By ROB W. ANDERSON
The official artwork for this year’s annual Red Fern Festival will be provided by a Tahlequah artist known for his depiction’s of life in Cherokee County.
Murv Jacob’s painting illustrating the moment when two hunters and their hound dogs tree a raccoon will be used as the image for the 2013 event. The image presents a scene in the same fashion as what can be witnessed during the festival’s Hound Dog Field Trials held at Sequoyah City Park. This year’s festival is scheduled to be held Friday and Saturday, April 26 - 27.
Like many fans of the 1961 Wilson Rawls novel about a boy named Billy Coleman who buys and trains two Redbone Coonhounds, Jacob, who is a master artist, has read the book and seen the film and believes the festival highlights activities that are now mostly historical in nature.
“I like the story,” he said. “I think, in a way, it’s outmoded and people don’t really hunt raccoons anymore. It’s pretty much of a lost art. Now, my wife’s father was one of the coon hunters, and my wife, Debbie Duval, has gone coon hunting with him as a child on numerous occasions. They had a couple really good hounds. She was the one who got to feed the hounds.”
Jacob’s artwork has been used in nearly 100 book and video projects for publications or organizations like Doubleday, Time -Life, the University of New Mexico Press and National Geographic.
According to his gallery’s Facebook page, Jacob is the descendent of “Kentucky Cherokees, Alabama Creeks, Black Forest Bavarians and Scottish and English hillbillies and seafarers.” His paintings reflect his Cherokee heritage, and Jacob said use of animals as characters in his work stems from the Cherokee belief that nature and wildlife share a close relationship with man.
“The Cherokees had a funny kind of way of looking at things. They saw all the creatures as being not just a tribe of men, but they saw all the creatures as being brothers,” he said. “The bears were the bear people. The wolves were the wolf people, and the birds were the bird people. And beyond that, the trees were the tree people. They knew something about DNA that we’ve just learned. They knew we were all very much the same, and they were able to deal with that in their heads.”
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