Morgantown has a vibrant arts community including an active arts guild, actors, theatre and more.
Doyle Lee is constantly reading books on new techniques, new materials to work with or studying other artist work and styles.
“I am 73 years old, and I am just like a kid when it comes to learning about art,” Lee said.
Lee started drawing with pencil and paper when he was 3 years old. He said he remembers it because he drew some chickens and dogs on the back of an envelope belonging his dad. When his dad asked why he did that it hurt his feelings, but “I have been at it ever since,” Lee said.
When he was about 14 or 15 he saw a picture of Abraham Lincoln in a newspaper with a question “Can you draw?” The picture had to be enlarged to five inches tall, so Lee drew it and sent it in. A week or two later representatives from the Art Institute paid him a visit. Lee said he has really appreciated what he learned during those two years of correspondence.
Beginning in 1975 he took four semesters in the use of acrylics through a Western Kentucky University art class presented at the Butler County Public Library.
He credits Christine Coleman in providing a lot of encouragement by giving him challenging work that was always a little out of his normal field.
“That is what led me into sculpting,” Lee explained.
Christine had seen his wood carvings and wanted him to do a bust of her husband, Denzil. Lee informed her that something that big would probably present problems with cracking. He decided to take a course in sculpture at WKU in order to meet the request. Two years later after four semesters in sculpture, Lee presented Coleman the bust. Lee said Christine also got him started in pen and ink by wanting a drawing of her home in that medium.
His most rewarding experience in art has been in painting baptisteries in local churches such as Sandy Creek and New Liberty Baptist churches.
Animals are his favorite subject regardless of the medium whether painting, wood carving, pen and ink drawing or sculpting. He tells a story about how he got into sculpting the likenesses of animals. During sculpting classes the instructor had the class do a statue of a nude female although he said the model always had on a bikini. When he brought it home his mother and sisters threw a little fit of anger for what he was doing. He asked the instructor if he could switch to animals to maintain peace at home. Lee said he is so glad he did because since that time he has loved creating sculptures of animals including lots of dogs and even a horse’s head.
In doing animals his favorite medium has become the colored pencil work, which is clear sealed afterward for longevity. He likes it because he can come into the house, sit down and work for 10 or 15 minutes and get up and leave it with no mess to clean up and no mixing paints or having to wait for the work to dry.
This multi-talented artist who enjoys several mediums is ready for a new challenge, the art of capturing likenesses of the songbirds, possibly in watercolor. He said he has always admired the works of Audubon.
Lee sells prints of some of his work. He does portraits and, did I mention, also sings and plays piano.
By: Roger Grady Givens
Joyce Porter Hammers
Joyce was born in 1931 in the Eden community of Butler County, the daughter of Mable Johnson and Clark Thomas Porter. Clark Porter was one of the last in the county to practice the almost forgotten art of blacksmithing. Joyce has lived in the Eden community for most of her life. She was married to the late Floyd Hammers, also an artist, whose works currently adorn the walls of Smith Funeral Home’s lobby.
Joyce Porter Hammers, is one of Butler County’s multi-talented artists, lends her talents to the enrichment of life for those she comes in contact with and to the community in general.
Joyce’s first attempt in the field of visual art came in 1972, at home the night after her first art class. Joyce thought she would try a portrait and was up until 3 a.m. working on it. She says from that moment on she was “hooked.” The medium Hammers chose for her work was pastels, and she has primarily worked in that medium throughout her career.
Hammers has also successful as a performing artist with a total of nine monologues to her credit. Her most successful monologue was one she developed of Susanna Wesley, the wife of John Wesley, a pioneer evangelist in the Methodist Church. She has performed this work at several churches throughout Kentucky and surrounding states.
Hammers is retired now and says she spends time pulling out old works and enjoying looking at them and the memories they bring.
By: Roger Grady Givens
Stahl was born in San Antonio, Texas on April 8, 1952 to Charles and Toni Stahl. Charles was an airline pilot for TWA Airlines, and after moving his family around a lot the Charles Stahl retired and moved to Butler County to one of his parents’ farms in the Sugar Grove area. Andy grew up on this family farm and today still owns and operates it in the Little Muddy community.
While still in high school Andy was playing in a local Bowling Green rock band, Experience Explosion. In competitions around the area and state the band earned the honor of representing the state of Kentucky in the National Battle of the Bands contest in Atlantic City, NJ. During Stahl’s college years, and after, he played bass guitar in popular bands around Bowling Green such as, Lonely Souls Delegation and The Ken Smith Band.
In addition to his musical appearances Stahl was also working at least part time in the visual arts, creating original paintings and having prints made for sale. His favorite and most popular was titled Broadway the Clown, a depiction of his friend Nick Wilkins, owner of Ballon-a-Gram in Bowling Green.
Stahl’s visual arts career came to a disappointing end one snowy, winter night in 1985 when someone broke into his home, stole his original works and several other valuable objects. He has not seriously produced any visual art works since then.
Andy’s first acting experience came as a result of an audition requirement for a drama class, resulting in his getting the role in a WKU play. Horse Cave Theater was starting that year and it’s manager, Warren Hammack saw Andy in his premier performance and ask him to apprentice at Horse Cave theater during summer breaks, which he did for three years.
Stahl contracted with agents in Nashville and Atlanta and his first break in the movie business came with a role in the movie The River shot in East TN.
Stahl has lent his talent to the Kentucky Blues Society as host for their cable educational series spotlighting Kentucky blues artists. Stahl has returned to writing, playing bass guitar, and painting more after many years of focusing on his acting career. Stahl is also a songwriter. Several cuts have resulted from co-writing with Jimmy Tittle, Johnny Cash’s son-in-law. They have had one fairly popular hit in France but, none in the U. S. He also has several screen plays finished or in progress.
Andy Stahl did the majority of this work living on his farm in Sugar Grove, Butler County.
By: Roger Grady Givens