Jeff Chapman-Crane - Newly Discovered Appalachian Artist

Bill Andy Farley

Jeff Chapman-Crane is a native of Appalachian Tennessee. He began his
career as an artist in 1974, and moved to the eastern Kentucky coal fields in 1982.
Self-taught past high school, Chapman-Crane was fascinated by the rich tableaux of
life in central Appalachia and more so by the quality of light in the mountains.
Jeff has worked as an artist in residence in area community colleges, and
worked as a teacher trainer with the Collaborative for Elementary Learning. His
paintings have been exhibited in California, Washington, DC and throughout the sout~
and east coast. His illustrated children's book, Ragsale, took best of show at the New
England Book Fair in 1995, and won the Bernheim Arboretum Purchase Award in
Louisville, KY.
The introduction of Jeff Chapman-Crane's work to the national art scene was
through the untiring efforts of PaulYoung. Paul, a retired marketing executive, has
dedicated himself to bringing job opportunities to the people in the Kentucky
Appalachian area. In his travels through this rugged country he met Jeff through
mutual friends and after visiting his studio and seeing his paintings recognized that
they were done by someone of exceptional talent. His business savvy told him that
!3ff needed to be sponsored by a major gallery in a major city. This he accomplished
by seirching out a gallery in New York that shared his enthusiasm and would give Jeff
a chance. It has been a little over a year since his association with a New York gallery
and for the first time since he began his career Jeff has been able to support his family
purely by painting original art work rather than by teaching or performing artistic
residencies. His popularity has gained so rapidly throughout the country that a major
one-man show has been scheduled for him in the year 2000.
Commenting on his paintings, Jeff explains, "Light is the thread that runs
through my painting. Not just sunlight, but shadows and variations of light. The quality
of light and a real sense of it." The rich character of various faces also attracts his
attention. He looks for a universal quality in his subjects, people you could see
anywhere. In his own words, Jeff describes his goals and the things that center his art.
"I am an Appalachian artist. The work I do is rooted in the experience of being
Appalachian That experience, I believe, has been misunderstood by nearly everyone
outside the region and far too many within it. Certainly, it has been misrepresented by
the popular media. Characterizations like those found in Ma and Pa Kettle, the
Beverly Hillbillies, Snuffy Smith, Lil' Abner and Hee Haw form the predominant image
of life in Appalachia. Such a portrayal, at best, trivializes a rich, diverse, and valuable
indigenous culture. My art addresses this situation. By presenting a more genuine
portrayal of life in Appalachia, one that reflects my own experiences, I seek to inject the
truth into images that influence public perceptions. Mountain life is not a situation
comedy. It is a unique expression of the rich diversity found in human culture. This is
what my art is about; this is its content.

Jeff Chapman-Crane is represented by J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York City

Chapman1.jpg (13450 bytes)
Number 4, Back Street Gouache 1984 19 x 29

CHAPMAN2.JPG (12936 bytes)
Five-o'clock Shadows Gouache 1986 29 x 40

ŠThe Fine Arts Trader 2009