Lonnie & Twyla Money
Lonnie and Twyla were both born in Laurel County. Lonnie is descended from Jacob Money, a 19th century Swiss immigrant who had been a wood carver in the old country. Twyla Darty, whose family had farmed in Laurel County for generations, grew up a mile from the house and hilly farm where she and Lonnie lived, near Victory, Kentucky.
During the 1970’s, Lonnie worked for a milk company in London, Kentucky, and began carving in his spare time. In 1979, he resigned from work to operate his own farm with Twyla. As well as raising tobacco, they kept a dairy herd for seven years, until the government began reducing subsidies. They had switched to raising beef cattle and hay, and now rent their tobacco base.
Lonnie’s first piece of wood carving was a bald top cane, made for his grandfather. During the 1970’s, he whittled for his own enjoyment and in the early 1980’s, he started carving for pay blocking out small animals, and letter openers to be finished and sold in Berea.
They converted their milking barn into a studio, where Lonnie carves a variety of animals and Twyla paints them.
In 1999, Lonnie and Twyla moved to a different location on Money Road. It is within a mile of where Lonnie was born. They now have a larger workshop and have begun producing larger pieces of Folk Art. They also began raising gourds so they could produce gourd animals.
Lonnie and Twyla have had many thoughts on the matter of Folk Art over the years. When Lonnie was a young boy, he thought a lot about creating objects from wood, even though he did not really know anything about art. It is hard to explain why Lonnie and Twyla do this kind of work, but when you have a need to do or to accomplish something, the only satisfaction comes from completing the object.
In that they do their own style of art, Lonnie and Twyla are originals. Lonnie still feels an influence from the past and a desire and drive to be creative. At the age of 12, Lonnie’s grandmother told him about his grandfather and his grandfather’s brothers who were woodcarvers in Switzerland. Lonnie began to realize why he had the desire to carve and work with wood. Although Folk Art is often handed down from family member to family member, Lonnie and Twyla did not have these direct family influences. Lonnie and Twyla didn’t even realize the art work they were creating was called Folk Art.
Although Lonnie and Twyla have had no formal training, many people have influenced their work by encouraging them. In 1986, Moses Hamblin encouraged them to take some of their wood carvings and do their first show at the Sue Bennett Folk Festival where dealer Larry Hackley also encouraged them in many ways. Minnie Black was also a great inspiration and introduced them to gourd art.