Boone County Public Library is home to some great artwork including some prints at the Scheben Branch in Union which were presented to the Library by well-known local artist, Gary Akers. Akers is a Boone County resident with a love for Kentucky that pours out in his work. The inspiration for Gary’s artwork can be found throughout Kentucky in coal fields, covered bridges, and general stores, as well as landmarks such as Churchill Downs. Gary captures the beauty in our state that makes us proud to be Kentuckians and the Library is pleased to be able to display his work.
Gary is a contemporary realist, painting in watercolor, dry brush and egg tempera. Because egg tempera is a difficult medium to master, his level of detail is all the more impressive. Early on, Gary received a Greenshields Foundation grant secured by his painting “Barns” (print on display at Scheben) that allowed him to further his egg tempera work. He has been featured on Kentucky Life, a weekly KET television series, and had an image appear on 60 Minutes. His paintings have been accepted by some of the most highly acclaimed art shows in the country and he has won the Kentucky Watercolor Society’s top award.
Born in Pikeville, Kentucky, Gary knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist. He graduated from Betsy Layne High School and went on to study art at Morehead State University. He married his high school sweetheart, Lynn Rita Keathley, after receiving his Masters degree in art in 1974, and together they moved to Boone County. Gary’s studio is a restored 19th Century log cabin in Union, Kentucky that sits among the trees on his property.
Gary and Lynn also spend time in Maine enjoying their ocean-front summer home, another inspiration for Gary’s artwork. They purchased the Georges River Road School, also known as the Green Schoolhouse, which they restored to its original 1926 state to serve as Gary’s gallery and studio while in Maine.
Listed below are a few of the Gary Akers prints on display at the Scheben Branch, 8899 US 42 in Union:
1974 Tempera on Panel
Barns secured Gary an international grant allowing him to further egg tempera work and studies for one year.
Winter’s Grays1976 Watercolor
The farm can be found in Independence. Gary was inspired every time he drove past the property and decided after a big snow that it was time to paint it.
Rabbit Hash General Store
1983 Drybrush watercolor
The general store can be found in Rabbit Hash along the banks of the Ohio River.
Cellar House Apples
1988 Drybrush watercolor
Cellar House Apples was painted in the cellar of the Borders brothers’ farm located in Burlington where three bachelor brothers lived and farmed.
1999 Tempera on panel
Borders Blue was the living room door inside the Borders farmhouse that took on a new color brought out by the red apples and the sun pouring in.
Reflection in Time
1998 Daybrush watercolor
The Oldtown Bridge can be found over the Little Sandy River south of Greenup.
Red Buds in the Mountains
The red buds can be found in Prestonburg near the cliffs in eastern Kentucky.
In addition to Gary’s artwork, Dancing Iris, created by Ashley Akers, the daughter of Gary and Lynn, is also on display at the Scheben Branch..
Stop by the Local History section of the Main Library, 1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington, and take a look at Kentucky: Land of Beauty, a coffee table book that compiles Gary’s paintings of Kentucky. For more information about Gary Akers, visit his website: www.garyakers.com.
Jennifer Cheek has worked for Boone County Public Library for four years, currently in Public Relations. A graduate from the College of Mount St. Joseph focusing on English and Communications, she previously worked in Advertising/Media Buying and still continues as a freelancer.