Denzil Goodpaster


was the best-known carver and painter of canes in Kentucky in the late twentieth century. As a farmer, he learned how to work with metal and wood, and how to fixthings. Over the years he crafted various items from wood, some functional, others decorative. Around 1970, when he retired, he noticed canes made by other men atthe Morgan County Sorghum Festival in West Liberty, Kentucky. Boasting that he could make better sticks, he soon began to produce them in a distinct, colorful style.His work became easily identifiable, and was later copied by other regional canemakers. His brightly painted, humorous sticks featured female figures, snakes,alligators, and other animals. His human figures—which included cheerleaders, bathing beauties, nudes, and portraits of Dolly Parton—all had the same face. He alsocarved small sculptures of animals, and made flexible, articulated alligators, with wooden sections held together using leather.Goodpaster’s work exerted an important influence on American folk canes, as the risqué subject matter he frequently portrayed as well as the flamboyant colors heused established a standard for stickmaking that other regional artists continue to aspire to today.
See also
Canes; Sculpture, Folk
Meyer, George H.
American Folk Art Canes.
Bloomfield Hills, Minn., 1992.Milwaukee Museum of Art.
Common Ground, Uncommon Vision.
Milwaukee, Wisc., 1993