An artist who goes with the grain

Josh Mitcham likes to make art using reclaimed materials. So one day he took a 1960s-era Coca-Cola crate from his dad’s Breckinridge County, Ky., barn and painted an image on it of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” – that “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” moment when he hacks through the door to get at Shelley Duvall. “It just seemed appropriate, because it looked like he was bustin’ through the wood with those cracks in the crate.”

He shared the image (below) on Facebook and someone commented, “Hey, I like your ‘Jack and Coke’ – that’s clever!”

“And I said, ‘Yeah, yeah – that was exactly what I was doing,’” Mitcham said, chuckling. He hadn’t consciously made the connection, “but I took credit for it!” He has gone on to paint a series of “Jack and Coke” crates, including Jack Nicklaus, Jackie Robinson and the Jack of Hearts.

You can see some of them in the gallery space at Merridian Home Furnishings, 4660 Shelbyville Road in Louisville, which held a reception for the “Bourbon Based Art Show” featuring Mitcham’s Big Head Studios last Friday night. (Rumor has it that Jack Sparrow was headed for the Bloomfield, Ky., farm of Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer.)

Mitcham, who teaches agriculture at Meade County High School and sings and plays rhythm guitar in Floord, a rootsy, Southern rock band, has been making art for a long time but only started pursuing it as a business about eight months ago. “My themes have always been real Kentucky-based things, or iconic images,” he said, and bourbon fit perfectly. He’s captured iconic images of Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve and other brands in acrylic on reclaimed barn wood.

He might paint the occasional Jack Daniels image, but “I won’t drink Tennessee whiskey,” he said. “Limestone water and corn mash are where it’s at.”

You can see more of Mitcham’s work at his website, here. The Merridian show will be up for another week. But don’t even think about buying that Maker’s Mark painting, top: It’s coming home with me.

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The Bourbon Babe

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