Capturing the Beauty of Kentucky: Gary Akers Artwork at the Library

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.

Borders BlueBorders Blue
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
1998 Watercolor
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:


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.

Top 3 Can’t Miss Stops in Elvis’s Memphis

A short seven hour drive from Boone County will get you to a jewel of the South – Memphis Tennessee. Toasted as the home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, Memphis hosts one of Fodor’s Travel’s 10 best zoos; two of U.S.A. Today’s Best Iconic American Attractions; The Indie Memphis Film Festival; and the Memphis in May International Festival which includes Beale Street Music Festival, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and the AutoZone Sunset Symphony. But beyond all of that -It’s where Elvis called home.  So, to help you plan a visit and to honor The King’s Birthday here are the top 3 can’t miss stops in Elvis’s Memphis.

  1. Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum –  At the Fedex Forum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies, the Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum is an exploration of the birth of both Rock and Soul firmly rooted Memphis. The collection began as touring exhibit from the National Museum of American History and is the first time the Smithsonian has worked in conjunction with another museum. It explores the history and evolution of American Music from Beale Street Blues to the groundbreaking records recorded at SUN Studio, STAX Recording and HI Records. The Museum is open daily from 10 am -7 pm, admission is $12 per adult, $9 for children and there are many organizations they offer discounts to, for more details visit their website.
  2. Sun Studios –  The legendary Sun Studios on Union Avenue, is known as the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison all recorded their first records at Sun Studios, and current artists like U2, Chris Isaacs and John  Mellencamp have recorded there since its reopening in 1987. The tour takes about an hour and a half and includes a photo op with the microphone Elvis used to make his first recordings.  Sun Studios is open from 10 am- 6 pm everyday with tours starting on the half-hour (adults $12/ kids free) and be sure to try the shakes at the cafe.
  3. Graceland Mansion and Museum –  Elvis’s 13 acre estate is the most-visited private homes in America, a museum and Elvis’s burial site. The mansion tour walks you through it’s late 1960’s-early 1970’s interiors – including the “Jungle Room” personally decorated by Elvis in 1974 and features an indoor waterfall. The “trophy building” or wing that was added in in the mid-sixties houses displays of memorabilia, Elvis’s gold records, his grammys, several of his most iconic performance costumes, his film scripts and Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding apparel. At the end of the mansion tour you can pay your respects to the King himself at his grave in the Meditation garden, where he his buried beside his parents. There are also additional museums and exhibits that are part of the property including a collection of Elvis’s cars and private planes; the Graceland archives; Elvis’s Tupelo- an exhibit about the Mississippi town Elvis was born in; and Elvis’s Hawaii: Concerts, Movies and More!  There are several packages that include different parts what Graceland has to offer based how much time you have and details can be found at Graceland.

Want to learn about Elvis Presley and his life? Listen to his music or watch one of his movies? Check something out from our collection of Elvis items.


Katie Widener, a Burlington native, attended U of L and UK before becoming a Reference Librarian at Boone County Public Library in 2011.