2022 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program: Bernard Tappel & John Kirby
2022 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program:
Gigmakers Bernard Tappel & John Kirby
Missouri Folk Arts staff is happy to sustain the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, especially through the last two years! In the current year of the project, the 37th annual, six teams have worked over the last several months to teach and learn their traditions. Staff has been happy to support the artists with master artist honoraria, travel, and supplies with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Missouri Arts Council, Mizzou’s Museum of Art & Archaeology, and individual donors. Staff has also been happy this year to meet face-to-face once again with artists for site visits and events, with even more to come through June. In the upcoming weeks, staff looks forward to delivering participation certificates to 2022 artistic teams in person, when possible (and a few 2021 artists, too).
Gigmakers Bernard Tappel (Osage Bluff) and John Kirby (Grandin) took a different but very effective approach to their apprenticeship. Due to the distance between them (180 miles one way), the team made a plan for Kirby to visit Tappel’s Osage Bluff Blacksmith Shop over three long weekends, where they worked intensively for several hours each day. After their very first weekend in January, Tappel shared images of Kirby’s work and noted the the apprentice finished two gigs that would be tempered at future weekend.
About a month later, Kirby traveled to Osage Bluff again, where the apprentice worked on more fish gigs as well as making some of the tools he needs to make the gigs.
During the team’s final long weekend in early April, our Folk Arts Specialist Deb Bailey had the opportunity to join the blacksmiths in the shop for an in-person site visit, where she documented a portion of the lesson with photographs and listened to the team discuss their work together. The Tappels invited Deb to join them for “pastalaya,” a recipe they brought back from a recent visit to a blacksmith conference in Louisiana.
Not only did Deb Bailey get to document the apprenticeship in person, she and Folk Arts Director Lisa Higgins visited the annual Blacksmiths Association of Missouri conference in Sedalia on April 29 at the historic Missouri State Fairgrounds’ Swine Barn. In the exhibition room, staff found excellent work by BAM! members, including 2021 apprentice John Dilsaver and previous master artist Bob Patrick.
Later, Bailey and Higgins presented certificates signed by the directors of Folk & Traditional Arts at the NEA, the Missouri Arts Council, the Museum, and Missouri Folk Arts. Bonus! Bob Patrick, a 2021 master artist, also accepted a certificate and even gave a little speech about the history of BAM.
Missouri Folk Arts staff discuss the certificates and their significance
Bob Patrick shares some history of BAM!
Bob Patrick with his TAAP certificates
Bernard Tappel with his TAAP certificate
John Kirby with his TAAP certificate
A number of familiar faces were in the crowd as the certificates were presented, including Matthew Burnett (2007 apprentice with the late Ed Harper); Pat McCarty (multi-year master artist); and Lisa Thompson (2019 apprentice with Bob Alexander).
Thanks to BAM! President Santo Guiffrida and all the members for welcoming Missouri Folk Arts staff to the event and cheering on their fellow members.