass artist.' For him, the distinction is a critical one," Dr. Gruber wrote in 2002. In 2009, we see that Jolley still holds that belief, and continues to push the boundaries of his medium.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009



On Thursday, June 18, the Ogden's Bradley Sumrall and Richard McCabe visited Yee-Haw Industries in Knoxville, Tennessee. Started in 1996 in a Corbin, Kentucky barn by partners Julie Belcher and Kevin Bradley, Yee-Haw is an industrial letterpress and design company now located in a turn-of-the-century Gay Street building in downtown Knoxville. The over-stuffed studio is covered floor to ceiling with examples of their posters, prints, and broadsheets, filled with cards, t-shirts, and some of the funkiest collectibles to be found.

Yee Window and Haw Window, 2009 by Richard McCabe.
The letterpress barn in Corbin was started by Julie and Kevin with antique printing equipment saved from a rusty future, and used to create folk art woodblock prints of country music icons like Hank Williams (last seen alive feet from their current location) and Loretta Lynn, handmade posters of Southern subculture heroes like Cas Walker and Colonel Harlan Sanders. The work turned heads, and before long, the press was commissioned to create album art and promotional posters for contemporary artists including Steve Earle, Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams and Southern Culture on the Skids.

Yee-Haw Interior, 2009 by Richard McCabe
All Yee-Haw prints are hand-set with original or vintage hand-carved wood blocks and type. Some of the earliest letter blocks date from the early eighteenth century. One vintage cabinet in the studio contains the history of Southern pro-wrestling in printer's photo plates. Drying racks are filled with inked paper at various stages of each color's eight-hour drying schedule. This is a real press in high production, full of activity and creativity.

Kevin Bradley in Studio, 2009 by Richard McCabe

Principal Julie Belcher, hailing from Morgantown, West Virginia, is the force behind building the brand. First introduced to the art world when her high school sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts to fund a trip to New York City, Julie went on to serve as art director and designer for Whittle Communications, Seventeen and Blue Note Records. Principal Kevin Bradley studied painting and graphic design before developing the unique Yee-Haw style. Julie lectures at institutions both academic and commercial. Kevin carves most of the original artwork produced by Yee-Haw.

Intern Christian Cox, 2009 by Richard McCabe
Recent Yee-Haw collaborators include Mississippi artist Sean Star Wars, Brooklyn's Cannonball Press, and Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art where they designed and produced a unique line of Dada merchandise for their 2006 Dada exhibition. Yee-Haw was recently commissioned by Jim Flora Art to produce limited edition prints from Flora's original blocks. Flora was an acclaimed and prolific illustrator and designer, best known for his album covers of the 40s and 50s. Of working with this material, Kevin Bradley says, " For us, it's like playing golf with Tiger Woods."
Printing Blocks, 2009 by Richard McCabe
For more on Yee-Haw, visit .

Monday, June 15, 2009

Photographs @ Watercolor

South Miami Beach, 1982-1985. Photograph by Gay Block.

On Friday, June 19, the Ogden Museum @ Watercolor will open Picturing the South: People, Land, Architecture, Cities. Composed from the Ogden's photography collection, this exhibition includes photographs from 1934 to the present. A wide range of processes and styles attempt to represent the South's people and places, from the shrub brushed beaches of northwestern Florida to the dusty fields of the Mississippi Delta, from the color of South Miami's Jewish community to the texture of New Orlean's Vieux Carre at Carnival.

The Ogden's chief preparator, Richard McCabe and I are installing the exhibition in Watercolor before delivering the works of Mississippi artist, William Dunlap, to Banner Elk, North Carolina. After that we are on to the studio of Knoxville's Richard Jolley. Hopefully, along the way we'll record some truly Southern images and experiences to share here at Verso. Below is a view from the Watercolor Inn this afternoon.

Photograph by Bradley Sumrall, 2009.