John Karl "Jack" Kershaw (Tennessee, 1913-2010) oil on canvas painting, surrealist scene depicting a young girl running amidst the columns of a Southern mansion in ruins, beneath a canopy of Spanish moss covered trees. Signed lower right "Kershaw". 34" H x 27 1/4" W. Unframed. Provenance: Estate of Jack Kershaw. Biography: Jack Kershaw studied art at Vanderbilt University and in the 1920s became associated with a group of intellectuals who called themselves The Fugitive Poets. In the 1930s, he worked as Federal director of the Tennessee Art Project (a job in which he worked as one of famed sculptor William EdmondsonÕs supervisors). He also served as an art consultant for The Kenyon Review and for Nashville Mayor Ben West, and was a member of the first Tennessee Arts Commission. His work prior to 1950 consisted mostly of portraits (both paintings and sculptures), and paintings of landscapes and interiors. In 1953, as Chairman of the Nashville Committee for the Coordination of the Arts, Kershaw was instrumental in developing the lower level of the Nashville Parthenon for use as a permanent art gallery. Around this time he and his wife, the former Mary Noel, decided to attend law school; he was admitted to the bar in the 1960s. However, he continued to paint, sculpt and draw, becoming more interested in abstract works.For much of his career, Kershaw kept records of what he made and who bought it; purchasers of his art from 1938-1980 included recording artists Dinah Shore, and Grace Creswell, Penn Warren, Tupper Saussy, The City of Nashville, and Prince Alexander of Hohenzollern (who commissioned a portrait). Kershaw exhibited at the Holbrook Museum (University of Georgia at Athens, with Phillip Perkins); University of Connecticut (one man exhibition); the University of Kentucky; Yale University; University of Tennessee (one man exhibition); Peabody College; the University of Chicago; Carlton College in Minnesota; Bridgewater College in Virginia; The Centennial Club of Nashville; the Ray Jordon Gallery; Cohen Memorial and Art Investments Gallery in Nashville; and Avanti Gallery and Caravan House in New York City among others. Kershaw designed the 1951 Christmas Card for WSM-Radio, painted murals for the Veterans Club of Nashville in 1953, and in 1974 published ChristÕs Mass, a series of religious themed drawings and verses. His later paintings took an increasingly surreal tone and focused heavily on historical elements; the little girl in this painting appeared in a series of paintings mourning the loss of the Old South. The Civil War provided frequent subject material, most notably the 25-foot title sculpture for the privately owned Nathan Bedford Forrest Memorial Park in Nashville. Kershaw was also a political figure. He was one of the attorneys representing James Earl Ray, who confessed to killing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but then recanted and spend the rest of his life trying unsuccessfully to obtain a jury trial. Kershaw also co-founded the League of the South. Condition: Canvas is in a fragile state. Overall grime with some rubbling to edges.
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