Harlan Hubbard Exhibit
draws crowd in Covington, Ky.
Bill Caddell speaks,
displays his Hubbard collection
COVINGTON, Ky. (March 2003) Fifteen years
after Harlan Hubbards 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. Hubbards
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.
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 Hubbards 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 wifes 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 Hubbards artistic progression and the Trimble County home where
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
While a student at Hanover College, Flo Fowler Burdine received a grant
to catalog more than 400 of Harlans 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 Harlans artwork
that depicted the artists 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 Rischs 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
Caddells 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
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 Colleges 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.
Caddell's collection of
Harlan Hubbard watercolors
in Covington, Ky.
Harlans 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 Caddells 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.Caddells website
is available at: www.dcwi.com/~hubbard.
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 Caddells website. KETs Kentucky Life
also produced a show on the Hubbards that can be purchased for $19.95.
Back to March 2003 Articles.