Trees: A Conversation – Paintings by Hagan and Joe McGee is an extraordinary exhibition showcasing the paintings by the late James Hagan McGee and his son, Joe McGee, hosted from July 27 to August 31, 2023. It’s a heartwarming journey that intertwines generations, passion, memory, and the universal theme of trees.

Hagan’s posthumous contribution, represented by a selection by his son Joe from his father’s prolific body of work, is presented for the first time since his passing in 2017.

Alongside this, his son Joe presents an array of his own contemporary pieces from the recent Tree Series, marking an intergenerational dialogue of creativity and nature. The tree – an omnipresent motif in Hagan’s work – weaves this diverse collection together into a cohesive narrative.

Previously exhibited together at the KY Folk Art Museum in 2003 and at Spalding University in 2011, the father and son pair have a strong history of shared artistry. Despite Hagan’s humble beginnings and late blooming career as an artist, his work was frequently exhibited and highly collected. His pieces serve as a window into his cherished memories growing up in Manton, KY, with the charm and authenticity of these recollections being a key characteristic of his art.

This exhibition is not only a celebration of Hagan’s and Joe‘s shared artistic vision but also a glimpse into their family life, steeped in creativity and shared exploration. Hagan, a humble and charming individual who built a house for his family in the Prestonia Section of Louisville, brought up his six children with the encouragement to explore art as a form of self-expression and entertainment.

The evolution of Hagan from a retired maintenance worker at a Catholic High School to a respected KY Folk Artist began with a Christmas gift of paints and canvases from his family. His unexpected journey to artistry, parallel to Joe‘s formal art education, forms an interesting narrative contrast that can be traced in their respective works.

The exhibit opens on Thursday, July 27 at 6:00 pm, with an opportunity to delve deeper into the artists’ processes during an Artist Talk on Thursday, August 17 at 6:00 pm. This collection is a tribute to Hagan McGee, his rural roots, his authentic portrayal of the idyllic past, and his post-retirement journey as an artist. This show stands as a testament to his work, his life, and the profound influence he had on his son Joe – who continues the conversation through his own creative lens. “Trees: A Conversation” is a testament to the power of art to capture memory, interpret the natural world, and bridge generations.

Gallery Dates/Hours
Runs from July  27th – August 31st
Mon, Wed -11am – 2pm, Thursday 4pm-7pm

Place: Mary Anderson Center Gallery
Mount Saint Francis Center for Spirituality
101 St. Anthony Dr.
Mount Saint Francis, IN 47146

Opening Reception
Thursday, July 27th, 6:00 pm

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Artist Talk
Thursday, August 17th, 6:00 pm

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Gallery Dates Hours
Runs from July 27th  – August 31st

Mon, Wed -11am – 2pm Thu 4pm-7pm

More Info

Meet The Artist

Hagan McGee

For 25 years after his retirement at age 65, KY Folk Art painter Hagan McGee, 1927-2017, created hundreds of his distinct acrylic on canvas memory paintings of his youth in the 1930s growing up in the tiny town of Manton, KY. A true Folk Artist (untrained), Hagan showed extensively in the Louisville region and his work can be found in many private and public collections, including the Brown-Foreman Corp., the Kentucky Derby Museum and the KY Folk Art Center in Morehead, KY. Hagan’s parents and family were forced to move to Louisville during the hard years right before WWII, and he served in the Navy on the USS Graffias just as the war was ending. Hagan always dreamed of the magical time of his childhood in the rugged hills of Washington County (he calls one hill the “top of the world”) and he often took his own children back for fishing trips and hikes. This is the first showing of his art since his passing at age 90 in 2017.

Joe McGee

Joe McGee, b. 1954, in Louisville, KY, graduated with honors from the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville, KY in 1986, with a BFA in Sculpture, receiving a Winthrop Allen Award his senior year. In the 35 years since graduation, McGee has maintained a constant biennial solo exhibit schedule of both his 2D and 3D art, showing mostly in regional universities. He also has participated in many group exhibitions over this period. McGee was awarded an SAF/NEA Fellowship in Drawing in 1988, and a KY Arts Council Professional Assistance Award in 1993. His artwork can be found in many private and public collections in the region. For more visit: