John W. Haywood
“Haywood’s strong brushwork and frugal choice of elements in the painting’s composition show the idea that childhood is more than a carefree commercial for lemonade.” Benita Heath, Lexington Herald Leader.
Born in a holler in Eastern Kentucky, John Wezley Haywood saw life differently than children who grew up in more economically developed areas. He lived in a small community called Risner that was named for his Mother’s family. During this time both Haywood and his community were being changed by outside influences which came into the area by means of mass communication and corporate development. Many of the traditions that had been handed down in the Eastern Kentucky region were forgotten. Today, from his home in Knott County, he paints the real Kentucky. His artwork wallows in the stereotypes and pays tribute to lifestyles that make Kentucky and Appalachia one of the most unique and celebrated places in the entire world. The paintings tell stories of hell raising hillbillies, hardened mine workers, mountain musicians, and more.
His work can currently be found at the Appalachian Artisan Center, the Mary Stewart Craft Shop, both located in Hindman, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, and the Kentucky Artisan Center of Berea, as well as his studio in Knott County. Established galleries such as the Cinderblock and Swanson Reed Contemporary in Louisville, Kentucky have carried his artwork. In June 2006 he received a professional development grant from the Kentucky Arts Council for a solo exhibition in Ashland, Kentucky. In 2007 he received a Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council and Lincoln Bicentennial Commission for his painting of Abraham Lincoln. In 2009 his artwork and banjo playing was documented by the late Mike Seeger for a yet to be released Southern Banjo documentary. He is also a juried member of the Kentucky Arts Council’s Visual Art at the Market program. Haywood can also be found participating in various arts and music festivals across the region.
His work has been collected by a variety of folks in an out of state. Environmental biologists, college professors, famous banjo players, disc jockeys, and tattoo artists are all proud owners of Haywood’s paintings. As the list grows so does the demand for his artwork. “I think that with the way things are today, people are looking for work that will connect them to something or someplace. As our culture becomes more and more homogenized, we are loosing many of the characteristics that make us unique,” he says.
Haywood currently resides at the head of Little Doubles Creek near Hindman, Kentucky with his wife, Kelli Brooke Haywood, and his daughters Deladis Rose and Ivy Pearl Haywood. He is also an award winning old time banjo player currently playing with Rich and the Po'Folk, and the Travelin' Snakes. He also performs solo.