Bluegrass Art in Kentucky

Richard Matteson JR lives in Louisville, KY. He teaches guitar at a local music store. He began playing bluegrass in the early 1980s with banjoist Derrick Phillips. In 1997 he formed his band, the Bluegrass Messengers. Matteson has published ten books. His most recent book, Bluegrass Picker’s Tunebook, is currently available from Mel Bay Publications.

Aside from his playing and writing, Matteson has begun to promote bluegrass music via the visual arts. In 2006 he began a series of paintings based on traditional American songs. The lyrics of the song are engraved on the canvas in small print and the painting depicts the story of the song. He has painted such bluegrass tunes as: Bury Me Beneath the Willow, Careless Love, Darlin’ Cory, Banjo Pickin’ Girl, and Molly & Tenbrooks. Matteson has kindly shared these five images with us.

Careless Love

Banjo Pickin Girl

Darlin Cory

Molly & Tenbrooks

Bury Me Beneath the Willow

Matteson continues to paint other songs while also doing concerts performing the songs he’s already painted while displaying the accompanying artwork. The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum, in Renfro Valley, KY, recently acquired two of Matteson’s paintings for display.

Matteson performed at the museum, displaying all ten of his bluegrass series song paintings, last Satuday Oct. 18th. Director of the museum, Robert Lawson, found the paintings compelling enough that he plans to exhibit Molly and Tenbrooks in the Bill Monroe exhibit area, and is currently working on a new display for Lily May Ledford, which will feature the painting of her song, Banjo Pickin’ Girl.

The paintings may be viewed on Matteson’s new Bluegrass and Artwork Blog.