january 24, 2019

posted in: art, photography | 0

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.” ~ Jack Penn


Alice Allison Dunnigan


I made my way to Young Library on Tuesday and saw for the first time the beautiful sculpture of Alice Allison Dunnigan. Created by Amanda Matthews from here in Lexington, the statue was first displayed in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. before coming to UK. It will eventually land in Dunnigan’s hometown of Russellville, KY. In 1906, Dunnigan was born to a sharecropper in Logan County, Kentucky. There were few prospects for a woman of color in America during those times, but she managed to get herself an education, write columns in various area newspapers including Hopkinsville and Louisville, and she taught school. When that school closed, she headed to Washington, D.C. where she landed a job writing for the Associated Negro Press. One thing led to another until she became “the first African-American female correspondent for the White House and first African-American woman to be a member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries.” If you didn’t know who Alice Allison Dunnigan was before now, I hope you’ll take the time to read more about her here and here. And if you’re on UK’s campus anytime soon, by all means see her sculpture in W.T. Young Library’s lobby. The artist did a great job and Alice Allison Dunnigan is a star of American history. 

november 2, 2018

posted in: art, photography | 0

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” ~ Lucille Ball


monument 1


This beautiful sculpture graces an entrance of Northeastern State University in downtown Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Monument to Forgiveness was created by Dutch artist Frances H. Jansen “to honor Tahlequah as the End of the Trail of Tears. ‘To inspire, evoke and encourage in all humankind the spirit of reconciliation, transformation and unity through forgiveness.'” The world could use this spirit right now. 


monument 2

january 27, 2018

posted in: music, photography, radio | 0

“The time will never feel right. We will never feel ready and the conditions will never be perfect. Life is short. Take a chance. Even the smallest step in the direction of your dreams can help you come alive.” ~ TinyBuddha




Garry Bibb was my sculpture instructor in college. He was known as a tough and gruff kind of guy. He was also a brilliant artist. I didn’t find him gruff at all. I found him really helpful. He didn’t ask anything of us that he didn’t ask of himself. He has a lot of work around Lexington, but one of my favorites currently stands outside the Fine Arts building. It’s called “WRFL Radio: Thunder of Universal Sound.” WRFL is UK’s student radio station. A group of determined students were deep in WRFL fundraising when I joined a band called Radio Cafe in the summer of 1985. (That band went on to become Stealin Horses). One of my first gigs with Radio Cafe was a fundraiser for WRFL on the lawn beside the student center. By 1988, the station had gotten its license and hit the airwaves. The band had gotten a deal with Arista and released our first album. That album and WRFL will celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. It feels like yesterday. It was a great time for music in Lexington. We were not the only band to land a major label deal, and WRFL wasn’t the only station supporting us all. Rock station WKQQ, itself a national heavy-hitter at the time, was on board, too. The whole Lexington music scene was stuffed with talent, enthusiasm, and support. I guess that’s why I’ve been a little perplexed at the lack of mention this period gets in books on Kentucky music and musicians. Maybe we were just too cool. It was punk and pop after all (mostly punk). Whatever the case, it was a great time to be in the music scene in Lexington and I’m grateful to have been part of it.



august 4, 2017

posted in: photography | 5

“The politics of Jesus in 5 words: Love your neighbor as yourself.
In 3 words: Love your neighbor. In 1 word: Love.”
~ Nathan Hamm




One advantage to spending time at UK Chandler Hospital is the art. Last night, when mom was moved back to her room from Good Sam (where the surgery took place), I was walking from the parking garage when I noticed this sculpture for the first time. I hadn’t noticed it in the daytime, but with the street light against the sunset sky, it popped out like it was the only thing I could see. I didn’t notice who the artist was, and I didn’t read the entire quote inscribed on the base, but I loved the work. 


art in moonlight


Our Shero continues to do well, better than expected, in fact: no temp, clear lungs, great vitals, good color. She had a hard time with the anesthesia, as she typically does, but they finally got her settled by this evening. Reinette Jones came to see her this morning, and this evening she still remembered. Pretty impressive for somebody that’s been filleted like a fish. I’m feeling less nervous about her condition today. He medical team, lead by Dr. Swaghert, is just brilliant. Between him and Dr, Silby, I believe our Shero will be dancing a jig in no time. So very grateful.



may 5, 2017

posted in: art, photography | 0

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~ George Bernard Shaw


sad cat


As I mentioned earlier this week, I crossed paths with a few new murals. First, let’s look at this surprise art I found by Two Keys Tavern. I love to see folks sculpt their dead tree stumps instead of grinding them to nothing. They can be great art pieces, or at the very least wonderful conversation starters. Take this wildcat for example. I think the artist could have used a drink or four from Two Keys because the wildcat looks pretty depressed. Nobody likes a depressed wildcat, least of all depressed Wildcat fans that hang out at Two Keys. Maybe he was carved after this year’s NCAA loss, or the NBA Draft announcements by most of the team. They’ve both become yearly depression events. In any case, I think the sculpture is fun and I tip my hat to Two Keys for adding a little art to their backdoor entrance. 


Disney on steroids


Now, about those murals. This long piece (top) sits across from Lowell’s where I took the car for repairs. I really enjoy bright colors and abstract work, but this mural doesn’t really have either, and it’s a bit too Disney-esque for my taste. If it was near, say, a school or daycare I could see it as a good fit, but it faces a car repair shop and not much else. Maybe if I had kids I’d understand it, if in fact these characters are based on a Disney show like I suspect. The mural below faces the parking lot of Joe Bologna’s Italian Restaurant. While more aesthetically engaging, I admit to not understanding one bit of it either. It feels like a Ren-&-Stimpy-meets-Godzilla-on-the-basketball-court video game or something. It has great colors even if I don’t understand the imagery. All in all, I’ve concluded that just because you have a wall doesn’t mean you need to put a mural on it. Sometimes a plain wall just needs to stay plain. I may be showing my age with these critiques. Next thing you know I’ll be screaming at the kids to get off my lawn. Then, I’ll come into the house and laugh myself silly. Still, I whole-heartedly applaud these mural artists. These things aren’t easy to do, and I’m really pleased they get out there and get their feet wet. That’s how great art gets made. 


gamer’s paradise

december 20, 2016

posted in: art, photography | 0

“Health does not always come from medicine. Most of the time it comes from peace of mind, peace in the heart, peace of soul. It comes from laughter and love.” ~ Unknown


from the deck (snapseed)


I had never been inside Commonwealth Stadium before today. The Libraries held our annual holiday lunch at the Woodford Reserve Room at the stadium. Hands down it was the best location for our gathering, and you couldn’t beat the view. The room opens onto a spacious deck at about the fifty yard line. I imagine the games are wonderful to watch from here. Crystal, Podge (Jeff Rion), and I were all sorry we weren’t properly dressed to take a run down the field. It looks so inviting with no one on it. It also looked much smaller than it does on TV. The Dean’s remarks before lunch were also memorable. He very rightly pointed out that we are an inclusive institution of higher learning, and that Christmas is but one of many holidays celebrated during this time of year. Given the vitriol that has bubbled to the surface of our society around the recent election, I found his comments appropriate; reaffirming that we as librarians are stewards of democratic principles, and it is our duty to offer a safe place for our students and colleagues. He then pointed out the recent bronze sculpture of the four football players who integrated football at UK and in the SEC. It’s just outside the stadium beside the new practice facility. Naturally, Crystal and I walked back to work in that direction. It’s a really well done, moving piece of work. The perfect cap on a delicious lunch with some very, very special people. It was an excellent day.


stars (snapseed)

february 26, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“Let your hands be so busy catching blessings that you don’t have the capacity to hold on to grudges.”
~ Unknown


with these hands
with these hands


Just outside the smallest chapel of Central Christian church is a slender prayer garden where this hand carved marble replica of Thorvaldsen’s Jesus is displayed. After many years of standing unmolested, vandals chose to whack off his hands. Soon after, for obvious reasons, the church made the area inaccessible except during special occasions. I thought Gail’s sentiment about the disfigured statue rather eloquent. For her, the mutilated figure exemplifies the works of Christ doing good in the midst of bad; ministering to all even if un-whole, reminding us that we, too, must do what we can for the sick and downtrodden despite our own shortcomings. And that is how you make lemonade out of lemons.

august 18, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“I’m already setting a goal for myself in 2016….to be less of a worrier and more of a warrior.”
~ Brett Williams


We Will Hold
We Will Hold


So, I did this post once already, but my theme update went horribly wrong and ate the original post. Here I am, just before work, trying to recreate it. So, in short I said Morgan County has one Medal of Honor recipient, Col. William E. Barber. This year, on the Fourth of July, the town commemorated his heroism by erecting this Bronze Statue on the courthouse lawn.


gathering storm
gathering storm


My dad and Lynn Nickell worked their butts off to raise funds to build this memorial designed and forged by sculptor and former Marine Steve Tyrone. With the help of the VFW, DAV, Standefer Builders and host of others, they got it done. You can see it sits just down from the WWI Doughboy memorial that the same three men – Nickell, Terry & Tyrone – worked so hard to reconstructed after the 2012 tornado destroyed it. Now, the state highway department has a radical idea to add a turn lane and widen West Liberty’s Main Street. This in a town where they don’t really need two of the three red lights they have. Word has it that the Doughboy will have to be relocated. Perhaps Col. Barber, too. The project seems a waste of money, time, and effort. The Doughboy especially has become a symbol of the little town’s resilience. So, I find it disheartening that it can be so easily dismissed by those who really have no stake in the city’s recovery. Can’t do much about it, though. So, I’ll just continue to be grateful for dad, and Lynn, and everyone who works so hard to help our little town get back on its feet and be the sweet, charming home it once was.


still holding
still holding

february 27, 2014

posted in: photography | 0

May forgiveness be as simple as a ripple in a pond in your life,
and may it be as cleansing.” ~ Cam Richmond

shooting baskets
shooting baskets

This piece of unusual sculpture stands between the Fine Arts building and the President’s house. I leave it to you to decide whether or not it’s likable. Meanwhile, we enjoyed a beautiful blue sky.

august 21, 2013

posted in: photography | 0

“When you seek beauty in all people and all things,
you will not only find it, you will become it.” ~ Unknown

look east
look east

I was early to work and in desperate need of coffee. I took along my camera for the walk to Starbucks, outfitted with the long lens in case the drum line was in their morning practice. Apparently, I was too early even for them. Nevertheless, Bowman the wildcat was ever steady facing East. It was a spectacularly beautiful morning, drum line or no.

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