By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - With all the excitement and national attention centered around the history of the Hatfield and McCoy family feud, one local artist’s works that birthed from this turbulent time in history are now proudly displayed on the wall of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce (TVCC) that is housed inside the beautiful, historical Coal House on Second Avenue in Williamson.
Vera Kay Hankins, a resident of South Williamson, Ky., has been painting and drawing since she was big enough to hold a pencil in her hand, and has been selling her works since she was in elementary school. Hankins will be the first to tell you that she was blessed with “God-given” talent and is self-taught, which is a statement that is often met with disbelief after the quality and detail of her works of art are viewed.
“I have never received any formal art training,” stated the artist. “Everything I know I was either born with or I taught myself through the years.
“I paint what my mind sees and what my heart feels.”
Hankins has spent the majority of her life in the Tug Valley area, minus the few years she resided in Danville, Ky., where her art is still on display at a local artisan center that features prints created by members of the “Gathering Artists” Association. Hankin’s works are also on display in both Midway and Berea, Ky., and has now made its debut across the river into West Virginia, being displayed along with other Hatfield and McCoy related feud items inside the Coal House.
Hankins has two sons, Nick and Jason, and said that it meant a lot to know they are proud of her artistic abilities and said they have always been her greatest fans.
She mentioned that one of her favorite pastimes is to go to the Southside Mall at Goody, Ky. where she sets up her easel and paints and draws, and has made many friends during these adventures.
“People enjoy watching me work, and I love to hear what they have to say about my paintings,” said Hankins. “I’ve been approached by numerous patrons at the mall who have commissioned me to do paintings of their family members.
“I love the time I spend at the mall, and I welcome anyone who’s up there while I’m painting to stop by and introduce yourself and take time to look at my art.”
Hankins stated that she began creating her “Hatfield and McCoy” line of art approximately seven years ago. The charcoal drawings and paintings feature the head of both feuding-clans, Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy, and the cabin that sits on the site of the “Hog Trial” that remains such a vital part of the feud history.
Replica prints of all the Hatfield and McCoy art created by Hankins are exclusively available through the TVCC at this time. They are ready for framing and would make a wonderful gift for anyone that appreciates the history and legends of the famous feud.
Hankins has also completed several works of art that are military based that celebrate the freedom we as American’s are fortunate to enjoy, along with others featuring numerous other subjects and scenery. Each and every painting commissioned by Hankins has a strong meaning behind them and an untold story just waiting to be heard.
Hankins also asked to extend an invitation for the public to make her acquaintance during the Hatfield and McCoy Festival that is scheduled to be held June 8 and 9 in Williamson and Matewan. The artist will have her display set up in close proximity to the Coal House and will have several prints of the feud related art for sale at that time, along with other types of creations.
“This feud is such an important part of our legacy,” said Hankins. “It’s the story that is specific to this region and is getting enormous attention with the mini-series and other shows that are focusing on it.
“I trust that my art will find its way into the homes of those who will be visiting our area for the festival. When they look at it hanging on their wall, I hope they always remember the true story of what those paintings really represent.”
If you would like to view the paintings of Hankins, you may visit her website at firstname.lastname@example.org., or stop by the Coal House to see her Hatfield and McCoy art currently on display.