A! Magazine for the Arts

The Journeyman's Song is an egg tempura painting by Jeff Chapman-Crane.

The Journeyman's Song is an egg tempura painting by Jeff Chapman-Crane.

Chapman-Crane's art is rooted in Appalachia

December 29, 2019

Jeff Chapman-Crane is the Spotlight Artist at The Arts Depot, Abingdon, Va., from Jan. 2 through Feb. 22. His exhibit is entitled“Life in Appalachia.” An opening reception is Jan. 4 from 2-4 p.m.

Chapman-Crane artwork has been a part in the past of the “From These Hills” exhibit at William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, Virginia. In 2019, he won theBest in Show Award Winner at the Virginia Highlands Festival Juried Fine Arts Show.These accolades are particularly appropriate for Chapman-Crane as his art is deeply rooted in Appalachia.

“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 by far too many within it. Certainly, it has been misrepresented by the popular media.

“Characterizations like those found in ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’ ‘Snuffy Smith,’ ‘Lil’ Abner’ and ‘Hee Haw’ form the predominant image of life in Appalachia. Such a portrayal is, at best, a trivialization of a rich, diverse and valuable indigenous culture. At worst it is demeaning, cruel and damaging.

“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 more truth into the images that influence public perceptions. Mountain life is not a situation comedy featuring lazy, dull-witted barbarians blundering through life in modern times, nor is it the quaint, romantic ideal of the more sentimental imagery. It is, however, a unique expression of the rich diversity found in human culture, and as such, it has much of value to offer. This is what my art is about; this is its content.

“My chosen form is realism, an approach that leads to greater clarity of statement. Such clarity is important to me; I want what I know, what I love and what I believe to be understood. I think it is also important to the people of Appalachia, because as a people we have not been understood; even the knowledge of ourselves and our own culture has diminished over time.

“Subsequently, the visibility I seek for my work is among my own people as well as the broader population. By producing art that portrays the people of Appalachia with dignity and their land with respect, I seek to contribute to a better understanding of life here and to help bring about positive change to the region,” he says in his artist’s statement.

He is from Kingsport, Tennessee, and began painting in 1974. He has illustrated a children’s book and a book of poetry. He is represented by the Phyllis J. Weston Art Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has had solo exhibits in Washington, D.C., Anaheim, California, Columbus, Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, and a variety of places in Kentucky. He has won a variety of awards, including best of show at the Carter Caves annual exhibit. “Ragsale,” the children’s book he illustrated, was chosen as one of the best illustrated children’s books by The Society of Illustrators.

To learn more about Chapman-Crane, visit www.jeffchapmancraneart.com.

To learn more about The Arts Depot, visit www.abingdonartsdepot.org.