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The Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships 1981-1990:
About Our Artistsby Laurie Mackey
Two prominent Lawrence artists, Stanley J. Herd and Thomas B. Allen, have generously donated artwork to the Kansas State Fiddling & Picking Championships.
Stan Herd has made his living as an artist in the soil of Kansas. Born in the western Kansas town of Protection, he knew at an early age that he would pursue art as a career. “I was the artist in the family...in fact, in the town,” he said. When he was in first grade, he won an art contest sponsored by the Hutchinson News. The prize was a dollar, and the newspaper printed his artwork. With that encouragement, he was on his way.
Stan's early career included the painting of historical murals. He got his start in Dodge City and western Kansas, and he has created murals in several Kansas museums, including the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka.
He is probably most famous now for his field work which he has been doing for about ten years. He considers these 'earth works" a way to integrate his agricultural past with his artistry. Lawrence residents may be most familiar with his “Sunflower Still Life” near Eudora. His second field image was of American humorist and recreational musician Will Rogers.
Stan has always been drawn to music--thus his natural attraction to the Kansas State Fiddling & Picking Championships. His uncle, Bob Wimmer, played fiddle at barn dances. Stan was too little to remember those dances, but Bob, also of Protection, still has his fiddle.
One of Stan's recent projects also involved music. He created a thity-acre field work piece of the “double wedding band” quilt pattern, which was used in singer Michael Martin Murphy's music video “A Long Line of Love.”
Tom Allen, our cover Artist, was living on eastern Long Island, NY, before he came in 1982 to the University of Kansas as a Hallmark Visiting Professor. After a year, he decided to make Lawrence his home and has since become Hallmark Professor of Illustration at KU. His work includes illustrations for Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, Life, Sesame Street, major record covers and children's books.
Tom's art drew him into the world of music. In 1959 Esquire hired him to do a series of paintings for a piece called “Country Music Goes to Town.” For that magazine series, he painted the Osborne Brothers; the Stanley Brothers; a rural country scene; a New York City park “where every picker and grinner gathered on Sundays.” and finally Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. When Earl saw the painting of him and Lester, he wanted it. So Tom gave Earl the painting, and Earl gave Tom a banjo. Earl later used Tom's painting on a record cover, and Tom illustrated Earl's subsequent record covers.
Tom slowly learned to play banjo. From 1969-1972, he played in a square dance band called the Putnam String County Band. The band also played benefits for anti-war political candidates and environmental causes and was joined by the likes of Pete Seeger and Don McLean. As part of the crew on the maiden voyage of the "Clearwater," Pete Seeger's sloop, Tom drew a series of sketches which became the illustrations for a book called Songs and Sketches of the First Clearwater Crew (foreward written by Don McLean). The first crew sailed the "Clearwater," a replica of an 1860 boat, down the Hudson River, bringing to light environmental concerns along the river and stopping to give concerts to raise funds to pay for building and operating the boat. In Lawrence, Tom's banjo-playing has been confined mostly to appearances with Mike Allen on the "Flint Hills Special" radio program.
Official KSF&PC t-shirts with Tom's and Stan's illustrations are for sale, as are posters of Tom's twin fiddlers.
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