Charley Kinney (1906-1991) - Outsider Art/Folk Art
“Outsider” artist Charley Kinney lived his entire life on his family’s land in northeast Kentucky (near Vanceburg, KY), in a one hundred and fifty year old log cabin. His artwork reflects his deep connection with the culture of rural Appalachia; for Kinney, his art and his life were completely entangled. A subsistence farmer who lived entirely off of the land until his death in 1991, Kinney’s art demonstrates his kinship with the land and its wild creatures, both real and imagined. Supernatural beasts known as “haints” (folkloric personifications of evil) populate his starkly rendered drawings, sometimes accompanied by phonetically spelled words and stories of local legend. For many years, Kinney made small clay animals in his home oven and sold his paintings for no more than $1, occasionally making puppets from wood and cardboard to entertain his brother, Noah.
However, by 1970 Charley’s work was gaining popularity. His clarity of vision and extraordinary imagination fed his raw talent; Kinney called drawing “as easy as falling off a log.” His works are now a permanent part of the Kentucky Folk Art Center, the Huntington Museum of Art in West Virginia, the Owensboro Museum of Art in Owensboro, KY, and the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama. Kinney’s art has also been exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art and Morehead State University.