Showcasing the Arts



2018-19 Governor's Awards in the Arts:
Folk Heritage Award



Calloway County



George Beard George Beard

Born in western Kentucky, George Beard was, in his childhood, inspired by the willow furniture he saw in the wagons of traveling Roma who visited his community during the Great Depression. Years later in 1960, a week after being discharged from military service, he was reacquainted with willow furniture. While picking fruit as a migrant laborer in Arkansas, he saw one of his friends making a willow chair. Beard took one lesson from the man and, after one chair, improved the design. He completed his first chair in 1965.

He continued making and selling willow chairs and his work rose to the attention of the Smithsonian Institution, which in the 1970s sent curators to Beard’s western Kentucky shop. They returned to Washington, D.C., with one of Beard’s chairs. Beard has passed on his knowledge to Justin Roberts, who nominated Beard for a Governor’s Award. Beard and Roberts enjoyed a prolific master-apprentice relationship thanks to a Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council.






Page last updated: June 27, 2019
Report a broken link.