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Harlan Hubbard Exhibit

Harlan Hubbard exhibition
draws crowd in Covington, Ky.

Collector Bill Caddell speaks,
displays his Hubbard collection

By Don Ward
Editor

COVINGTON, Ky. – (March 2003) Fifteen years after Harlan Hubbard’s death, his legacy and popularity lives on for many fans of his art, writing and simple lifestyle.
The Bellevue, Ky., native and his wife, Anna, spent much of their lives living without electricity or running water in a self-built home hidden among the trees and brush of Payne Hollow in Trimble County, Ky. Hubbard’s books and art are still read and viewed by a large but perhaps narrow audience – many of whom once visited the couple in Payne Hollow or heard about them through those who did.

Bill Caddell

Bill Caddell

About 100 of Hubbards followers gathered Feb. 14 at the Baker-Hunt Foundation house in Covington, Ky., to mark the opening of a Harlan Hubbard Exhibition weekend at nearby Behringer-Crawford Museum to hear a presentation by Franklin, Ind., public librarian Bill Caddell. Caddell, who befriended the Hubbards in 1963 while a student at Hanover College, inherited the majority of Hubbard’s artwork upon his death from prostate cancer on Jan. 16, 1988, at age 88. Anna, a Cincinnati native, had died two years earlier, on May 4, 1986.
Upon his death, Harlan left a good sum of money to his wife’s niece and nephew, and his estate in Payne Hollow to his close friend and caretaker, Paul Hassfurder of Madison, Ind.
The soft-spoken Caddell brought with him about 40 Hubbard watercolors and woodcuts, which he displayed for public viewing and sale through Feb. 28 as part of the special exhibit. One of the watercolors was raffled at the end of the weekend festivities.
A heavy rain fell throughout the evening, and just about the time Caddell was preparing to begin his slide show presentation to the group, the power went out throughout the neighborhood.
Caddell resorted to reading his script by candlelight in the darkened room. He began by joking, “Harlan Hubbard would have a good laugh on us tonight.” Midway through his presentation, however, the power returned, and Caddell was able to show his slides, which showed examples of Hubbard’s artistic progression and the Trimble County home where he worked.
“Many people visited the Hubbards over the years. Harlan and Anna would always take them in, play music for them and Anna would prepare something to eat for them and present it beautifully,” Caddell said.
While a student at Hanover College, Flo Fowler Burdine received a grant to catalog more than 400 of Harlan’s paintings by taking slides of them as part of a class project. Meg Shaw at the University of Kentucky has continued the project and preserves her collection at the UK campus library. Burdine, meanwhile, now directs the Anna and Harlan Hubbard School of Living at the Franklin Community Public Library. Last year, she presented 100 programs on the Hubbards and took part in 12 art exhibitions.
Caddell brought only 80 of his 460 slides that show Harlan’s artwork that depicted the artist’s favorite subjects – the Ohio River, steamboats, trains and rural landscapes.
In all, Harlan produced more than 600 large oil paintings throughout his life, more than 170 woodcut prints and more than 2,000 watercolors, plus several thousand pencil sketches.
Harlan Hubbard disliked appearing in public or showing his work. He disdained even the thought of profiting from his artwork. Behringer-Crawford director Laurie Risch’s sister, Paula, however, was able to convince Harlan to organize an exhibit of his work at the museum. The Hubbards attended the opening and even spent the night in the very house in which Caddell’s presentation was given. Paula was one of only a few people who was able to convince Harlan to produce prints of a few pieces of his work.
Today, the Baker-Hunt house, located at 620 Greenup St., serves as an art teaching studio, religious and science education center. The foundation was established in 1922 and it is operated by a board of directors with a perpetual trust fund. In 2000, the foundation bought the Covington Art Club, the former home of Kate Scudder, thereby enlarging the grounds. Adult programs include classes in dancing, writing, painting, photography, pottery, quilting and stained glass, among others. Visit the nonprofit organization online at: www.bakerhunt.com.
Behringer-Crawford has a permanent display of about 20 of its 50 Hubbard pieces, including oils, watercolors and woodcuts. The museum is located at Devou Park, 1600 Montague, Covington, KY. Contact director Laura Risch at (606) 491-4033. Admission is $3 adults, $2 children and seniors. Visit Behringer-Crawford Museum online at: www.artcom.com/museums/nv/af/41012-00.htm.
A small display of about 16 Hubbard paintings also is available for viewing upon request at Hanover College’s J. Graham Brown Campus Center. The Hubbards were frequent visitors at Hanover College, where they were allowed to borrow books from the campus library. A “Friends of the Hubbards” group is still active there and headed by philosophy professor Robert Rosenthal. To contact him, call (812) 866-7216.

Hubbard collection

Bill Caddell's collection of
Harlan Hubbard watercolors
in Covington, Ky.

Harlan’s original manuscripts and letters are kept in an archive at the University of Louisville, along with some paintings. His three books, “Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society,” published in 1953; “Shantyboat: A River Way of Life,” published in 1974; and “Harlan Hubbard Journals, 1929-1944,” are still available for purchase through Caddell’s website, at your local bookstore or at the University Press of Kentucky (www.kentuckypress.com). Other notable books have been written about the Hubbards, including one by Henry County, Ky., writer Wendell Berry, Don Wallis, formerly of Madison, and Louisville-based writer Wade Hall. Mia Cunningham also recently published a book about her Anna Hubbard.Caddell’s website is available at: www.dcwi.com/~hubbard. The Franklin
Community Public Library website includes information about the Anna and Harlan Hubbard School of Living at: www.accs.net/fcpl.
Film crews from the Kentucky Educational Television station in Lexington, Ky., and WAVE 3 News also produced separate documentaries on the Hubbards. These films are available for purchase for $26.45 (KET) and $14 (WAVE) through Caddell’s website. KET’s “Kentucky Life” also produced a show on the Hubbards that can be purchased for $19.95.

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