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Charley Kinney

Toller Hollow, Lewis County, Kentucky (1906-1991)

Before 1912, Kinney’s family moved less than a mile up the valley to where Charley spent the rest of his life. He showed artistic interest during his three or four years of schooling, preferring to draw rather than study. Charley was involved creatively throughout his life, playing fiddle, passing down (and embellishing) local lore, making baskets and clay sculpture. 

It was painting, taken up later in life, that gained him widest national recognition. Though he may have begun to paint as early as the 1950s, his work flourished from the late 1970s until his death in 1991. Kinney’s very personal style of painting is instantly recognizable. His subjects include haints, devils, strange phenomena, and scenes of yesteryear. Kinney’s work is part of many museum collections and has toured extensively. He has gained a much-deserved reputation as one of the most important American folk artists of the last half of the 20th Century.