THE CLARION AMERICA'S FOLK ART MAGAZINE The Museum of American Folk Art New York City SPRING/SUMMER 1987 Vol. 12, No. 2/3
A•N•T•I•Q•U•E•S 361 Bleecker St/ New York City 10014/212-989-6760
BALTIMORE ALBUM QUILT, CIRCA 1850 Signed "Margaret S. Floyd:' Center square has eagle holding a flag and Liberty cap, many heart motifs—a perfect gift for the new bride! 84" x 84".
Always interested in purchasing folk art of this quality.
STEVE MILLER • AMERICAN FOLK ART •
"Exceptionally Rare and Large Formal Horse & Rider Weathervane by an early 19th Century anonymous maker'' Subject to prior sale.
17 East 96th Street, New York, New York 10128.(212)348-5219 BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
A pair of chairs decorated in red and green on an eggshell white ground. Pennsylvania, circa 1835.
NNAMA A. MBKEKERS INC.
EAST HAMPTON, NEW YORK BY APPOINTMENT TELEPHONE (516) 537-0779
MAILING ADDRESS: PO. 1014, WAINSCOT!: NEW YORK 11975
A random selection of weathervanes from our current stock.
KENNETH IDA IvIANKO PO Box 20, Moody. Maine 01059 20T 646-2595
We are located in Moody, Maine, Mid-Way between Ogunquit and Wells on coastal Route 1. Our barn gallery is always stocked with country furniture, paintings, weathervanes, and folk art for the advanced collector. 3
One of a pair of portraits by John Brewster, Jr., 1800-1815. Sold on October 18, 1986 for $159,500 the pair.
Folk Art Blossoms at Christie's Our spring sale of American Furniture, Decorative Arts and Folk Art will be held on May 28, 1987. Inquiries concerning upcoming auctions or future consignments may be directed to the American Decorative Arts department at Christie's, 502 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022 Tel: 212/546-1181.
Hirschl & Adler Folk 851 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10021 (212)988-FOLK
(AMERICAN (ANTIQUESU,QUILTS 835 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK,N.Y. 10021 TELEPHONE(212)988-2906
Pieced and appliqued quill: Houses and Willow Trees, late 19th century. Upstate New York.
We are always interested in purchasing exceptional quilts and Arneri(c.ma, collections or indiridual pieces. Photographs returned promptly.
THE CLARION A AMERICA'S FOLK Alt!' MAGAZINE The Museum of American Folk Art New York City SPRING/SUMMER 1987 Vol. 12, No. 2/3 $4.50
FOLK ART OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Volume 12, No. 2/3
FOLK ART OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Introduction Michael D. Hall
YOU MAKE IT WITH YOUR MIND
The Art of Edgar Tolson Shari Cavin Morris
The Spirit in the Wood Chuck Rosenak
REDISCOVERING ANDREA BADAMI
FOUR FROM COAL COUNTRY
Friendships and the Contemporary Folk Artist
INDEX TO ADVERTISERS
Cover: Liz and Helen are two figures from the Possum Trot environment created by Cal and Ruby Black in the second half of the twentieth century in Yermo,California. Made ofcarved and painted wood,they are dressed in found and handmade garments. Collection of the Museum of American Folk Art, Gift of Elizabeth Johnson (1985.35.8,3). Photo: Janna W. Josephson. The Clarion is published three times a year by the Museum of American Folk Art,444 Park Avenue South, NY,NY 10016;212/481-3080. Annual subscription rate for MAFA members is included in membership dues. Copies are mailed to all members. Single copy $4.50. Published and copyright 1987 by the Museum of American Folk Art,444 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10016. The cover and contents of The Clarion are fully protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner without written consent. Opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the Museum of American Folk Art. Unsolicited manuscripts or photographs should be accompanied by return postage. The Clarion assumes no responsibility for the loss or damage of such materials. Change of Address: Please send both old and new addresses and allow five weeks for change. Advertising: The Clarion accepts advertisements only from advertisers whose reputation is recognized in the trade, but despite the care with which the advertising department screens photographs and texts submitted by its advertisers, it cannot guarantee the unquestionable authenticity of objects of quality or services advertised in its pages or offered for sale by its advertisers, nor can it accept responsibility for misunderstandings that may arise from the purchase or sale of objects or services advertised in its pages. The Museum is dedicated to the exhibition and interpretation of folk art and feels it is a violation of its principles to be involved in or to appear to be involved in the sale of works of art. For this reason, the Museum will not knowingly accept advertisements for The Clarion which illustrate or describe objects that have been exhibited at the Museum within one year of the placing of the advertisement. 7
Didi Barrett, Editor Faye Eng, Anthony Yee,Art Directors Marilyn Brechner, Advertising Manager Willa S. Rosenberg, Assistant Editor Craftsmen Litho,Printers Nassau Typographers, Typesetters
MUSEUM OF AMERICAN FOLK ART
Administration Dr. Robert Bishop, Director Gerard C. Wertkin, Assistant Director Cheryl Hoenemeyer, Accountant Lillian Grossman, Assistant to the Director Jeanne Bornstein, Administrative Assistant Barry Gallo, Reception Richard Griffin, Office Manager Jerry Torrens, Assistant Clerk Collections & Exhibitions Elizabeth Warren, Curator Michael McManus,Director ofExhibitions Ann-Marie Reilly, Registrar Joyce Hill, Consulting Research Curator Mary Black, Consulting Curator
DRESS FORM 57" HIGH C.1890-1900 LOOKS LIKE IT WAS MADE FROM A CHILDS ERECTER SET
ANNOUNCING OUR NEW LOCATION
WHITELEY GALLERY 303 NORTH SWEETZER AVENUE LOS ANGELES, CA 90048 (213)658-8820 (BY APPOINTMENT ONLY)
Departments Didi Barrett, Director ofPublications Carolyn Cohen, Director ofSpecial Events Marie S. DiManno,Director ofMuseum Shops Susan Flamm,Public Relations Director Barbara W. Kaufman-Cate, Director ofEducation Edith Wise,Librarian Johleen Nester, Director ofDevelopment Janey Fire, Karla Friedlich, Photographic Services Programs Barbara W. Kaufman-Cate, Director, Folk Art Institute Phyllis A. Tepper, Registrar, Folk Art Institute Dr. Marilynn Karp, Director, New York University Master's and Ph.D. Program in Folk Art Studies Dr. Judith Reiter Weissman, New York University Program Coordinator Cecilia K. Toth, Jane Walentas, Co-Chairs Friends Committee Kennetha Stewart, Exhibitions Previews Coordinator Susan Moore, Junior League Liaison Museum Shop Staff Caroline Hohenrath, Sally O'Day, Rita Pollitt, Managers Joseph Minus, Assistant Sheila Carlisle, Elizabeth Cassidy, Camilla Crist, Lucy Fagot, Dorothy Gargiulo, Elli Gordon, Eleanor Katz, Annette Levande, Katie McAuliffe, Nancy Mayer, Marie Peluso, Eleanor Seymour, Myra Shaskan, Claire Spiezio, Doris Stack, Mary Walmsly, Gina Westby, Doris Wolfson.
David Butler Whirligig polychromed steel and wood ca. 1965 28 x 41 x23"
Offering a comprehensive selection of works by the finest Twentieth Century American self-taught artists.
Janet Fleisher GALLERY 211 South 17th Street PHILADELPHIA PA 1 9 1 0 3 215/545-7562 9
"Tasmanian Tiger II" 1986,45" x 48" Enamel,sand and found objects on masonite.
"Rattle Snake" 1986,42" x 48" Enamel,sand and glitter on mascmite.
We specialize in and wish to purchase 18th, 19th and 20th century Primitive American art and objects of uncommonly fine design. We continue to be the exclusive representative ofthe work of William Hawkins. By appointment 212â€˘505-1463/212-673-1078
PHYLLIS HADERS ANTIQUE QUILTS & ACCESSORIES 158 Water Street, Stonington, Connecticut 06378 By Appointment (203)535-4403•(203)535-2585 *NI
Doll Quilt 18" x 18;' circa 1880 11
1037 North Street
Greenwich, Conn. 06830
LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR DR. ROBERT BISHOP
Regardless of where you live in the United States, during the next several months an exhibition of American folk art organized by the Museum of American Folk Art will probably open at a museum in your area. This expansion of exhibition programming has occurred as the result of a conscious effort to "nationalize" our institution and at the same time reach an ever-widening audience. As we go to press "American Folk Art: Expressions of a New Spirit;' is being shown at The Nickle Arts Museum in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Two quilt exhibitions,"Made in U.S.A:'and "The Great American Quilt Prize Winners Show:' are nearly ready for shipment to Japan where they will be shown at five locations. This is the exhibit that has attracted over two and a half million people in presentations in the United States during the last year. To maximize efforts to serve as an exhibition center for American folk arts, the Museum has created a new department headed by Michael McManus. Together with Elizabeth Warren, Curator; Ann-Marie Reilly, Registrar; Johleen Nester, Director of Development and members of the exhibition committee, an extensive program is now ready for introduction. If you wish to know more about the ten new Museum of American Folk Art exhibitions available to your area museum, write to.: Michael McManus, Exhibitions Coordinator Museum of American Folk Art 444 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10016 We are proud of our new exhibitions program and hope you will suggest our shows to your local cultural institutions. The following is a listing of the Museum of American Folk Art's current exhibition schedule:
The permanent collection show AMERICAN FOLK ART: EXPRESSIONS OF A NEW SPIRIT, supported by United Technologies, is currently in Canada and is scheduled at the following locations: Nickle Arts Museum Calgary, Alberta May 29-August 2, 1987 Maison Chevalier Quebec City, Quebec Sept. 17-Nov. 8, 1987 Conner Prairie Noblesville, Indiana April 30-July 5, 1988
tracted large numbers of visitors. It continues its tour to the following venues: Sacramento Community Convention Center Sacramento, California March 27-29, 1987 American Museum of Quilts and Textiles San Jose, California April 6-30, 1987 Tulip Time Festival Holland, Michigan May 11-20, 1987 Takashimaya Department Stores Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, Japan June, July, August 1987 Salem Mall Dayton, Ohio Sept. 16-Oct. 11, 1987 The Mall in St. Matthews Louisville, Kentucky Oct. 15-Nov. 11, 1987 Henry Morrison Flagler Museum Palm Beach, Florida Nov. 25, 1987-Jan. 20, 1988
AMERICAN WILDFOWL DECOYS will be shown at: Brandywine River Museum Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania May 21-August 1, 1987 New York State Museum Albany, New York January 30-April 1988 Midland County Historical Society Midland, Michigan May 15-July 9, 1988 Portland Art Museum Portland, Oregon July 9-Sept. 2, 1989 Orlando Museum of Art Orlando, Florida Dec. 24, 1989-Feb. 17, 1990
Salt Lake City Art Center Salt Lake City, Utah Feb. 15-April 10, 1988 Mingei International Museum of World Folk Art La Jolla, California May 9-July 5, 1988 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum Auburn,Indiana Aug. 1-Sept. 25, 1988 Hickory Museum of Art Hickory, North Carolina Oct. 24-Dec. 18, 1988 "MADE IN U.S.A7 fifteen quilts from the Museum ofAmerican Folk Art permanent collection will be shown in Takashimaya Department Stores in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Kyoto, Japan throughout June, July and August 1987.
Detroit Historical Museum Detroit, Michigan through May 24, 1987
"YOUNG AMERICA: A FOLK ART HISTORY" received great critical acclaim when it was shown in New York at the IBM Gallery of Science and Art. This major loan exhibition, organized by the Museum of American Folk Art and supported by IBM,is traveling to the following museums:
Craft and Folk Art Museum Los Angeles, California June 10-August 16, 1987
Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village Dearborn, Michigan through October 11, 1987
THE GREAT AMERICAN QUILT FESTIVAL PRIZE WINNERS SHOW has at-
The Mint Museum of Art Charlotte, North Carolina November 7, 1987-January 3, 1988
LIBERTIES WITH LIBERTY, funded by Xerox, is completing its itinerary:
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Iron Garden Figure Early 20th C. ht. 41 Inches
AMERICAN PRIMITIVE GALLERY Aarne Anton (212) 239-1345
Mon.-Fri. 10a.m.-5:30 p.m. or by appt. 242 West 30th St., N.Y., N.Y. 10001
Wine, women and songâ€”complete with silver goblets worked in metallic thread. These are among the details in this wonderful English 17th century silk needlework picture of scenes from the story of the Prodigal Son. 111 / 2" x 12".
SHEILA &EDWIN RIDEOUT 12 Summer Street, Wiscasset, Maine 04578 (207)-882-6420
Pair of RARE New Lebanon side chairs with titters in natural finish. Circa 1859. Seat height: 16 inches.
Ilr Dealers al Rare Shaker tor Museums and Collectors Appraisals outhentecolors.
. 1 . 11 R.D. BOX 226 RAUP ROAD CHATHAM NEW YORK 12037 518 392-9654
Shaker Gallery open year-round on weekends by appointment featuring the broadest selection of quality Shaker furnishings and artifacts.
743 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021 Telephone 212/734-3262
Specializing in Fine American Country Furniture, Folk Art, Weathervanes,Canton Porcelain, Toys and Banks.
FOLK ART 141 Lincoln Ave. Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 1-505-983-1660 1-505-988-1218
The Clokeys By appointment only (612-473-3251) 18693 Heathcote Drive, Deephaven, Minnesota 55391
Tiny Treasure A patriotic doll's quilt 19th Century Red, White and Blue Calico 22" X 22"
We are always interested in purchasing similar items. Ilk
Fine Arts of Ancient Lands Inc. 12 EAST 86 STREET NEW YORK, N.Y. 10028 SUITE 1431 (212)249-7442
A Carchi Culture Coca Chewer Effigy Ceramic, Seated with Negative Resist Paint Headband Crown with Sacrificial Hands from the Northern Highlands Region Circa 1000-1500 AD, Equador.
01986 John Bigelow Taylor
American Folk Art Sidney Gecker 226 West 21st Street New York, N.Y. 10011
(212)929-8769 Appointment suggested
EXCEEDINGLY RARE PENNSYLVANIA FANTAIL CARVED ROOSTER 19th century, old brown stain with red painted comb,base carved at later date, 12 inches high. Similar example illustrated in Lichten Folk Art ofRural Pennsylvania, p.10
(Subject to prior sale)
ANTIQUES AND ACCESSORIES FOR THE KITCHEN AND KEEPING ROOM from America,England and the Continent
Please send $2.for the third in our series of "Ironfor the Hearth" brochures.
PAT GUTHMAN ANTIQUES 342 PEQUOT ROAD • SOUTHPORT • CT • 06490
TEL • 203-259-5743 TUESDAY—SATURDAY: 10 AM-5 PM or by appointment
ExkitAitioNs 110K At Ova The Summer exhibition season is just about in full swing. No matter where summer travels lead, there are interesting exhibitions for all folk art aficionados...
The sketchbook of watercolorist Lewis Miller, Orbis Pictus, a rare nineteenth century folk artist's view of life, love and religion, is offered by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, VA,until November 29, 1987... Fans of regional folk art take note ofseveral shows around the country. The McKissick Museum at the University of South
Sunset Boulevard by Marlene Zimmerman
Carolina in Columbia is offering "Above the Fall Line: Folk Art of the Southern Piedmont" ... "Handmade and Heartfelt: Contemporary Folk Art in Texas;' the first major touring exhibition to examine folk art today in Texas opens on May 24 at The Museum, Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Running until July 18, 1987, the exhibition is a joint effort of the Texas Folklife Resource and the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, both in Austin . ."From Hardanger to Harleys: A Survey of Wisconsin Folk Are,' organized by the J.M. Kohler Arts Center will travel to the State Historical Society, Madison, from June 6 to August 30, 1987... See "Postcard from Florida" for news of exhibitions in that state... American paintings, furniture and decorative arts of
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from the collection of the venerable Albany (New York) Institute of History and Art can be seen from May 23 to October 11, 1987, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4:45 pm, and Sunday 2 to 5 pm... And the Frank S. Schwarz and Son Gallery, 1806 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, is holding a unique exhibition of paintings by the first family of American painting. Some fifteen members — representing four generations beginning with patriarch Charles Willson Peale — of the famous painting Peales are rep-
The American Craft Museum, 40 West 53rd Street, New York City (tel. 212/956-6047) weaves together art, craft and anthropology with its current exhibition called "Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric" organized by celebrated designer Jack Lenor Larsen. Larsen explores the origins — in early baskets, ropes and nets — and the many manifestations — from weaving to braiding to knotting — of the process he calls "interlacing:' Some 150 traditional and contemporary objects — all examples of some form of interlacing — have been assembled by
For those going abroad this summer, Galerje Grada in Zahgreb, Yugoslavia is mounting a giant international art exhibition called Naive '87 from June 28 to August 2, 1987. Representing the U.S. in this multi-national show will be California artist Marlene Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who has been widely celebrated in Europe for her colorful family portraits and Los Angeles street scenes was included last year in the exhibitions "Cat and Ball on a Waterfall: 200 Years of California Folk Art" at the Oakland Museum of Art and "Joyful Visions" at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in L.A.
aw1 gySEIRPON 9861 61) 'AliV P!AEC1
Quilt lovers will not want to miss the opportunity to see renowned collector David Pottinger's Indiana Amish quilts — along with other objects from the Pottinger collection — on view until June 7, 1987 at the Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC. Also of note is an exhibition at Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax St., Arlington, VA, of northern Virginia quilts dating from 1788,the year of Virginia's statehood through 1985; call 703/549-2997 for more information...
resented in "A Gallery Collects Peales:' which runs until June 27, 1987. As an added bonus, the Schwarz gallery has produced a checklist of Peales in major Philadelphia collections as a walking tour guide...
Papua New Guinea Ceremonial Adz
Larsen from forty countries. The exhibition continues until July 17 before beginning a national tour. A 278-page book, published by Kodansha International, accompanies the show.
Outsider Art Cavin-Morris Inc. 100 Hudson Street, New York 10015 212.226.5768
Andrea Badami, "Resting: oil on canvas, 40 x 301/2"
Florida is the site this summer of two exhibitions celebrating the work of American folk artists. "A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentrics" is a dazzling exhibition of 280 pieces by fourteen self-taught artists. Presented at the Museum of Art, 1 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale (tel. 305/525-5500), until July 12, the exhibition, in an edited form, is scheduled to travel to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota in late summer. It will move to Valencia Community College in Orlando in September, and Florida State University in Tallahassee will host the exhibition in October. In addition to paintings, sculptures and wood carvings, the exhibition includes electronic assemblages, video presentations and full installations. While some of the artists, such as sculptor Jesse Aaron, painter Earl Cunningham, and relief
carver Mario Sanchez, are widely known, most are new discoveries of curator Karen Valdes, who tracked the state for a year in search of new talent. Among her finds: Ukrainian refugee George Voronvsky, whose Miami Beach apartment was "decorated like an Easter egg;' according to Valdes; Jacob Kass of Key Largo, who painted detailed landscapes on the blades of handsaws;and a crippled black man with a paint-
ing style reminiscent of Georges Rouault called Mr. Eddy. A thirty page illustrated catalogue is available. While most of the artists in "A Separate Reality" just happen to be elderly, the twenty artists represented in "Young at Art: Bridging the Generations" were selected, in part, because they are over sixty years of age. Presented by the Miami Youth Museum, located in Bakery Center, 5701 Sunset Drive,
South Miami (tel. 305/6612787), from June through October, this exhibition is intended to teach young museum-goers that "creativity is ageless;' explains exhibition coordinator Ilene Primack. A range of media — painting, sculpture, textiles among others — will be included in "Young at Art;' which features nationally recognized artists like Mattie Lou O'Kelley, as well as local unknowns. — Candice Russell
dude Folk Portraits: Mirrors of American Character and American Textiles, as well as Restoring Your Old House,The Frugal Housewife, Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographs, Community History,
and courses on security and photography for the museum and historical society. For further information, contact the Seminars Program, NYSHA, Box 800, Dept. P, Cooperstown, NY 11326; 607/547-2534.
The 40th annual Seminars in American Culture, presented by the New York State Historical Association on the shores of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, NY, will be held this summer from July 5 to 11. Courses in-
Large Blackhawk Weathervane, New England, Circa 1880
2661 Cedar Street Berkeley, California 94708 415 845-4949
â€˘ Concurrent with the changing exhibits, our extensive collection of tramp art, quilts, cookware, folk painting and sculpture are always on view. Phone or write for exhibit information, hours, or appointment.
CANADIAN MATERIAL CULTURE I read with interest Mr. Apfelbaum's review of the Spirit of Nova Scotia catalogue in your Fall 1986 issue (Vol. 11, No. 4). As curator of the show I thought your readers might be interested in my response. I was surprised by his comments that he considered the framework of the catalogue and exhibition a "limited, bare bones approach" stating that in my terms "it is the 'cultural artifact' which is truly folk art, and if community values are not expressed, it really isn't folk art at all:' suggesting that objects of folk art could be made outside the influence of community and cultural values. I must confess it never occurred to me that by considering objects "within their cultural context" I would be taking such an unfamiliar road in interpreting this material, an approach Mr. Apfelbaum ends the review by calling "theoretical parochialism!' One can only assume from such comments that he is either not familiar with the Ames exhibition and catalogue Beyond Necessity: Art in the Folk Tradition, (1977) and the methodology of material history (to name only two), or simply prescribes to a more "populist" interpretation of folk art. It is clearly stated in the Introduction to the catalogue that the framework for the exhibition defines "traditional decorative folk art [as those objects] produced within the historical and materik context of the maker, the owner, and the community where both lived. Material folk culture is the expression, through objects, of ethnic traditions, life experiences, occupations, materials, skills, consumer taste and developing fashion, and the presence of
similar groups of objects within the maker's domestic and communal environment!' Is this a "limited, bare bones approach?"Does attempting to examine and interpret folk art objects without losing sight of the people who made and owned them, and the communities in which they were used, constitute a form of "theoretical parochialism?"!think not, and! would argue that the majority of serious collectors, students, and scholars working in the field of folk art and material history would not think so either. Actually, I do not think Mr. Apfelbaum really does either as he slips for a moment from his role as book reviewer to state, "The superlative captions in the catalogue give all the standard information — title, location, dimensions, materials, artist and date — as well as brief biographies of the artists when possible, provenance, description of image depicted, exhibition history and physical structure!' This sounds to me like someone who enjoyed information which, one way or another, helped to place these objects within their cultural, historical and material framework. Although I could comment on other aspects of this review, just two more responses will suffice. First, sailor's valentines are expressions of Nova Scotia decorative folk art even though, as Mr. Apfelbaum states, they were made within the AfroCaribbean tradition. They are examples of folk art which reflect the seafaring history of the Province, and the practice of sailors to not only create folk objects for themselves and loved ones, but to return with objects from their voyages and foreign ports of call, which now form part of the material folk history of Nova Scotia. Finally, I would finish with
tography has been oddly lacking in folk art scholarship. Therefore, it is highly significant to have Julian Wolff's article "Daguerreotypes as Folk Art" appear in The Clarion (Fall 1986, Vol. 11, No. 4)at the same time that photographs have been included in the exhibition "Young America:' Hopefully those events will begin a dialogue on the subject of folk art and photography between scholars of both fields, since there exists considerable doubt and confusion on the topic on both sides. In the same issue of The Clarion that carries Mr. Wolffs article, Jean Lipman responded to a query as to why photography was included in the "Young America" exhibition after "... not having been accepted as folk art before!' The answer was "... It isn't a question of not being accepted; that implies rejection. It just did not come to anybody's attention:' Despite Mrs. Lipman's laudable intention to remove any blocks or prejudice there might be to considering some photographs as folk art by making such a response, she does not adequately answer the question. Certainly, until recently, those photographs with strong relationship to other forms of folk art have not been removed from their original place in the matrix of individual ownership and gathered together in sufficient quantities to allow scholRichard Henning Field arly appraisal. However, phoCurator tographica collectors, such as Spirit of Nova Scotia: Mr. Wolff, stimulated and eduTraditional Decorative cated by the proliferation of Folk Art 1780-1930 exhibits and publications offolk art, have begun to collect such photographs. Indeed, the literFOLK PHOTOGRAPHY ature of photography has abundant, if not elaborate, referAn examination and discussion ences to the folk art qualities of of the folk art element in nine- photographs, particularly in the teenth century American pho- daguerreotype. Though folk art
the observation that all folk art, contemporary and traditional, can only be examined and understood within the cultural and historical framework of its owner and maker. The methodology of material history is leading the way in restructuring how we understand the past. Exhibitions and catalogues such as New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1982) are important examples of how objects can be interpreted and incorporated into our traditional evaluation and understanding of history. The study of folk art is no different. If we lose touch with the maker behind the folk object and the communal and cultural context in which it was made, then we all lose a piece of our past, and an important part of our potential for historical awareness and understanding. It is time to leave behind the purely aesthetic appreciation and evaluation of folk art — a "populist" viewpoint that condemns certain examples of folk art because they are not"masterworks" and an attitude stemming from the marketplace which perpetuates financial worth and descriptive value — and turn to a more scholarly approach to the study and interpretation of folk art. Perhaps then the enigma of folk art will finally be resolved, and a consensus definition arrived at.
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Standingfigure oj Christ Flagellated. By: Jose Benito Ortega. New Mexico. 19th century 29inches high. •AMERICAN INDIAN ARTIFACTS •COWBOY RELICS •MEXICAN COLONIAL •ECCENTRIC COLLECTIBLES •ALL WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI 26
scholars may have little knowledge ofthe field of photography, they can hardly have avoided noticing such photographs. After all, they are encountered in the very same places that folk art artifacts such as paintings, quilts, needlework, etc., are collected; that is, out of the personal effects of American families. Thus, some other explanation must be offered. I believe that a number of factors account for such a curious absence of photographs in collections, shows and publications offolk art, amongst which -rejection" surely has a place, although such rejection might be unconscious and temporary. Photography presents certain features in the abstract which have traditionally excluded it from falling within the commonly held concept of what makes folk art. The general notion that photographs are "optically rear "multiples" and somehow "machine made" no doubt has kept traditionalist folk art scholars from regarding photographs as being potentially valid forms of folk art. Ironically, the long standing prejudice against valuing any photograph as fine art, probably also blinded folk art scholars, collectors and dealers. But they, having fought similar prejudices against folk art, should know better. Although there are very good reasons to overcome these superficial impediments to adding photographs to the growing number of folk art forms, there remains very sound reasons to hesitate and proceed with caution. Photography, perhaps more than any other visual medium, presents very complex problems for those seeking to categorize and analyze completely the images generated by that means. Technical, commercial and social factors are in-
extricably intermingled with aesthetics in every photographic document. No single definition or system will serve all photographs. I may confidently assert that there is such a thing as"Folk Art Photography" and others would loudly concur. However, I have no doubt that we would differ wildly in which photographs we discerned as such and why. It is an issue very much like the daguerreotype itself, which changes its aspect dramatically depending upon one's angle of view and the light in which you examine it. The specialized fields of photographica and folk art collecting and scholarship share remarkable similarities and, it seems, some common ground. Yet, each field does not know enough of the other's and mistakes can and have been made on the subject of"Folk Art Photography:' If we are to avoid uninformed mistakes and mutually benefit from a clear delineation of the folk art element in photography, some definition of "Folk Art Photography" must be evolved through dialogue between scholars and collectors of both areas. Since The Clarion and the Museum of American Folk Art have made the imortant initiatory step in opening the issue I would hope that they would sustain interest in the subject by continuing attention to photography. Perhaps this could be done by soliciting a number of individuals to present their definition of "Folk Art Photography" in the pages of The Clarion. I know that I, for one, would greatly enjoy and profit from learning the opinion of others on the subject. Grant B. Romer Conservator International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House
•• • The Fall 1986 issue of The Clarion included an article on daguerreotypes and mentioned the interest in photography at the Museum of American Folk Art. For some time I have considered the possibility that the Cyanotype process produced "folk art" photography, for it was often used by the common person to portray their family at home in everyday activities, their animals and pets, and to produce objects of utility for their homes. William Crawford in Keepers of the Light notes "they often have a special charm that reflects the casual and completely unpretentious way the process was used!' The Cyanotype process developed by John Herschel in 1842 is a deceptively simple and very inexpensive process. An object or negative is placed on a fabric coated with light sensitive chemical solution and exposed to sunlight. Where the object casts a shadow, no sunlight reaches the fabric, no reaction occurs and the chemicals wash out in the developing tray leaving a white shadow image on the support material. The Encyclopedia of Photography notes that the Cyanotype process has been in continued use with relatively few changes to the present time. Many are aware of the process only as it relates to reproducing notes and drawings. Photograms printed with biological specimens have always been a popular use for this process. A recent important publication, Sun Gardens — Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins with text by Larry J. Schaaf, shares Atkins photograms of British Algae printed in 1843. I have been teaching quiltmaking and other fabric/fiber arts since the early 1970's. My
specialty is the Cyanotype process. I work on both paper and fabric and especially enjoy printing photograms with natural objects and working for fine detail, sharp white images, and those beautiful deep blues! Because of the brilliant blue serious photographers were discouraged from using the Cyanotype for other than printing proofs, but many amateurs prepared their own paper for printing. Eastman Kodak produced Cyanotype or Ferro Prussiate paper from 1892 to 1916, and postcards on Ferro Prussiate paper from 1906 to 1916. I personally collect both paper and fabric Cyanotype prints. I am searching for further slides of old quilts containing photographic images to use in my lectures and workshops. The International Museum of Photography has a few, and I have located others, but they are rare. If anyone has information on Cyanotype quilts or pillows I would appreciate hearing from them.
FOLK ART GALLERY
Betty Ferguson Richland, WA
FOLK ART "MANIA" In his stimulating article in the Winter 1987 issue, Prof. Eugene Metcalf raises serious questions about folk art that might tend to destroy its artistic merit by saying that its value rests mainly on its service as a nostalgic remembrance of that rural era when Americans believed God's will had appointed this country as man's last best hope. Folk art, like all art, reflects the society it is created for. But folk art, more than high art, reflects society without the inherited elements of international culture. High art has always been tied to these forces
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even when dealing with common life, as in Caleb Bingham's nineteenth century paintings of river life. Until the late nineteenth century, Americans believed they were creating "a city on a or a golden city, as Cotton Mather put it. Folk art reflected this by portraying Washington as a god or saint, sometimes carried into the sky by angels. Uncle Sam stood tall, the American flag waved in an unfailing wind, and the American eagle was majestic — it's wings dominated the landscape. This view, however, was undermined by events of the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries and a new view of America began to emerge. Folk art reflected this, too. In this century, one folk artist made a bird house of Uncle Sam's head where the bird enters through the mouth. That satirical artifact speaks as much to the disenchantment of America as does H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis or Norman Mailer. Yet, it speaks more directly. The value of collecting folk art is that it does not speak in elaborate metaphors or use shades of irony in delivering its message. This is why high artists have always been interested in using the ideas of folk art. Folk art can also be collected to show the development of a particular consciousness: The artistic mind's concepts of a changing world as communicated by an unsophisticated hand. It is the way that these concepts are transmitted to the handmade object that makes folk art so fascinating. John Lamb History Department Lewis University Romeoville, IL
• •• Thanks for including Eugene Metcalf, Jr.'s article "From the Mundane to the Miraculous" in your Winter 1987 issue of The Clarion. I read it several times and find it a well researched, well thought out and well written article. Almost every base from a psychological point of view is covered and the article is one important tool in trying to comprehend our "mania" for American folk art. The article is a significant contribution to our understanding process. Barbara S. Janos New York, NY
"WE THE OUILTERS ..." I am delighted that you have included information about"We The Quilters ... which is being coordinated by the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild in the Winter 1987 issue of The Clarion. Response to our competition has already been strong in much of the Appalachian region. With the addition of the listing in your magazine many more interested folk will have an opportunity to learn about the show. Thank you again for including us in your fine publication. James Gentry Director Southern Highland Handicraft Guild
THE CLARION welcomes letters on all issues related to American folk art. Correspondence should be addressed to The Clarion, Museum of American Folk Art, 444 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10016. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
CARVED POWDER HORNS Indigenous to North America and one of our earliest art forms A beautifully carved powder horn documented with the name,Ichabod Robie;the date,1766;and the town,Chestertown(New Hampshire).In 1776 Robie served in the New York campaign in Capt. Daniel Runnel's company, Col. Thomas Tash's New Hampshire regiment, L,15".
BUTIIMAN AMERICANA Mail:P.O. Box 392 Westport, Conn. 06881 By appointment only (203)259-9763
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0.W."PAPPY" KITCHENS (1901-1986) "Dunlap at Work," acrylic on masonite, 1971 25" x 19"
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Twentieth Century Outsider and Folk Art 31
FOLK ART OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY I In r ,
INTRODUCTION BY DIDI BARRETT
Miles Carpenter; Virginia; 1971; Carved and painted wood;22W x 28/ 1 4 "x 27 / 3 4". Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. Collection of American Folk Art in the National Museum ofAmerican Art.
Twentieth century folk art officially came of age earlier this year when the National Museum of American Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution, announced the $1.4 million acquisition of an important group of objects from the collection of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. One of the legendary figures in the collecting of American folk art — much to his embarassment he
Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., will be guest curator of a special exhibition presented by the Museum of American Folk Art at Sotheby's, York Avenue and 72nd Street, New York City, in July and August. Featuring three centuries of American folk art — of all media — from the Museum's permanent collection, this exhibition will be highlighted by recent accessions, as well as works which have rarely, if ever, been seen. This project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
has, more than once,been referred to as "Mr. Folk Art" — Hemphill is generally credited with broadening the traditional boundaries of folk art to include work of the twentieth century. In 1970, he organized the ground-breaking exhibition "Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists" for the Museum of American Folk Art. Four years later he co-authored, with Julia Weissman, a book by the same title which is still considered the "bible" of the field. Most importantly, Hemphill has championed twentieth century folk art through his own extensive collecting activities. Ofthe 378 works acquired by the Smithsonian in a year-end arrangement that was part purchase and part gift, 213 are twentieth century pieces, and 165 date from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Significantly, nearly all of the more than one thousand works remaining in Hemphill's collection are examples of twentieth century American folk art. "The twentieth century material is mainly what I'm interested in;' says Hemphill. "I lost my
interest in nineteenth century some time back. I'll buy a drawing occassionally, but generally they bore me — except for the masterpieces:' The sale to the Smithsonian has not perceptably altered Hemphill's collecting pattern. "I'm as erratic and as catholic as ever;' he says. "I can't analyze my aesthetic, though other people say they can. I just buy what I like, as I always have. I've always felt that's what makes a great collection. It's totally different from a collector who follows the advice of others!' The "Hemphill aesthetic;' which tends to appreciate the outrageous, unusual or eccentric in American folk art — as opposed to the pretty or decorative — was publicly validated by the Smithsonian accession. As a result, Hemphill may find that he faces stiff competition in the marketplace for the type of piece that, in the past, only he would have been likely to love. "That kind of piece is becoming more mainstream;' he says. "I'll just have to get to the shows earlier:'
Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution
The Hemphill aesthetic began to form early on. Raised in "a Tiffany studio house in Atlantic City;' Hemphill bought his first decoy at age seven. After a semester of college, he spent a year abroad, mostly in Switzerland. There he discovered Paul Klee, who was an early influence on Hemphill's own painting. Another favorite was the Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel. Hemphill formed collections of African, Pre-Columbian and contemporary art before concentrating full time on American folk art. Although he learned the field of folk art at the knees of such eminent figures as Mary Allis, Alice Winchester, Cordelia Hamilton and others, Hemphill claims he was always the "black sheep. They'd pat me on the head and say, 'You'll get over it But I didn't:' A founder, and the first curator, of the Museum of American Folk Art, Hemphill raised more than a few eyebrows in the early Seventies with his series of exhibitions aimed at attracting a new, younger audience. "TwentiethCentury American Folk Art and Artists" was part of that series. So were exhibitions on macrame, tatoo art, and the occult. Attendance soared. The Hemphill Collection at the National Museum of American Art is, as much as possible, "a portrait of [Hemphill's] own aesthetic approach to collecting7 says Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, Associate Curator ofPainting and Sculpture and the driving force behind the museum's acquisition of the collection. "Bert's forte is not only the eccentric; his eye is best developed in the three-dimensional area!' Not surprisingly, therefore, nearly two thirds of the collection are three-dimensional pieces. The selection process was a cooperative effort between Hemphill and the curators. Most of the work was done in Hemphill's small, remarkably full apartment. "We taped him as we went from object to object:' explains Hartigan."He told us up front he wouldn't
Portrait of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr.; Reverend Howard Finster; Georgia; 1979; Oil on plywood; 79/ 1 2"x 50"; Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. Collection of American Folk Art in the National Museum ofAmerican Art.
be offended if we didn't like his favorite piece, or an artist he had championed. He had a very levelheaded approach. An ego didn't come roaring out of the closet:' In about ten cases the museum asked for pieces that Hemphill wasn't ready to part with yet. "I hadn't lived with them enough:' he explains. Other pieces were passed over — Justin McCarthy's movie star drawings, for instance — because the museum already had sufficient examples in the collection. Hemphill's legal commitment to the Smithsonian is limited to this transaction. However an understanding "best characterized as a gentleman's agreement:' according to Hartigan, gives the museum first refusal on current and future works in Hemphill's collection. "He wanted to know, and we wanted him to know, that we are going to remain interested in American folk art and in his collection;' says Hartigan. "We've told him what other pieces we're interested in; and he keeps us posted on what he's acquiring:'
The Hemphill accession brings the National Museum of American Art's collection of American folk art to 542 pieces. This is not a huge number compared with the collections of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Shelburne Museum, Museum of American Folk Art or other museums specializing in the field. Nonetheless, the accession is significant for two major reasons. It is the first museum folk art collection to emphasize the work of the twentieth century; and it reflects the strongest commitment to folk art by a major institution devoted to the broader field of American art. The Smithsonian's collection of American art is a natural place for a visible display of American folk art. As folk art takes its rightful place in the continuum of American — and world — art, it must be exhibited in the full context of art history. Greater understanding of American folk art — of any century — comes from viewing it with contemporaneous fine art. Similarly, the study offolk art enhances appreciation of much modern art. The abstracted shape of a decoy or the kinetic movement of a whirligig have much to say about the meaning of contemporary sculpture. Through its commitment to American folk art, the National Museum of American Art presents a challenge, not a threat, to museums specializing in folk art. It has given folk art a major league platform. But, the field will have to prove that is where it belongs. Good looks alone will no longer suffice. If folk art is to be taken seriously as art, folk art museums must make an increased commitment to the careful research and thorough scholarship that will make folk art worthy company to the rest of American art history. Part of the Smithsonian's agreement with Hemphill stipulates that a major exhibition and catalogue of the collection will be presented within four years. Hartigan, who has applied for a grant to visit museum folk art collections 33
around the country, hopes this project will result in a greater understanding of how folk art can best be studied and how this scholarship can be used. Hartigan also plans to "help the Smithsonian develop a consistant umbrella policy for American folk art:' Currently, folk art falls under the purview of four separate branches of the Smithsonian. Treatment of the subject varies from branch to branch. The National Museum of American Art, before the Hemphill accession, presented a small display of folk art, naturally, in an art museum context. The National Museum of American History, through its Division of Cultural Life, has a substantial collection of folk art and artifacts. They are only occasionally displayed, however, and then usually as props in room settings. The Archives of American Art actively interviews and records living folk artists and gathers other background resource material. In addition, the Office of Folklife Programs, founded in 1977, promotes American folk culture â€” which includes music, dancing, storytelling and other shared traditions, as well as folk art â€” through field work, festivals and demonstrations. Important as the Smithsonian's Hemphill accession is for the broader acceptance of twentieth century folk art, it follows a history of more than fifty years, albeit sporadic, ofappreciation for the contemproary self-taught artist. Initially, the Museum of Modem Art was in the forefront. Fighting, as it was,for the acceptance of modem art in America, the newly formed museum openly embraced other art forms from traditional folk art to African art to photography. In 1937, the Modern mounted an exhibition of the work of the Tennessee stonecarver Will Edmondson, the son of slaves, who had been brought to the museum's attention by photographer Louise Dahl-Wolf. "Masters of Popular Painting:' presented the following year, included work by contemporary American self34
Photo: Courtesy of The Galerie St. Etienne
Highlander;John Kane;Pennsylvania;First half ofthe 20th century; Oil on board;The Galerie Sr. Etienne. Kane was one of the early 20th century self-taught artists to gain recognition in his lifetime.
taught artists Joseph Pickett, John Kane, Lawrence Lebduska, Horace Pippin and Patrick Sullivan, as well as a number of Europeans. One-person shows of Morris Hirshfield and Josephine Joy followed. The 1942 publication of They Taught Themselves, by Sidney Janis, one ofthe pioneering dealers in contemporary folk art, focused even greater attention on the work of contemporary selftaught artists. Anna Mary "Grandma" Moses was one of the thirty-one artists included. Her work, of course, created a phenomenon with ramifications that are still being felt. In the Sixties and Seventies, a group of Chicago artists known as the "Imagists" collected and showed the work of self-taught visionaries, particularly Martin Ramirez and Joseph Yoakum, much as the early modernists had done with Rousseau. Their dealer, Phyllis Kind, began to sell this work along with that of the gallery's trained artists. With Hemphill's show for the Museum of American Folk Art in 1970,
twentieth century folk art was welllaunched. More than sixty exhibitions featuring the work of contemporary self-taught artists have been organized by museums around the country in the last fifteen years; at least half have been in the past six years. Regional folk art has provoked increasing interest, as well. Through the efforts of the National Endowment for the Arts' Folk Arts Program, most states now have state folklorists whose mandate is documenting, preserving and exhibiting the work of living folk artists. A crucial development came in 1982, with the controversial exhibition "Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980r Organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the show was seen by large audiences in Los Angeles, Louisville, Birmingham, Detroit and Houston, as well as Washington, D.C. The exhibition focused overdue national attention on the work of black folk artists; it also triggered accusations of racism and artist exploitation. Additionally, the Corcoran show brought wider recognition to the field of contemporary folk art in general. The current collecting boom dates to that exhibition. Initially, collecting enthusiasm was focused almost exclusively on the work of self-taught black artists. In many cases, white folk artists who had received recognition prior to the Corcoran show were neglected by dealers and collectors, and newly discovered artists had trouble receiving recognition. More recently, aesthetic quality has emerged as the critical issue in appreciating folk art, with biography and social factors considered next. The burgeoning interest in collecting contemporary folk art has created a new marketplace. More than a score of galleries across the country, and many more private dealers, now specialize in different aspects of twentieth century folk expression. In Manhattan alone, a collector can currently buy such work in galleries on Madison Avenue, 57th
Street, in Soho, Tribeca, and the East Village. The folk art environment, too, has become a recognized, and newsworthy, phenomenon of contemporary society. According to a survey by SPACES, the California-based nonprofit organization devoted to documenting and preserving large-scale structures made by artists outside the mainstream, more than 1.5 million people have visited exhibitions ofcontemporary self-taught environmental artists. In Newark, New Jersey, and Waterbury, Connecticut, public debates currently rage over the preservation of such sites. Waterbury's Holy Land USA, is caught in a debate over the deceased artist's aesthetic intent. In Newark, the plight of Kea Tawana, and the 100-foot long Ark she built with objects salvaged from abandoned buildings in the inner city, has resulted in enormous public outcry. Kea's fight with City Hall — which wants to demolish what they call an "eyesore" — has been covered by media from National Public Radio to People Magazine, and virtually everything in between. This is the first issue of The Clarion to focus exclusively on folk art of the twentieth century. With only thirteen years until the next century begins, attention to the folk art of our time is long overdue. Yet, to some, an issue devoted to twentieth century folk art will be seen as a provocative gesture. They will claim that this work bears no relationship to the weathervanes, limner portraits and frakturs beloved as folk art. There will even be those who, harboring romantic but mistaken notions of folk artists as ignorant naives, continue to insist that no true folk art was produced after the advent of the industrial revolution. Perhaps those people are partially correct. Maybe the work discussed on the following pages is not appropriately called folk art. This is not the time or place, however, to engage in the term warfare that pits "folk" against
Soldado with American Flag; Martin Ramirez; California; Circa 1955; Mixed media on paper; 40" x 25/ 1 2"; Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. Collection ofAmerican Folk Art in the National Museum ofAmerican Art. Ramirez,a deaf-mute, produced his work while a patient in a California state hospital. While his imagery often comes from Mexican folklore, his work is highly modern in concept.
"outsider7 "isolate" against "visionary" — and besides those battles are increasingly tiresome. There can be no question that twentieth century selftaught artists are heirs to the countless eighteenth and nineteenth century carvers, painters and craftspeople — known and anonymous — whose inventiveness, creativity and disregard for academic concerns produced the body of work generally known as folk art. The twentieth century artists are motivated by the same kinds of impulses that led folk artists of the past to embellish objects made basically for use, or carve whirligigs made simply for fun. The work of most twentieth century folk artists does not look like nineteenth century folk art. That is because it was not produced in the nineteenth century. All art reflects the time in which it was made. In many works of American folk art, as in fine art, there is a distinct period quality. Folk art of the modern age, appropriately, often looks like modern art. Just as folk portraits and landscapes of the nineteenth century
often mimicked the composition and detail of nineteenth century academic art, work by contemporary self-taught artists often employs the abstraction, broad brushstrokes and collage techniques that mark much of twentieth century high art. Intuitively these selftaught artists have mastered the use of form, color, composition, and texture to create art that is fresh, original and enduring. Ironically, early American folk art was first appreciated for its remarkably modern formal qualities, yet many devotees of traditional folk art reject much of twentieth century work because of its contemporary aesthetics. No single issue of a magazine can do more than introduce a subject as broad and rich as twentieth century folk art. The articles included offer a taste of the current scholarship in the field. In the first two features, one old master and one recent discovery are profiled, revealing unexpected similarities. Michael Hall offers an intimate look at the motivations of the celebrated carver Edgar Tolson, while Shari Cavin Morris explores the powerful tree-limb "dolls" of sculptor Bessie Harvey. Andrea Badami is a painter who virtually disappeared from view for almost a decade. Chuck Rosenak offers an appreciation of his life and work. And in the final article, N.F. Karlins, who wrote her recent doctoral dissertation on the self-taught artist Justin McCarthy, argues that folk artists working in contemporary society can be distinguished by a stylistic continuity that is impervious to peer influence. She uses the example offour selftaught Pennsylvania artists to make her case. When Peggy Guggenheim opened her provocative gallery of modern art in 1942 she called it Art ofThis Century to emphasize the immediacy and urgency of the work she was showing. Twentieth century folk art is folk art of this century. It is art about today, about us. Didi Barrett is editor of The Clarion. 35
U MAKE 'IT WITHI YOUR MIND THE ART OF EDGAR TOLSON BY MICHAEL D. HALL
Edgar Tolson and his wife Hulda, June 1972, Campton, Kentucky.
All photographs were taken and supplied by Michael D. Hall, and unless otherwise noted, the sculpture is from the collection of Michael and Julie Hall.
Edgar Tolson was born in Lee City, Kentucky in 1904. He died in Campton, Kentucky on September 8, 1984. His sculpture first came to the attention of collectors and museum professionals in the late 1960s. Along with Elijah Pierce, Mario Sanchez, Martin Ramirez, Inez Nathaniel Walker, Joseph Yoakum, Miles Carpenter, and others, Tolson today is part of a pantheon of late twentieth century folk art masters who have spawned a national debate on folk art. Traditionalists, discounting the work of these artists, insist that authentic folk art passed from the American scene with the advent of industrialization and urbanization. The argument against this assertion is that the work of Tolson and others demonstrates that self-taught artists working in various styles and media still contribute vitality to American art.
Central in this debate is the question of the authenticity of the artistic vision of the contemporary folk artist. All too often, the artists themselves have not been questioned about their work and the motives and ideas which bring it into being. Edgar Tolson however, was an exception. He frequently gave interviews on both film and audio tape. The following article, based on a 1976 taped conversation with the carver, is bracketed by comments and commentary by Michael Hall, an artist with some training in folklore who knew Tolson well. In this interview, Hall attempted to probe the inner workings ofone folk sculptor's mind. This profile. published here for the first time, should both lay some old ghosts to rest and raise some new questions about contemporary folk art and artists.
My spring visit to Campton, Kentucky in 1976 had two purposes. Of course, I went expecting to spend some time with Edgar Tolson and his family, but I also wanted to try to persuade Tolson to let me formally interview him and tape record recollections of his life and work. Folk art had suddenly become a hot issue. The Whitney Museum and the Brooklyn Museum had both inaugurated the Bicentennial with folk art exhibitions. Contemporary folk art was being shown in galleries from Chicago to San Francisco. And I, as a folk art partisan, was suddenly being asked questions about Tolson and his work and needed answers that had to come from the artist himself. I hoped in this visit to gather some solid support for the assertions I had been making for the previous eight years about the cultural and artistic value of Tolson's sculpture. I found Edgar healthy. I was relieved. He had been ill during the preceding winter and when I left Detroit I was unsure about the state of his recovery. Spring, however, is generally a good season for him and this one was no exception. In spring, the winter chill and dampness leaves the mountains and Edgar gets relief from the respiratory problems that chronically plague him. He was animated,jocular and happy to see me after so many months. He had been busy carving and had new work to show. He beamed with obvious pride as I went over each of his latest pieces. His dentures, as usual, were out so when he smiled his face broke into a wreath of wrinkles. I was glad to be with my old friend and mentor again. At age 72, Edgar was in his prime as an artist. He seemed to want to talk and he rather enjoyed being the center attraction in an interview. At first, he made small talk, bragged and joked, but then he settled down to answering my questions. Tolson's art evolved from something common into something extraordinary. He had not always been the sculptor he
is today. By his own account, he always "whittled" and made things. But the vision and power in his work came late — it came with the first stirrings of his sense of himself as an artist. He grew up in an environment where whittling is a common pastime. He was raised in an Appalachian region where craft traditions are strong and where craft work, as a cottage industry, has been encouraged by government and private agencies for decades. However, by the time I met him in 1967, his carvings had transcended whittling and craft. By then, he had established himself as a folk sculptor to be reckoned with. I asked him about whittling
and carving. He replied: Well there ain't no difference in it. (Pausing) Well there are differences in it. When you're carving something you've got your mind with it. You have your whole being in it. You have to. • But just sitting there whittling on a stick, you ain't got nothin in it but just a little time. • But when you're a-doing something — it's just not just your hands aworkin'. All together, there have to be something up there [in your mind] a-workin'. • And it'll get on your nerves, boy. An' I don't mean just maybe. If something gets a little wrong — or you get rushed pretty heavy, then everything goes wrong. And that's a lot of trouble. It's like getting over a hangover — you don't want to do nothin'. One of the most prevalent romantic misconceptions about folk art is that it is produced by makers who are not selfconscious or self-critical. This assumption has caused folk artists to be branded as naive. Tolson hardly fits such a stereotype. He has always been self-critical, and less than humble, about his work. The first ones(dolls)I made were too slim — too long, and as the old saying is — too peaked out. That was my first work. I always know what's wrong. I can tell when I finish a piece what I like about it. Then I try to correct it on the next one. I can still see a lot more I can do to it... But you're never going to get on top. When you do, you can say farewell. There wouldn't be anymore you could do.
2" 1 Standing Man With Cap; 1968; Poplar; 10/ high.
I've always argued you've never got perfect... No matter what you build, nor how good it looks — there's something that you could have done a little better. 37
â€˘ God made the first Adam and Eve and I made the second. But I lack a long shot of being God. I turned the conversation to politics. A die-hard Democrat, Tolson has a quick grasp of politics and a canny understanding of the political process. He also has a sense of humor about it all. I was reminded of a story he told me once. Some years earlier, a Republican governor stumping for re-election had come to the mountains to make a campaign speech. Edgar decided to use the occasion to present the governor with one of his carved walking sticks. He went to the rally and waited until it concluded before he stepped forward to greet the governor. The candidate seized the opportunity as a great political windfall. He immediately began posing with Tolson for photographers who snapped all the right pictures. Everyone in the campaign entourage could almost envision the next day's headlines: "Governor receives support from mountain carver!' Edgar always laughs when he recounts what happened next. "Governor!' he said, "that there is a Democrat walking stick â€” and you'd better learn to walk with it!" I asked Edgar if he knew who he would be voting for in the upcoming presidential election. He did:
bottom line. Throughout the summer of 1974, he followed the Watergate hearings on television. The deceptions and breaches of public trust that the inquiries revealed prompted him to carve what must be regarded as the finest piece of his late period â€” the construction he calls "The Beheading of St. John/King Herod and the Christians:' This piece is constructed as three plateaus. In a fenced enclosure at its base, a family (father, mother and
child) cowers before three lions just released from a pit. On the second level, a seated King Herod dispassionately surveys the lions and their victims in the arena below him. The King is flanked by two guards standing at attention. On the top tier, a headsman has just decapitated a kneeling St. John while Salome and her brother look on. Tolson explains that the piece depicts the abuse of power. Herod abuses the power of his office. He turns a deaf ear
Jimmy Carter, cause he's got two chances. He's never been in Washington to learn the dirty tricks and we could get four years of good service out of him before he learns. The quip was typically Tolson. Perhaps it was typically Appalachian. From Campton, Washington, D.C. is viewed skeptically as a place filled with people who perhaps take themselves a little too seriously. Shenanigans in the capital come to Campton asjust another T.V. sitcom. The local sheriff sells beer in Wolfe County on Sunday, doesn't he? So politicians all have their hands in something. Tolson does though, have a political 38
The Beheading of St. John/King Herod and the Christians; 1976; Polychromed pine;25"x II"x 22:' The King, attended by two Prussian guardsmen, is a reference to Nixon and his aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman.
to the plight of his subjects. Salome abuses the power of her sex. She unleashes suffering through her willfulness and arrogance. As a metaphor, the piece is obvious. The Watergate hearings exposed a government abusing its power on many levels. Tolson, the artist, part cynic part sage, registered his outrage over the abuses the televised proceedings exposed. His carved and constructed narrative leaves little doubt that the Nixon White House held no esteem for him. A year and a half after its winddown, he was still blistering over Watergate. I asked him if he had anything to say to the powers in Washington and he unleashed a volley: I always wanted a chance to tell old Nixon and Ford and Kissinger what I thought of'em.
• I'd tell old Nixon that he was too low down for the dogs to bark at... You betrayed your whole family, you lied to 'em like a hound and they finally caught up with you. • And Ford is worse than you for pardoning you — he's lower down than you are, he pardoned you — when he knowed you was a criminal. And besides that — you and him had it cut and dried. • And your secretary [Kissinger] ain't nothing but Hitler Number Two; a sellin' us out to China and to the Middle East. Tolson doesn't talk readily about his art. He won't give us a verbal road map to what he is doing. Most of what I know, I have pieced together over the years from bits of conversation with
him; and from prolonged exposure to his work itself. He will, however, discuss the Biblical history that provides the thematic framework for his sculpture. For him, the two most significant events in history are the Temptation of Adam and Eve and the Crucifixion of Christ. I find it interesting that he equates the two stories; one from the Old Testament, the other from the New Testament. His work suggests otherwise. Over the years, he has produced perhaps a hundred carvings depicting the Temptation of Adam and Eve and their Expulsion from Eden. In contrast, I have only known him to carve the Crucifixion twice. I asked him about this discrepancy and he had a ready answer. He believes that the Temptation set a course for history. The Crucifixion simply reiterated and reinforced all that was set into motion at the moment of the fall. He feels Adam and Eve's loss of innocence precipitated all of the dilemmas that have shaped human experience — even the events of his own life. Edgar views the Crucifixion as a tragic mirror of the Old Testament truths. Only Christ's promise of redemption separates the two events in Tolson's mind. On the subject of redemption, he says: And at the time we come to be accountable to know good from evil... we have to come back and be washed in the blood that flowed from the cross of Calvary. To be regenerated and born again. [At that time] We don't gain a thing back — only what we lost. We get our Eden home back. And the Eden home is this world.
Expulsion;1970;Poplar, waterbirch, cedar, partially painted;24"x 23"x 11W'
In his conversation and in his work, Tolson often expresses what can best be described as alienation. If alienation is one of the hallmarks of modern art and literature, then Tolson's "primitive" art becomes very modern. The single carved doll figure is at the heart of his work. Each one stands alone, implaca39
ble and stoic, facing the travail which their maker sees as every man's lot in life. Nonetheless, there is something heroic in every figure. They do stand — and they do prevail. Forbearance is something Tolson understands. Acquiescence is foreign to his nature. Edgar's sense of isolation seems rooted in his belief that every person (since the Fall) lives with a burden of personal responsibility. The individualism this concept promotes is compatible with his political disposition. He is a very American artist. His carvings and his sense of self reflect ideals that reach back into the nineteenth century to a frontier legacy that lives on in the mountains today. I asked him for his thoughts on individual responsibility. Every man knows when he transgresses God's law. Both saint and sinner if he's capable. If he's not capable, he's not responsible. Cause you can't try a maniac by the law. All you can do is lock him up. • ...You can't try a maniac for kiln'a man 'cause he didn't know it. He couldn't punish Adam and Eve for something they didn't know. So they very well knew it. • Cain knew he was doing a murderjob there — so he went off a sinner. Tolson produced his first important sculpture in the late 1950s. The premier piece of this period is called "Man with Pony;'from 1958. The sculpture depicts a stocky black man standing beside a large spotted horse. In one hand, the man holds the horse's reigns. With his other hand, he reaches to grasp the saddle on the animal's back. He restrains and domesticates a beast. The implications of the piece are complex and wonderful. The work represents Tolson's view of the order of things in a Christian world. Man,in the image of God, has dominion over the creatures of nature. The form of the horse is horizontal. A straight line runs 40
Man With Pony;1958; Carved and painted wood;223/4"x 30/ 1 2"x
Paradise(Tableau #1 in "Fall ofMan" series);1969;pine;13"x 17/ 1 2"x 8!
from its head to its rump aligning the animal in the plane of the earth. The man is vertical. He stands erect in the world. His shirt, tie, boots and trousers are painted crisply — each element outlined in low relief and then filled in with color. The horse is painted unevenly — the spots which cover its form blur and blend together. The divinity in the man is ordered and rational. Nature (as represented by the horse) is shown as chaotic and unpredictable. The head of the man is large and well modeled. His face expresses dignity and intelligence. The head of the horse, by contrast, is simple and toy-like — its eyes stare blankly ahead. Tolson portrays man and brute, and affirms his belief that understanding transcends (and in the end, subdues) instinct: To understand is to be as God. I find it curious that "Man with Pony" is so like Marino Marini's cele-
brated bronze, "Horse and Rider" of 1950. Italian Catholic high art and Appalachian Baptist folk art, it seems, are not so distant from each other. I asked Tolson again about meaning in his work. He spoke to the question of looking at art: Just glancing on it is just like reading a story or something. You don't understand that story just looking at it and going on. • If you don't give it a thought you never know what's down under the surface — do you? Well that's just the way it's supposed to work. Now that's life! In numerous presentations, I have staunchly contended that Tolson's is a highly symbolic art. Others have disputed this alleging that the work is strictly as it seems; simple story telling depiction — valid as illustration, per-
haps, but certainly not as art. Though Edgar does have a gift for story telling, he is much more than a country yarn spinner. His epic eight part "Fall of Man" had just been shown at the Brooklyn Museum (Folk Sculpture U.S.A.) and so it seemed appropriate to ask him about the meanings he associated with this piece. He launched into a rather lengthy recounting of the events represented in the eight tableaus of the "Fall" and then concluded with the following: [The series] represents all the stories possible — all through the Bible. That's from the beginning to the end, from Genesis to Revelations. It's from the beginning of time — to the winding up of time. It's about the whole thing ...that's something to think about!
Birth of Cain (Tableau #6 in "Fall of Man" series); 1970; Poplar, partially painted;8" x 9/ 1 4"x 9W'
Cain Slaying Abel(Tableau #7 in "Fall ofMan" series); 1970; pine; 12/ 1 4"x 9/ 1 4"x 9W' 41
(Here, I interrupted him to tell him that at least this audience of one had thought about it; to tell him that I did grasp the broader historic and symbolic implications in the piece. He brushed my comment aside with a gesture of impatience and frustration. He shook his head.) No — you don't know that. It's about the whole thing. There ain't many fellers what's done that!
Curiously, in rebuking my acknowledgment, he confirmed two things. One, my contention that he is locked in a certain alienation and, more importantly, that he does see his work as symbolic and universal. He believes that the fall of man answers the "why" that might be asked about any condition in the world. In one climatic, symbolic event, mankind came to the destiny
Tolson sees as our fate. Edgar's carvings are symbolic and allegorical. In his Adam and Eve theme, he endlessly describes the fragile and imperfect condition of sentient beings caught in the turmoil of the spiritual and the physical. He metaphorically portrays himself (and all people) as existing somewhere between materiality and ideals. In his own words: They didn't even know that they was naked. They were just like a two hours old baby. They just knowed they was here. • But — after this gentlemen [the serpent] got through with 'em — they knowed to commit the crime... That's what brought Christ to the cross. It's just what she done there in the Garden. And He knew she was a-going to do it. And He told her not to.
Dolls; 1967-8; Yellow poplar, pencil marked eye details;9 to 12" high.
• You know why? So she'd be responsible for what she done. And, the serpent said, 'The Lord knows the day that you take this fruit and eat it that your eyes will be opened and you'll become as one of God's, a-knowing good from evil. And Adam said it was pleasin' to his eye and she took and eat it and gave it to Adam. And he eat it and they was drove out. Late in the afternoon, I queried Edgar on the subject of talent. His skills with a pocket knife are extraordinary. Watching him deftly cut an eye into one of his dolls, I am always amazed. His concentration and coordination allow him to carve the eye shape with no more than five or six strokes of his blade. Practice, ofcourse, is part of it but there is something more. He has a talent. He talked about it that day:
way he understands what we call the creative process. His explanation was emphatic and consumately simple:
Everybody's got talent, of some sort — but there ain't one fourth of the people uses their real talent. They try to use the other man's talent... God give every man a talent that if he would follow it, Mike, no matter what it is — he can make a success at it. • The biggest trouble of it is, there's too many people trying to do the other feller's job. It won't work. See, I tried that all along till I got sick (he suffered a stroke in 1955). Then I found my talent. I knew my talent before that but I wouldn't fool with it. I wouldn't think about it...
Before I start it, I see it. I know what it is... Anytime you do a piece of work — well — anything, it's got to be pictured in your mind before you do It.
The thing that you really desire deep down in your heart to do — that's your talent.
Finally, I asked Edgar about what might be called his vision. I sought his own description of the way he sees, the
Rock Dog; ca. 1945-8; Carved limestone; 29" x 21" x 9" including base.
This comment paraphrases something that he had told me in 1971 during one of our first conversations about his art. He had explained that his work consists of images and meanings. It grows from both belief and experience. The sculptor in him creates. His hands serve his creativity. I had scrawled down his statement five years earlier. On my return home, I retrieved it from my files. I recount it here because it bears witness to the fact that the selfconsciousness of art and art making does inform the awareness of so-called folk artists. At least this is so in the case of Edgar Tolson. His is an authentic artist's vision: A man who makes those things. If you could open up his skull to see his brain, you see the sculpture there — perfect as it's made. • I can put my knife in the wrong place and my hands will move it. It will stop. My mind will stop it. • You don't make it with your hands. Youform it with your hands. • You make it with your mind. Michael D. Hall is Resident Sculptor at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He is a longtime collector of folk and isolate art and he has written and spoken extensively on American folk art since 1970.
Noah's Ark;1969;Poplar, popsicle sticks, partially painted;19"x 30"x 13W!
NOTE The most comprehensive exhibition of Tolson's work to date was held in 1981 at the University of Kentucky Art Museum. This exhibition traveled to the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum in 1982. The illustrated catalogue, which accompanied the exhibition, Edgar Tolson: Kentucky Gothic, was published by the University of Kentucky and edited by Priscilla Colt. 43
Bessie Harvey is an extraordinary black artist who sculpts mysterious and often beautiful forms possessing great power. Working from "visions" that come to her in quiet moments,she matches what her inner eye sees with the natural shapes and contours she finds in tree limbs and roots. The sculpture gives physical form to the landscape of her visions. A transparent backdrop to the sculpture is her religious faith; what shines through this backdrop is a creative imagination that reflects a resonant psyche. Born in Dallas, Georgia, in 1928, Bessie Harvey was the seventh of thirteen children. She married at the age of 14 and had eleven children. Harvey has remarked that next to her struggle to provide for the necessities of her family, the story in The Color Purple' seems like a fairy tale. "I really didn't become truly human until my youngest was half-grown:'she said."I was a little better than an animal trying to scrape together food and shelter for them. Later, that's when I began to develop my mind and question the spiritual nature of my life:' It is partially in response to the pressures of providing for her family that Bessie Harvey turned to making her "dolls:' In the evening after the family had gone to bed she would sit quietly meditating and praying. In these quiet moments faces would appear to her, and the face that would not go away was the one Bessie Harvey had to create. I see this vision of one of these dolls
BY SHARI CAVIN MORRIS
The most important fact that you can tell people about me is that what you call my art comes to me through the grace of God.
Harvey courtesy of Ben Apfelbaum. al
or somethin', and can't sleep. I even have to get up and draw it out the best I can on a piece of paper or get up and take a piece of wood and dolt before I can even go to sleep. It's somethin' like a torment. It's not a torment really, but it's something like torment. It bothers me. I can close my eyes and I'll see a spot and then I see this openin', and then there it is, and then I can't go to sleep because itjust stays there, it just stays there 'til I get up and put it out on somethin'. And I think that's the way it is, the way it
13ESSIE HARVEY: THE SPIRIT IN THE WOOD
Untitled; 1986;Polychromed wood, beads, hair; 13" x T'x 10"; Collection of Ethan Wagner and Sherry Remez Wagner.
Front and back view of the same piece: Untitled, 1986;Polychromed wood, mixed media; 19" x II" x 7'; Courtesy ofCavin-Morris, Inc.
Photographs or sculpture courtesy Ellen Page Wilson, New York. f4,v44:0.410
has to be, the world has to see it.. .I have to get up and get it out. Harvey's inspiration comes from both the "vision" and from the wood she finds in the Tennessee hills close to the small, but comfortable home she shares with one of her grandsons. Within the wood itself are faces, shapes and forms. She pulls out what is already there after a good amount of contemplation and meditation. She views the resulting sculpture as a collaboration with God and Nature. You can go to the wood pile and all at once you see a face, in any piece of wood and, it looks like it's just askin' for help, help to come out, ya know. There's something in there, we just know God creates the roots and
stumps and shapes them by the insects, a lot of them, designin' my pieces. Take Horace. Well, when I first found him he was a big limb but I know he was a beautiful man,I knew that when!pulled him out...I said to him "Ain't you pretty!' He said "Granny, I ain't nobody!' But I saw him and Ijust couldn't wait to get him home to get started bringing him out; what I saw was beautiful. The only exception to Harvey's inspired vision and the eidetic followthrough is a series she is currently working on called "Africans in America:' She is concerned that black people today, struggling to survive in an unsympathetic social structure, might forget the important contributions their ancestors made to the building of Amer-
â€˘ ica. This group of pieces-in-progress provides a visual record of black involvement. They also represent a visual recollection of Harvey's own rural upbringing. Thus far the group is made up of a woman milking a cow, a banjo player, a farmer plowing a field, a man tending a garden, a woman washing clothing by hand and a couple dancing. Still evolving are workers picking cotton and a black congregation praying. For these pieces the idea came first, then Harvey sought out the wood to suit her purposes. For the sculpture of the man playing the banjo Harvey found wood for the banjo and body of the man which she made more realistic by adding wood putty, beads for teeth, paint and a lock or two of her own hair. 45
Untitled; 1986;Polychromed wood, mixed media;30" x 15" x 16"; Courtesy of Cavin-Morris, Inc.
Untitled; /985; Vines, wood, mixed media;32"x 16" x 10"; Collection of Ethan Wagner and Sherry Remez Wagner.
Bessie Harvey sculptures do not particularly resemble known work by other self-taught twentieth century artists. Although at first glance, similarities may seem to exist, Harvey's approach to the wood is uniquely her own. Like Miles Carpenter, Bessie Harvey sees the shapes inherent in the wood, but Carpenter works reductively; his forms become less about the wood than about what he imposes on that first recognition of form within the wood. Bessie Harvey's process is more accretive, adding other pieces of found wood, wood putty, beads, house paint, glitter and bits of her own hair. Like Jesse Aaron, she sees multiple faces in a single sculpture, but she does not work within the cylindrical constraints of a 46
log. Finally, although her work is often sexually explicit, like Steve Ashby's, the raunchiness usually present in Ashby's work is not suggested by Bessie Harvey's well-endowed men and women. Her point is neverjust to depict sex. She shows nudity for example in her double-sided Adam and Eve, to point out man's fall and subsequent moral shame. The two greatest factors that Bessie Harvey brings to her work are her profound, if unconventional, religious faith and a fierce intelligence that questions and often unorthodoxly answers her ponderings on religion and racism.
just about everything I touch is Africa [her African heritage]. I think I'm of old African descent...I believe that when old people go on, back to where they come from for good,I think that their spirit and soul moves into a newborn baby, and I think that's the way we all come and go. I think that maybe a great great grandmother, aunt, or maybe somebody who's not even a relative of mine spirit was sittin' around, and then when mama had me, my body just received that soul and spirit, and way back then there was really a lot of African spirit here that wasn't mixed ...I must claim some of that spirit and soul.
When I was a child I had these strange things I'd see and feel and now I'm puttin' them in wood ...and
Bessie Harvey recognizes the authority of the Bible while frequently choos-
Cat; 1987; Polychromed wood, mixed media; 15" x 13" x 5/ 3 4"; Courtesy ofCavin-Morris, Inc.
Al Khabir/Ar Ragib/AI Wabub; 1983; Polychromed wood, mixed media;25" x 12/ 1 2"x 4"; Courtesy of Cavin-Morris, Inc.
ing another meaning to the text, often placing herself in direct philosophical contradiction with her preacher and fellow parishioners. She has studied rote religious teachings and infused them with greater strength by sidestepping dogma and daring to reexplore old terrain with fresh eyes. Her sculptures are a direct product of that exploration. They are her accessway to revelation. The family that her "dolls" comprise are from what Harvey views as "Old Africa:' not the geographical continent but an Eden where at one time all black people lived as one community in majesty and harmony. Bessie Harvey feels the behavior of each black individual is felt by the international community of all black people. The dolls manifest her belief in the spiritual strength of her people while reflecting her sentiment that they are, also, a fallen race â€” subjected to enslavement and racism they lost their rank as God's preeminent people. The link is complete in her mind between her dolls, Old Africa and trees as source material and symbol: ... trees is soul people to me, maybe not to other people, but I have watched the trees when they pray and I've watched them shout and sometimes they give thanks slowly and quietly, they praise god in this beautiful light the flowers do too, all these things do, everything but Man. The spiritual significance Bessie Harvey gives to trees is one of her more overt links to her Afro-American heritage. The belief that trees possess a spiritual life, as documented by Robert Farris Thompson can be traced to Kongo cemeteries where "...elders plant trees on graves explaining: 'This tree is a sign of spirit, on its way to the other world'... and in Southern Haiti 'Trees live after us, death is not the end:"2 The practice of placing trees on graves is prevalent throughout the Southern United States as well. Bessie Harvey's sculpture is always black â€” her visions are only of "olive 47
brown or darker" faces. Features are enlarged, abstracted or enhanced in some manner so that almost no form is realistically depicted. As complex as her most complicated pieces can be â€” entire families can populate a piece with each being represented by a different color and shape â€” they are only as complex as the vision or idea behind them demands. If, for example, one marble eye is as riveting as two, then only one is used. Similar to the complex dolls, the simpler dolls also have a double, or visible conscience. The simpler dolls appear on the verge of becoming something else. The more complex pieces seem already to have undergone transformation. To walk into a room of Bessie Harvey's sculpture is like walking into a forest of exotic birds and interrupting their song; the silence anticipates the departure of the intruder. Each piece is stamped with the dual mark of nature and of Harvey's imagination. To Harvey, the "dolls" represent the mythological people of the past. Through her manipulation of volume, color and mass, she unites them as a "tribe!' Explaining that her dolls manifest the souls of"ancient Africans" she says of those old spirits, they .were nothing like the people of today. And I don't imagine if the world stands any more years, they won't be like us, there'll be changes, its already changing, the mixture of children. I always say they always change, and it's not going to be the same any more. It wasn't the same when we left them and come to us to become what we are; it really wasn't the next generation, they're not going to be like us. Some find the otherworldliness of Bessie Harvey's pieces to be frightening; others suggest relationships to "voodoo" or "hoodoo:' Anyone who places a Harvey sculpture in their proximity must admit to its presence. Anyone observing them for the first time is struck by their uniqueness. Harvey has been adamant but philosophical when 48
Untitled;1987;Polychromed wood, mixed media; 15" x 200" x 11"; Courtesy ofCavin-Morris, Inc.
Photo: Janna W. Josephson
The Healing; 1986-7; Enamel on
wood, mixed media; 29" x 10" x 18"; Courtesy of Cavin-Morris, Inc.
Untitled,from "Africans in America" series; 1986; Wood, mixed media;10/ 1 2"x 7/ 1 2"x 6"; Courtesy of Cavin-Morris, Inc.
asked about any "special powers" her sculpture might have. To me Voodoo is just like Methodist and Baptist.' Voodoo is a religion and it's not evil...If the voodoo people had a religious ceremony and decided they should do something to a person, well, I think they're much more calm and righteous than the one who will take a gun without a thought and blow another's head off...1 think if there's any power in the dolls you have to be a righteous person...I love righteous people. I like most of all people being in love with each other. I love that kind of thing. I'm sure if anything goes out of me into the doll, that's what it is...I've never been an evil person. I think whatever it is (the 'power') it's from God
himself. I think there's a story in it. I think it's one story. If you try and stick pins in my dolls the pins will bend all to pieces.
To be "visionary" is to possess insight into the nature ofthings. Throughout the progress of her physical and spiritual life, Bessie Harvey has questioned, considered and eventually discovered many answers to the mysteries of her life. The physical record of her progress is in her sculpture; the transcendental record is in the power the pieces contain. Her art is profoundly spiritual without being conventionally religious, it has the capacity to make itself understood without appropriating common images â€” it is a visual celebration of the epiphany of spirit.
Shari Cavin Morris is a dancer and co-director of Cavin-Morris, Inc. NOTES: I. Alice Walker, The Color Purple (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Joranovich, 1982), chronicles the growth of an uneducated and exploited black woman from despair fed by ignorance and racism to realization of her full potential. 2. Robert Farris Thompson, The Flush of the Spirit (New York: Random House, 1986), pps. 138-139. 3. Vodun, or "voodoo" as it is commonly called, the syncretic religion of most Haitians,combines Catholicism and Dahomey based religious practices. It centers around the belief in spirits or"loa" which have power over life forces including rain, plant growth, love, creativity and death. "Voodoo" as portrayed by Hollywood has nothing to do with the workings of the religion. All quotes by Bessie Harvey are from interviews conducted with the artist by Judy Higdon or by the author. Sin i Von Reis generously supplied the transcription.
G71 Andrea Badami's roots are similar to millions of other first generation Americans. His father Jack immigrated from Sicily, Italy, to make his fortune in America, and wound up picking Louisiana sugarcane. In New Orleans, Jack married and restlessly made his way north, laying railroad ties for sixteen years. Along the way, Andrea Badami was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 27, 1913. Andrea never really had a chance to pick up much of his native language, or even establish relationships with the other kids on the block. "I remember, when I was five, I wasn't even going to kindergarten. My daddy said,'Momma owns a little bit of property in Corleone, Sicily — three houses. I'd better go over there and take care ofthem. If I wait, like my brother, for my kids to grow up and get married, I'll never go back to the old country:" So the Badami family packed up, and Andrea made his first of many ocean crossings. Things weren't so great in
Corleone, either. There was little money and almost no opportunity to educate the children. Andrea recalls "maybe five years offormal schooling:' By the age of fifteen, Andrea was working long hours on a small farm, and Jack Badami decided to send his son back to Omaha to live with an uncle. "I worked when I returned to Omaha:' Andrea said. "I worked hard. But it was 1929, and I could only make about seven and a half a week. I tell the truth; picking sweet peppers, pulling radishes, and loading Charlie Sissman's truck:' Young Badami,like his father before him, soon became disillusioned with America. One day in 1931, he announced to his uncle in desperation,"I go back there — there's nothing to make money here. At least in Corleone, I can sleep under the olive trees:' He returned to Italy, and his life was much as before, until 1939, a year which brought personal change, as well
as international upheaval. In January of 1939, Andrea married Lena,a beautiful girl from Corleone; in November their first child, Gina, was born, and in June of 1940 he was drafted into the Italian army. "I was back in Sicily — in my twenties;' Badami recalls, "and Mussolini he start trouble — join with the Germans and give me a letter to go into the army:' Andrea took his letter to the American Counsel in Palermo, who according to Badami,looked the thin, tight-lipped kid from Omaha up and down, made a cross on a form, and said, "You gotta go. That's the law, but sign here and you don't lose no American rights:' "Yeah that's right — I hadda go to North Africa as a regular soldier in the Italian Army!" Badami's heart was not in waging war against the British, so he wasn't terribly disappointed when captured at Tobruk. The unlikely Italian prisonerof-war was shipped first to India and later to the north of England where he
ANDREA BADAV 1 BY CHUCK ROSENAK
In 1948, Lena and Gina were able to obtain visas and join Andrea. The couple bought a ranch-style home in suburban Omaha with a vegetable garden and a backyard large enough for children to romp."I didn't have to work no more for others â€” I had my own garden:' The promise of America was finally beginning to unfold. The Badamis added three children to the family, Mary Lou, and twin boys Angelo and Jack. However, early in 1960, life took an unforeseen turn. Andrea walked past an art gallery:"Bunch ofjunk!" he said to himself,"I can do better:' When Lena returned home that evening, her dining room wall was ablaze with a landscape. She cried in alarm:"Don't spill paint on the rug!" But nothing, not even Lena, could stop the creative urge. "Next week my draperies went:' Lena said. To save the rest of the house,she turned the utility room and garage over to Andrea and insisted that he purchase his materials from now on.
The paintings began to tell the pentup stories of those difficult early years. They communicated a religious and social philosophy that Andrea, because of his limited use of language, was unable to put into words. This new form of expression became a necessary part of existence for Badami. One day in 1963, Andrea Badami carried some of his canvases into the Joselyn Museum in Omaha and met Tom Bartek. Mr. Bartek, a well-known painter, was Exhibition Manager at the Joselyn. He recognized Badami's talent immediately. Not only was Tom taken with the work, but he was the first person Andrea ever met who was patient enough to listen to the stories and legends that went with the paintings. "They were amazing:' Tom related, "funny and at the same time brilliant. The paintings held up on their own, even if you couldn't immediately grasp the artist's specific intent. They contained pop images, during the time of Pop Art,and Badami had no knowledge
waited out the Allied victory in prison. "What the heck:' said Badami. "I didn't have nothing much to do for nearly seven years. That was okay with me:' For those years he spent his time daydreaming, idling out the war, doing a little translating, and "having a good time!' Finally, in 1946, after Germany's unconditional surrender, Andrea Badami was mustered out of the Italian Army with a small amount of back pay. "I was mad!" he said."I went right to the American Counsel in Palermo. He say to me, 'Hey, Mr. Badami you signed the form â€” see, right here. You want to go to the United States? You got three days, because that's when the ship leave: Okay, I say, I go!" Andrea Badami took that ship, but he had to leave his Italian wife, Lena, and daughter behind. He had no trouble finding work in 1946. He labored in a defense plant, and when laid off, he found employment, in September of 1948, with the Union Pacific Railroad's Omaha repair shop.
Farmer's Daughter Surprised hy Soap Salesman; Circa 1966; Oil on canvas: 27" x 29"; Collection ofRev. L. E. Lubbers.
at all of what was going on in New York. I put them on display in the rental/sales gallery at the Joselyn. But sales were few:" In 1966, Creighton University, in Omaha, inaugurated its first real art department, with a brand new gallery and exhibition space. Tom Bartek was on the faculty, and Creighton's premier exhibition was a one-man show of the work of Andrea Badami. "Some loved him;' Tom related,"but the work was not what the town was looking for. His family didn't know what to make of it either. Lena came into the gallery one day and was mortified by the painting of the Madonna nursing the infant Jesus. The next day Andrea appeared with some pink cloth and buttoned a removable bra onto the Madonna. I wish I knew where that painting is today:' Badami was not discouraged by lack ofcritical acclaim, according to Bartek. He'd bring new paintings to discuss into the Art Department along with
fresh vegetables from his garden. "His concerns were the same as those of any other professional. Badami wanted desperately to produce a masterpiece and felt always that his work fell short:' Andrea stored his paintings in the Art Department at Creighton University for several years. Tragically, however, when they were returned to the artist he burned them. "I was horrified;' Tom Bartek exclaimed."Forty or fifty of his largest and finest canvases destroyed. I could never find out why:' Badami continued painting though, and in 1970, Torn arranged to have Badami included in a traveling exhibition sponsored by the American Federation of Arts Three years later, Badami had a one-man show of some thirty works at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. In addition, two large illustrations of his paintings were featured in the seminal 1974 book Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists, by Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., and Julia Weissman. After that,
Badami pretty much disappeared from view, until, more than a decade later, he was included in the exhibition "A Time to Rear' Andrea Badami's paintings have great strength; they express with humor the inner visions of a man seeking the key to an elusive dream. After all the years of hard work, Badami is now slowly gaining broad public acceptance. His work is being included in public collections such as the Museum of American Folk Art, and, most recently, by way of the Herbert Hemphill accession, into the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American Art. Badami's work is finding its place, as well, among a larger body of work by other self-taught artists which represents a more contemporary aesthetic than is traditionally associated with folk art. "Someone seeing Andrea Badami's figurative paintings for the first time would probably be hardpressed to identify the artist as trained
Photos: Robert Reek Photography
Boy and Balloon; Circa 1972; Oil on heavy canvas;29"x
The Boss and His Wife ;Circa 1970; Oil on heavy canvas;28"x 30'.'
Unless otherwise noted, the pieces pictured are from the collection of Chuck and Jan Rosenak.
because they are self-taught or because they have colorful biographies:' On October 27, 1978, Andrea Badami was awarded his Golden Spike from the Union Pacific Railroad for thirty years of loyal service. With his railroad retirement, the Badamis were able to buy a modern ranch house in suburban Tucson, Arizona, where three of their four children had moved. "What the heck:' said Badami, "the vegetables don't grow so good, but there is no snow to shovel, and we got the air-condition:' Badami now has undivided time to devote to his painting. He turned the covered patio of their new house into a studio."So long as he don't spill on the rug, he can paint where he like;' Lena confirmed. The American dream of the Italian immigrant is within his grasp. At work, recently, on a large canvas called "The Ascent of Harry Truman to Heaven;' Badami explained: "Christ has just discovered that it is written in the book on the table in front of St.
Peter that Harry was responsible for dropping the bomb on Japan. But St. Peter is in charge of the keys to Heaven and Hell. So, never mind. Harry slips St. Peter a tenspot. Which key do you think Harry gets?" Andrea Badami, too, has finally found the right key, and his art, and the stories that go with them, are being rediscovered. Chuck Rosenak is a photographer, writer and longtime collector of folk art. He is currently organizing an exhibition of Navajo folk art called "Folk Art of the People" which will open September 5,1987 at the Arts and Crafts Alliance in St. Louis. NOTES 1. All quotations from Badami were obtained during a taped interview with Chuck and Jan Rosenak on May 8, 1986. 2. All quotations from Tom Bartek were obtained from a telephone interview with Chuck Rosenak on May 27, 1986. 3. Gregg N. Blasdel, Symbols and Images: Contemporary Primitive Artists, American Federation of Arts, 1970. 4. Barbara Wahl Kaufman, Didi Barrett, A Time To Reap, Seton Hall University, The Museum of American Folk Art, 1985.
Photo: Courtesy of Chuck Rosenak
or untrained:' explained Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the National Museum of American Art. "Our eyes have been so conditioned by modern expressionist paintings and by today's young painters in New York's East Village, as well as France, Italy and Germany, that we are highly receptive to the license of Badami's figurative style. "Some may even validate his paintings because they resemble works by more sophisticated artists â€” somehow that resemblance becomes a barometer of art's universality. Others may dismiss Badami's work because they find that similarity diminishes the special energy, and circumstances, that not only are associated with folk art, but which often are used to separate folk art from fine art:' Hartigan warns, however, against the tendency to put greater value on the circumstances of an artist's life than on the quality of his or her work. "Artists are not exciting, or different, simply
Badami painting The Ascent of Harry Truman to Heaven; /9N5, Oil on canvas;45"x
Pennsylvania has been the home of folk artists since the seventeenth century! The Pennsylvania "Dutch" or German artists were especially prolific, producing fraktur, redware, and painted furniture from the 1680s well into the twentieth century. Some of these traditions continue to this day. One region, the rocky hills to the northwest of Bethlehem, is noted more for its coal output than its artistic production. That may change, however, with the burgeoning interest in contemporary folk art. Four twentieth century folk painters have made this section of Pennsylvania their home: Jack Savitsky, Justin McCarthy, "Old Ironsides" Pry, and Charlie Dieter all lived in or around Carbon County, Pennsylvania for most of their adult lives. In an effort to illustrate what makes twentieth century folk artists distinctive, this paper will focus on the interrelationships between these four artists. They are similar to their eighteenth and nineteenth century predecessors in that each member of the quartet is a self-taught, non-academic artist. What makes them different from their forerunners is the lack of effect interaction with other artists has had on their work. In the eighteenth century, artists actively sought and received instruction from other self-taught artists when possible. John Brewster, Jr. studied with the painter, Reverend Joseph Steward, and became a successful portraitist himself. In the early 1840s, Sturtevant J. Hamblin, a house and sign painter trained by his father, improved his skills by joining his brother-in-law, William Matthew Prior, in setting up a painting establishment in Boston. Together they created a school of painters capable of rapidly turning out likenesses for small sums of money, adjusting the cost according to the finish and size of the painting. Erastus Salisbury Field developed his own portrait style after a brief apprenticeship with the academic painter, Samuel E B. Morse. After Morse introduced the daguerreotype 54
FOUR FROM COAL COUNTRY
FRIENDSHIPS AND THE CONTEMPORARY FOLK ARTIST
BY N.F. KARLINS JUSTIN McCARTHY
into this country from France, Field's income, like that of many other folk painters, began to decline. It is likely that Field returned to his former teacher Morse to learn the new technology, only to have this new knowledge ad-
versely affect his portrait painting style Other eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury folk artists were isolated geographically and culturally and had no one to help or hinder them in develop-
"OLD IRONSIDES" PRY
ing their style. Whether these artists were limited in technique because of lack of skill, stimulating patronage, or instruction, or some combination of these, we can never be sure. Winthrop Chandler's fifty extant portraits do not
show a great deal of development, for example. We know that the subjects of his paintings lived clustered around his hometown of Woodstock, Connecticut, suggesting that he never ventured far from home. We can only assume that he saw little else in the way of art to inspire him. Similarly, the vibrant watercolors of Mary Ann Willson, seem all to have been executed in rural Greene County in New York. Most of them appear to have been based on prints, and all are painted in much the same style, perhaps because of her social isolation Savitsky, McCarthy, Pry, and Dieter were not, of course, geographically isolated; nor were they without information about general cultural trends. Television and the mass media made them residents of Marshall McLuhan's "global village;' like the rest of us. Although some have termed twentiethcentury naives "outsiders:' because they have created art in unique styles far removed from the artistic mainstream, it would be incorrect to assume that contemporary folk artists are culturally unaware. In fact, the term "outsiders" seems more appropriate to refer to the psychological estrangement maintained by these artists rather than to any kind of social isolation. Instead of leading to a sharing of ideas, the interactions of these four contemporary folk painters â€” each with his own highly idiosyncratic art â€” resulted in no apparent changes in style or technique. By documenting the meetings of these artists and examining the lack of effect on their work, I will give evidence of the psychological distance and stylistic continuity that each of these artists maintained. Jack Savitsky, the only one of the foursome still at work was born in 1910 in Silver Creek, Pennsylvania, now New Philadelphia, in Schuylkill County, but spent most of his life in his current hometown of Lansford, in adjacent Carbon County. Like many contemporary naives, he did not always aim to be an artist and began to work
regularly only late in life. He enjoyed playing with paints as a child, but did not use them again until he was a young man and then only sporadically. When only fifteen years old, he began to break coal; at twenty-one, he married and went into the mines to work. After working six days in the mines, he sometimes supplemented his income by painting barroom murals:' By age fifty, harsh working and living conditions left him with black lung and other ailments. When the mines closed, he was left jobless. Unable to find other work, but he survived on his disability payments and his wife's paychecks. It was then that Savitsky turned to painting. He and his wife sold his oils and drawings at local art fairs for a few dollars each, until folk art collector and curator, Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., used Savitsky's Train in Coal Town (1970)on the cover of the ground-breaking book, Twentieth-Century Folk Art and Artists. Museum shows led to sales which provided a new livelihood for him thereafter. Most of Savitsky's early works, and many later ones, as well, illustrate coal miners at work or home. The grim realities of mining are transfigured into upbeat statements about hard work, fellowship, and faith. Many of his compositions consist of images in profile. They have the simplicity of form, and the monumental and timeless quality of Egyptian tomb paintings. Others use shallow diagonals and receding planes parallel to the picture plane to suggest space. Flat repeating forms are sometimes used as a decorative border, as in his Train in Coal Town. Savitsky carefully outlines each shape before filling them in with color, often enlivening them with patterns. Static forms are played off active repetitive patterns. Bold mixtures of bright primary and secondary colors, along with black and gray, compose his usual palette whether he is working in oil, acrylic (which he now favors over oil), crayon, watercolor, pencil, pen and ink, or some combination of media. 55
Savitsky's work exhibited these same characteristics before and after his meeting with fellow folk painter Justin McCarthy at the 1960 Annual Outdoor Art Fair in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Even today, his work looks much the same. During the years following their initial encounter, McCarthy who lived in nearby Weatherly, and supported himself by huckstering fruit, vegetables, and mail-order liniment, would drop in at the Savitskys when on his selling rounds. The two painters became friends, and McCarthy, who often brought produce as a gift, was invited to stay to dinner. Inevitably, many of their conversations were about art. Some time between the late 1960s and early 1970s, the two exchanged paintings, a common practice among artists. Though McCarthy's gift, one of
several versions of Washington Crossing the Delaware, still hangs in the Savitsky dining room, the latter immediately offered to "improve" McCarthy's painting by adding eyes and other touches. In the end he did alter it somewhat! What McCarthy, a mildmannered person, thought about this is unknown, but he did not change his style to accommodate Savitsky's taste. Despite a friendship that went on for years, Savitsky kept working with flat patterns and nearly invisible brushwork, while McCarthy continued his bravura performances, resulting in oil paintings filled with dramatic brushwork and intense colors. This is not to say that McCarthy's style never changed at all. Over time it evolved more than Savitsky's did, and became looser, at least in part because
of failing eyesight'In McCarthy's early drawings, which used delicate pastel washes of watercolor, his line was usually nervous and edgy. He continued to make drawings throughout his life, but they became more dynamic and were executed in hues of greater intensity after he began using oil paints. McCarthy produced oils sporadically from the 1930s, but it became his principal medium in the late 1950s and 1960s. McCarthy switched to acrylics in the early 1970s, when turpentine fumes began to bother him? It is interesting to note that he effected the transition to acrylics without modifying his style. While his working method evolved, it did not abruptly change, either at the time he met Savitsky or afterward. McCarthy's subject matter was extra-
DOROTHY AND STERLING STRAUSER: FRIENDS OF FOLK ART Dorothy and Sterling Strauser are artists whose quiet interest and involvement in twentieth century folk art have been of considerable significance. Friends, admirers, collectors, nurturers and promoters for a great number of artists during the past half century, they might well be credited with launching the painting careers of artists Jack Savitsky, Justin McCarthy, "Old Ironsides" Pry, and Charlie Dieter. The Strausers first met in art education classes at Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) Normal School. Their teacher was George Keller, who,as Sterling tells it, "left teaching and became a full-time lion tamer:' Keller left a legacy, however, through the class text, Composition, by Arthur Wesley Dow,a respected art theoretician. "It didn't say a thing about folk art, but it taught us something about the value of uninhibited perception. IfI'd had a little more of it, I'd have got into folk art sooner:' Strauser explains. It's hard to imagine how much sooner, since by 1928, shortly after the young newlyweds "went to housekeeping;' the Strausers were collecting nineteenth century folk art paintings. In 1935,they traveled to Scranton to view the Everhart Museum's John Law Robertson American Folk Art Collection. "The scales were removed from my eyes about folk art' Strauser notes,"...all my life I had been struggling to find some way to defend the role ofthe self-taught artists because I realized that academically-trained... artists regarded self-taught artists the way ... a trained doctor regards faith healers; they felt we had no right to be into the act:' By 1935, Strauser's own work was being shown at Zabriskie
Gallery in New York City. His eye was caught, however, by a tabloid photo of a painter in the city who used a chair as easel, a dinner plate as palette, and produced fascinating jungle scenes. Strauser wrote to the artist, inquiring into possible purchases. By return mail he received a selection of paintings, each valued at $5.00 by their creator, Victor Joseph Gatto. A correspondence continued. Later that year, one night while Sterling was firing the furnace in the cellar, he heard Dot answer a knock at the door. "I heard a man's voice say Is this where Stanley Struss lives?' I knew it had to be Gatto, because that's the way he addressed all our mail!" The friendship began in earnest that night, when Gatto"came to dinner" and stayed. His influence on the Strausers was major. He "taught us that naive, primitive art can be profound. He opened my eyes and made me see that none of the rules in the books...could cover him. He busted all the rules. But he had this 'uninhibited perception: and he had this drive, this compulsion. He had twice as much energy as an average man. I don't think I'd have been ready for Justin without Gatto, and [without] learning from him that twentieth century primitive/folk/naive art has validity ... ," Strauser says. The Strausers' relationship with McCarthy began in 1960, when "Dot discovered him" at a county fair. The following year, at the same event, they acquired their first paintings by him. Justin McCarthy needed money to repair his painted and decorated car, and Sterling, at the fair to sell the Strausers' own works, happened
Photo: Courtesy of the Smithsoni
1 4x 48;Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. Collection Train in Coaltown;Jack Savitsky;Pennsylvania;1968;Acrylic on masonite;31/ ofAmerican Folk Art in the National Museum ofAmerican Art.
to have the required amount in his pocket."When I got them home and saw them in the house it was a revelation;' Sterling recalls. "Out there in the open, lying on the green with the dappled sunlight, it was kind of hard. Dot said that when she first saw them she thought, 'If I saw these in a museum I'd have thought they were great!'...It was the first time I'd gone into debt to buy art.. Justin McCarthy, says Strauser, was a "very naive person. This was kind of hard to believe, because occasionally his painting would resemble a very sophisticated man's work, like it might ...or Nolde. But he wasn't aware of Avery's work resemble Avery. or Nolde's work, he wasn't trying to paint that way. He painted the way he did because he couldn't paint any other way. McCarthy painted for forty years with no success at all, but he had the compulsion to keep on turning them out, piling them up in the old mansion ... He was a great guy to know:' The Strausers remained friends and colleagues, as well as sources of advice and support — emotionally and financially — for the remainder of McCarthy's life. To this day, Dot and Sterling continue to be zealous promoters of McCarthy and his work. The Strausers are close, as well, to McCarthy's friend Jack Savitsky, with whom they have been involved since the early Sixties. Savitsky still drives down, periodically, from the nearby hills to swap stories and paintings with Sterling and Dot. Strauser touted Savitsky — as he had McCarthy and Gatto — throughout his wide network of art world acquaintances(among his personal pals were David Burliuk and Vestie Davis). And he carried their works
to New York seeking interested galleries. At last, Virginia Zabriskie included a work by each artist in a show which proved to be the turning point in their careers. It was at that show that Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., saw them for the first time, and placed their stars in the folk art firmament. The Strausers were well-known locally for their role in McCarthy's career and as a result many artists were brought to their attention. A man who worked in the Carbon County Home brought them some painted cardboard from the walls of a soon-tobe-demolished building and the Strausers became the force behind the career of"Old Ironsides" Pry. "It was like a dream sequence;' Sterling recalls, "Here's a guy who had a trunkful of marvelous primitive paintings so different from anything I'd ever seen:' More recently, Sterling was at the County Fair with Pry when"a `dutchy' guy comes up to us quietly and meekly and says 'I draw, too. Do you want to see mine?" Soon after Charlie Dieter's stylized drawings became part of the Strausers' on-going, lively and unique collection of work by trained and self-taught artists. Joe Gatto used to have a saying, Sterling explains. — Dat's destiny! Dat's destiny!" he would say. "And it just seems like in this collecting stuff, there's a certain amount of destiny... and it was our destiny....I don't know how anybody can be bored with this sort of thing going on in the world within your reach!" Ben Apfelbaum Ben Apfelbaum is a doctoral student in Folk Art Studies at New York University.
ordinarily diverse, although he showed a preference for fashion models, society ladies, movie stars, sports heroes, and other newsmakers. He copied many of his compositions from newspapers and magazines. Many of his sports stars were first sketched while he watched television! McCarthy was born in HazeIton, Pennsylvania, in 1891 and raised in nearby Weatherly. The son of an affluent newspaper man and speculator, his parents took him to Europe in 1907 after the death of his only brother. He saw art in the museums of Paris and London but did no painting himself until years later. His father's death, probably a suicide, stripped the family of money. His mother worked to put him through law school, but he failed his courses and suffered a nervous breakdown. During his five-year recuperation at a state mental hospital, he was encouraged to draw by his mother. Within a year or two, childlike crayon drawings began to develop into the basic style he used over the next fifty years? Returning to his boyhood home, where he stayed until his death, McCarthy painted and cultivated vegetables. After his mother's death in 1940, he allowed his house to decay, filling the rooms with his unsold paintings. He eventually lived in two small rooms with a kerosene stove for heat and a cot for a bed. Discovered by two artists, Dorothy and Sterling Strauser of East Stroudsburg (see box), who championed his work and submitted it to many art shows, he began to attract local attention. In 1966 he was included in a traveling show organized by the Museum of Modern Art, entitled Seventeen Naive Painters. None of these events altered McCarthy's commitment to his art, and his lifestyle changed as little as his painting style. He remained friendly with the Savitskys and was the subject of several works by Jack Savitsky both before and after his death in 1977!° McCarthy, like other contemporary 58
William Powell as "The Thin Man"; Justin McCarthy; Pennsylvania; Watercolor and ink on paper;13/8"x 8";Courtesy ofCavin-Morris, Inc.
JOAN FON TAME ARTURO DE
Frenchman's Creek;Justin McCarthy;Pennsylvania; Watercolor and ink on paper;IPA"x 11/ 1 4"; Courtesy ofCavin-Morris, Inc.
naives, turned to art after experiencing a psychologically traumatic situation. The loss of a spouse or job often inspires naives to begin work. Nellie Mae Rowe became active after the death of her husband. Morris Hirshfield, Harry Lieberman, and
Gustav Klumpp all began to paint after they retired. Some of the best work by naives has been done within institutional confinement. Martin Ramirez was in a mental hospital, as was Eddie Arning. Similarly, much important European work has been produced by mental patients. The Prinzhorn Collection and works from the Gugging Pavilion at the Klosterneuberg Hospital in Austria provide many examples. The Carbon County Home provided the working environment for both Lamont "Old Ironsides" Pry and Charlie Dieter. Lamont Pry was born on February 12,1921,in Mauch Chunk, now Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. He joined the U. S. Army Air Corps, satisfying his love of country and love of airplanes at the same time. He also took small plane flying lessons. After the Army, he entered the civil service and served as an orderly in several hospitals!' Shortly after his second wife died, he suffered a heart attack and returned home to care for his ailing mother until her death. He adjusted poorly to living alone, however, and at the age of47 he entered the Carbon County Home. Pry had dabbled in art before entering the home. He fashioned birds, birdhouses, and a circus wagon out of wood and paint. Once at the home, he discovered cardboard and house paint in a garage and began to paint. At the end of the day, after doing his chores, he'd sit on the outside steps and work, without institutional prodding. Airplanes, circuses, flowers, birds, cowboys, Indians, and farm scenes are his most common subjects. Images from magazines, television or remembrances of places that he visited have served as compositions. His most successful works are his earliest, in which amoeboid clouds of color undulate across the surface, breaking up the space and creating ambiguous figure/ ground relationships as backdrops for simple flattened forms. Lively patterns of dots, commas, and dashes — as well as inscriptions — are common. Usually
Candlelight in Acapulco Ice Follies; Justin McCarthy;Pennsylvania;1964; Oil on masonite;23/ 3 4"x 32";Museum ofAmerican Folk Art Gift ofElias Getz(1981.7.4.).
a limited number of bright, flat colors are employed, and the color contrasts are clear and masterful. Metallic radiator paint is sometimes used along with house paint. Pry's finished paintings were piled in a garage and forgotten, only to be rescued by Sterling Strauser. Pry's work has won prizes in local art shows and county fairs. It has appeared in several books on folk art. While not radically different, his later work is less complex and tends to be less successful. Unfortunately, Pry has suffered two strokes and is unable to work any longer. When Pry's work began to win prizes and sell, another resident of the home, Charlie Dieter, was impressed enough to try his hand at art. Although he watched Pry work, Dieter's drawings are not copies of Pry's. His works are much much schematic. Each flat form is outlined on the paper and then filled in with watercolor pencils. The same clear, bright colors are used in each
drawing. There is little, if any, patterning, and no inscriptions appear. Dieter's themes are usually women in a tree-filled landscape â€” sometimes with houses, or with hunters in a forest. Dogs, cats, pigs, deer, and especially rabbits roam through his works â€” gentle animals that appealed to their gentle creator. It is possible that the rabbits represent the artist, a shy bachelor, who needed a protective environment in which to work. His stylized figures of women were probably his way of saluting these beings who were so remote to him. One of Dieter's pleasures was listening to band concerts and he made several drawings of marching bands. Charlie Dieter was born in Little Gap, Pennsylvania, on January 30, 1922. He was one of four children of Pennsylvania German parents. He worked as a caretaker and carpenter's assistant, always living at home with his mothee2 When she died, he entered the Carbon County Home; he was 47
years old. He died there in 1986. Dieter and Pry showed each other their finished works and frequently exhibited in the same local art shows and fairs. In spite of their close relationship, neither Pry nor Dieter seemed to stray from his preferred materials, subjects, or style. Dieter, Pry, Savitsky and McCarthy, like many other contemporary naives, continued to follow a personal style throughout their careers. In contrast, many non-folk, or "academic;' artists have radically altered their artistic signatures during the course of their lives. Some do this through evolution, but most change by making a conscious intellectual decision based on other art they have seen and other artists they have talked with. Earlier folk artists changed their styles by learning from others, as well. One hallmark of twentieth century naives, besides their originality, is their continuity of one style, the fact that 59
.111 111MINV d 41 (4'
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U.S. Army Air Corps â€” Happy Landing;Lamont "Old lronsides" Pry;Pennsylvania; Circa 1970;Enamel and radiator painton cardboard; 15Â˝"x 25"; Collection ofN.F. Karlins Thoman.
they do not learn from others. This is not to say that their techniques do not evolve and change. Some learn shorthand methods for achieving the effects they desire. Howard Finster, for example, makes patterns for his plywood cutouts which he uses for future paintings. Others explore new subjects or try different kinds of media. What is surprising is the extent of the correspondence throughout their works, which points to a vision of great intensity. The psychological loss that often triggers this work seems central to its production. Savitsky lost his job, and McCarthy, by failing law school, lost any hope of regaining the family fortune. Both faced a diminished sense of self. McCarthy, for example, once said that he entered a mental hospital because "I couldn't remember who I was:"3 The deep emotional satisfaction, the relief and release, that these artists receive from their art arises because the personal vision they are communicating is less a product of intellectual formulation than a reflection of their sense of self. The intensity of their need 60
to communicate requires more direct exposure of the self than other types of art; this results in a unique style. It also permits these artists to ignore other factors, such as the look of other art, or the ideas and theories of other artists. Psychological estrangement does come in varying degrees, and not every interesting twentieth century folk artist is mentally ill, although many are. This goes back to Rousseau, that touchstone for twentieth century naive art, whom Dr. Hans Prinzhorn has suggested was "one of the quiet schizophrenics'Two things need to be said about artists who are mentally ill. First, they are only somewhat mentally ill or they would be totally unable to communicate. Art may be the most productive kind of therapy for them. Second, we should acknowledge that their art comes from their talent, not their mental illness. If these people, like McCarthy, had no artistic talent, they would be unable to express themselves so successfully in such very personal ways. It is not unusual to find folk artists in old age homes, as well as mental
hospitals or prisons. Even the most beneficent of institutions can impose a uniformity upon its inhabitants that often sparks a creative response. Both Pry and Dieter faced the challenge of differentiating themselves from other residents of the Carbon County Home and succeeded in forging new identities in the process. Beside psychological estrangement, simple lack of ability may be another reason an artist's style may not develop much. It is difficult to quantify talent and, hence, to determine whether a particular twentieth-century folk artist was simply too unskilled to change his style. I once saw an early painting by Jack Savitsky of a head of Christ that was more realistic than his usual paintings. He said he was dissatisfied with it, that it did not seem as "right" as his other work. So, vision can be more important than facility in making stylistic changes in some cases!' Time, too, can play a role in determining the stylistic development of naives. Many contemporary folk artists begin working late in life. It is possible
Photos: Janna W. Jo,
or cute in comparison to her earlier ones, perhaps because she was not allowed enough freedom to change her painting style. While I have discussed the work of only four naives here, the stylistic continuity exhibited in their paintings is symptomatic of other contemporary folk artists as diverse in style as Peter Minchell, Malcah Zeldis, and William Hawkins. One thread binds most of the makers of this vast body of material â€” few are middle class, white, AngloSaxon Protestants. Contemporary naives seem to be missing the psychological security that comes from being an "average" American, but their work is anything but average.
Untitled; Charlie Dieter; Pennsylvania; Circa 1984; Mixed media on cardboard; Private collection.
that some just do not have the time to develop more than one method of working. Yet, I suspect old age pressures some to rapidly adopt a mature style in order to express all that they have to say. Old age can also physically affect artists' work. Painters from Rembrandt to McCarthy have exhibited a tendency to loosen their style during their later years. McCarthy's declining eyesight
was at least partly responsible for his style change in the late 1960s and 19700 In the case of Anna Mary"Grandma" Robertson Moses, continuity of style probably occurred because of her early exposure to the art market. She was able to sell her work almost immediately, and her large clientele clamored for paintings with similar themes. Many of her later canvases seem stale
/8"x 16"; Untitled; Charlie Dieter; Pennsylvania; Circa 1984; Mixed media on paper; 77 Private Collection.
N.F. Karlins has her doctorate from New York University. She is art critic for The Westsider and The Chelsea Clinton News, both New York City newspapers. She has written on nineteenth and twentieth century folk art and has been guest curator of several exhibitions for the Museum of American Folk Art.
NOTES I. I am using "folk artists" in its broadest sense in this paper, as a way of indicating predominantly self. trained artists who produce work outside the artistic mainstream. I shall use "naives" interchangeably with "folk artists:' I realize that these terms are far from ideal, but they are commonly used and entirely satisfactory alternatives do not yet exist. 2. Beatrix T. Rumford, general ed., American Folk Portraits (Boston: New York Graphic Society, Inc., 1981)95. 3. N. E Karlins, "Mary Ann Willson': Folk Art in America, ed. Jack T. Erickson (New York: Mayflower Press, Inc., 1979) 110-111. 4. Jack Savitsky, personal interview, Sept. 26, 1986. 5. Jack Savitt, Savitsky's son, telephone interview, Feb. 7, 1987. 6. Nancy Green Karlins Thoman, "Justin McCarthy (1891-1977): The Making of a liventieth-Century Self-Taught Painter': diss., New York University, 1986, 82-83. 7. Karlins Thoman, 87. 8. Karlins Thoman, 61. 9. Karlins Thoman, 31-32. 10. Savitsky. II. Lamont "Old Ironsides" Pry, personal interviews, April 3, 1985 and June 13, 1986. 12. Mrs. Ruth Dieter, telephone interview, April 3, 1985 and Charlie Dieter, personal interview. April 3. 1985. 13. Justin McCarthy, personal interview, Dec. 7, 1975. 14. Hans Prinzhom, Artistry of the Mentally III, trans. Eric von Brockdorff, 2nd German edition (New York: Springer-Verlag, NY, Inc., 1972)60. 15. Savitsky. 16. Karlins Thoman,82-83.
MAINSTREETANTIQUES AND ART Colleen and Louis Picek
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FOLK ART AND ART WORLDS Edited by John Michael Vlach and Simon J. Bronner. 293 pages illustrated Published by UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1986 $39.95 hardcover Folk Art and Art Worlds is a compilation of essays drawn from the 1983 Washington Meeting on Folk Art organized by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Though the Washington Meeting may not have been the great ecumenical ingathering that Alan Jabbour describes in his Foreword, it undoubtedly was an important moment in folk art history. The publication of Worlds extends a selection of the papers read in Washington to a broader audience. Most importantly, this volume confirms that the vigorous academic community which first engaged the community of folk art collectors at the 1977 Winterthur conference did more than just flex its muscle in Washington â€” it signaled its desire to have an ongoing dialogue with collectors and museums on the field of folk art play. Vlach and Bronner's book is effectively a collage of research, scholarship and interpretation which must be viewed as a watershed production marking a significant point of arrival in folk art's ongoing quest for legitimacy as art. The book asserts that scholars investigating folk art as ideas and as signs (rather than as aestheticized objects) can enrich an appreciation of the subject. Folk Art and Art Worlds makes the point that folk art is a condition, a perception as well as a production of objects which when set in a wider conversation becomes a philosophical, aesthetic and political issue of great complexity. The information and arguments in the book establish the glossy picture books currently the rage in folk art circles as seriously deficient in content. Seminal to Vlach and Bronner's compilation is the book Art Worlds by Howard S. Becker. Published in 1982, this book has had considerable impact on American art thinking. Becker contends that the notion of a great unified art world is a gross misconception. He systematically points out that art is many things to many people. Becker argues that art is produced for many reasons and is subsequently understood by its audience only according to its conformity to
what critic Robert Pincus-Witten calls its "container" â€” the specific closed system of expectations and gratifications with which groups and individuals co-join the objects and values that form their particular "art world:' Becker describes art as "the work some people do"and contends that his study is more concerned with "the network of people whose cooperative activity organized via their joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things, produces the kind of art works [which] that art world is noted for:' Similarly, Vlach and Bronner attempt to confirm for the folk art audience that there is not a single folk art perspective but rather that there are multiple interpretations of folk-made material which lead to often opposed and contradictory assessments of the worth and meaning of everything from New England portraits of the early nineteenth century to woven baskets from the South dating from the 1960s. The strength ofFolk Art and Art Worlds is its scope. A number of the contributors survey folk art from a distance that telescopes information about the folk and their art into an enormous field of social and historical concern. John Vlach addresses his inquiry to a call for better and tighter utilization oflanguage as a tool necessary to the investigation of folk art. His is a theoretical proposition consistent with current thought in other areas of the social sciences. Likewise, Eugene Metcalf speculates on art's role in a social/political world and its meaning as a commodity deployed in the exercise of power and social control. At the opposite extreme, Charles Bergengren extrapolates from the particular to the general. He focuses his inquiry on a comparison of the painterly modes and techniques employed by academic painters and folk limners to produce likenesses of their sitters. Bergengren concludes that a brush stroke itself can betray the disposition of an artist not, however, in the modernist notion of personal expression. With the most precise and researched of data, this author establishes his proposition that an artist's brush can serve as an indicator of taste and social value â€”a telltale clue to the moral and political dispositions of sitterconsumers in a cultural milieu. Folk Artand Art Worlds examines folk art as activities and things which exist outside of the collector-dealer-museum system.
Fach of the contributing authors brings to bear a distinct perspective on folk art as something which exists in a context of ritual, pageantry, performance and social interface. A strict abjuration of folk art as objects in a consumer market flavors most of the commentary in Worlds. Suzie Jones, in her essay, even goes so far as to suggest that the placement of folk-made objects in museums and private collections could be tantamount to an act of "cultural piracy" which insults and injures artist-makers and the communities around them. In one of the most pointed and provocative essays in the book, Simon Bronner recounts a brief history of a neighborhood on Penn Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Over time, he observed the blue-collar workers ensconced in some of the Victorian row houses of the neighborhood actively enhancing the facades of their dwellings using a "bricolage" approach to renovation. Their efforts produced an ever changing pattern of visual distinctiveness in the community. Against the activities of this folk art world, Bronner pits the neighborhood improvements initiated by a community of young professionals which began buying up various houses at the other end of the block. With a separate value system, the white-collar group renovated and restored their houses in a style consistent with their own particular values and expectations. For Bronner,the clash on Penn Street illustrates the layered and convoluted concept of plural folk art worlds. Though his sympathies lie with the bricolage master, Cal (his neighbor across the street), Bronner, as a social scientist, reaches beyond his taste and his political bias to examine what he calls creativity and conflict in folk art. It is clear to anyone who attended the Washington Meeting that this book is in some ways an uneven report. The meeting itself, though focused on scholarship, nonetheless, followed an agenda liberally peppered with comment and commentary from persons deeply involved with folk art collecting. The Vlach/Bronner book noticeably omits the collector perspective. In one sense, this may be only fair. Collector perspectives on folk art are well-known and fully expressed in dozens of other publications. Folk Art and Art Worlds can thus be seen as an effort to balance what is demonstrably a skewed history. Importantly, for 63
Michael D. Hall is Resident Sculptor at the Cranbook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI. He is a longtime collector of folk art and has written and lectured extensively on the subject. 64
Photo: Courtesy of the Contemporary Arts Center
collectors, however, Vlach and Bronner wisely chose to conclude their compendium with a short statement by Henry Glassie addressed to the problem of art and aesthetics. Glassie sets his eloquent prose to an affirmation of art that should inspire all collectors. Glassie, who is best known for his rigorous theoretical folkloristic speculations, ringingly asserts that the idea of beauty is something which shapes much human activity. He scales the aesthetic summit placing his poetic pitons deftly in the seams of an art argument which allows readers to share his ascent to the condition of wonder — the unifying expectation for all who admire art. Folk Art and Art Worlds is a volume that belongs on every folk art collector's shelf. The important message in the book is that folk art worlds are not exclusive places populated by aggressive armies bent on invading and capturing each other's turf. Folklorists, social workers, arts administrators, critics and intellectual historians offer collectors new insights into the objects they collect. These partisans and researchers posit new understandings of the meanings and significations which objects carry from the worlds in which they are made and from the minds ofthe makers. The contributors to this volume socialize and (in a very real way)humanize folk art as an art form. They place folk art in a yet higher position of cultural and aesthetic resonance. As folk art seeks to become art, it commensurately relinquishes its special (and preferred) status in the world of antiques, collectibles and "Americana:'In this transition, folk art will, of necessity, need a broader base and a deeper foundation to reach the heights it aspires to. The dynamics of this change seek an expanded base — the stuff of which this base might be built are everywhere evidenced in the Vlach/Bronner book. This publication heralds the formulation of a new folk art coalition broadly committed to a more respectful celebration of the folk and their art — the condition which author/preservationist Seymour Rosen has called "the celebration of ourselves:' Michael D.Hall
The Midget Doll Theater is part ofthe Possum Trotfolk art environment built by Cal(center)and Ruby Black in a California desert;from the catalogue The Ties that Bind: Folk Art in Contemporary American Culture. THE TIES THAT BIND: FOLK ART IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN CULTURE. By Dr. Eugene Metcalf and Michael Hall. Exhibition catalogue published by The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, 1986 83 pages, acknowledgments, checklist of the exhibition, selected and annotated bibliography, black-and-white and color photos. $15.00 soft cover This publication catalogues the exhibition of the same name mounted at The Contemporary Arts Center in late 1986 and contains interpretive essays on contemporary American folk art by the co-curators of the exhibition. The catalog information includes a checklist of the exhibition's 54 objects — made by 27 known and 10 anonymous artists, mostly during the last 35 years — and photographs of 22 of these objects. Eugene Metcalf's essay chronicles the history of changing interest, particularly that of collectors, curators and avant-garde artists, in American folk art over the past sixty-years — a topic which he has been
researching for sometime. Michael Hall, in a sense, takes up where Metcalf leaves off. Citing the contemporary interest in "the ideas and political convictions as well as the narratives and metaphors which constitute the content and meaning in a given work:'he characterizes the works in the exhibition as "generated by makers responding creatively to life in the twentieth century:' He goes on to outline the eight categories of such response by which the exhibition is organized, including "enshrining heroic figures:' "appropriating popular imagery:' "transforming technology;' "confirming faith" and so on. Notably, both of the essayists argue against the removal of the art object from its context. Metcalf critizes the replacement of the original social context of the folk art object and its maker by fine art considerations, and Hall questions the adequacy of such (largely formal) considerations to illuminate what is most significant about any art, folk or not. Through such operations folk art is caught in a double bind: Either it is stripped down to form alone, or it is shipped off to the genre reservation of (merely) decorative art. In both cases folk art is seen too narrowly; neither alternative enables us
to see the work in terms ofthe more complex personal and social circumstances of its conception and creation. The categories Hall outlines for the exhibition, titled with the active verbs "reformulating"(the world),"questioning"(political authority), "perpetuating" (popular traditions), "preserving" (ethnic identity) and the others listed above, point toward a restitution of balance in this matter. The argument for such sources and intentions in the makers' lives and minds would be much stronger, though, if we could find more detailed biographical and cultural background in the catalogue. It would have helped, as well, if we could hear from the makers themselves — Their narratives and other statements about their work (many of which have been recorded or might have been), along with Metcalf and Hall's insights, would have provided the sort of context for which the curators argue. Since little specific contextual information is provided (at least in the catalogue, if not in the exhibition itself), and since most of the artists are represented by only one piece, we may reasonably be hard put to assign a larger history or motivation to the particular expressions we see. Both Metcalf and Hall mention the ongoing disagreements between collectors (and curators) and folklorists over the defi-
nition and interpretation of folk art. In doing so, Hall comments that the art itself is generally more compelling and complex than many of the arguments advanced on either side ofthese issues, which is probably the case. Along similar lines, I take issue with Hall's narrow characterization of folklorists (which, to be fair, may be only his tongue-in-cheek reading of what collectors are said to think of folklorists) as "scientists measure[ing] and count[ingj objects!' The stronger works written by folklorists on folk art — for instance, Michael Owen Jones' The Hand Made Object and Its Maker, listed with other such works in Metcalf and Hall's bibliography and concerned with the relations, in one craftsman's work, between pattern and tradition on the one hand and uniqueness and innovation on the other — are much more illuminating than this stereotype alleges. Moreover, they are so because of, not in spite of, their close observation and attention to detail. Despite the faults of omission mentioned above, these essays do make promising contributions toward more firmly-grounded presentations of folk art. The photographs are well-shot and printed, the selected bibliography is well-chosen and contains entries from a variety of perspectives and the publications as a whole has been imagina-
Kennedy on the Beach, by Eddie Arning, a 1965 drawingfrom the collection ofTim and Pam Hill, was included in the exhibition "The Ties that Bind: Folk Art in Contemporary American Culture:'
tively conceived by Cincinnati designer Keith Kleespies. The exhibition which this catalog accompanies will be on view at the North Dakota Museum in Grand Forks from August 27 to October 4, 1987, and at the San Jose (California) Museum from November 14, 1987 until January 9, 1988. Timothy C. Lloyd Timothy C. Lloyd directs the Traditional and Ethnic Arts Program of the Ohio Arts Council in Columbus, and is the Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the American Folklore Society.
AMISH DOLL QUILTS,DOLLS,AND OTHER PLAYTHINGS By Rachel and Kenneth Pellman 96 pages Good Books, Intercourse, Pennsylvania, 1986 $15.95 softcover In their previous publications on quilts and quilt patterns, Rachel and Kenneth Pellman have sensitively examined Amish society. In this latest contribution,similar in presentation to their earlier efforts, they explore the microcosmic world of Amish children. While some critics may find the text brief, the factual material still gives a more than adequate overview of Amish life. The Pellmans acknowledge the restrictions, due to religious conviction, imposed on the selection of playthings for Amish children, but they make apparent the universality of a child's imagination. The doll quilts, dolls, and stuffed toys so pleasingly photographed are special not only because they represent Amish sensibilities but because of their nostalgic appeal to the universal child in the adult. Of the three categories of playthings illustrated, Amish dolls are perhaps the best known since originals or copies are readily available in stores promoting craft or country decor. The Pellman's explain that the lack of features on most of these dolls is perhaps associated with the biblical proscription not to make graven images; however, even though these dolls may lack features, they are not without expression. The shape and size ofthe head, the contours occasionally given to the face by seams, and creased, timeworn fabric all give a definite personality to individual dolls. 65
The doll quilts are miniaturized versions in the Amish quilting tradition that includes the better known crib and full-sized quilts. These doll bedcovers for some time have been appreciated and collected by doll quilt enthusiasts, but the numbers of examples photographed for this book may be a surprise to some collectors. The didactic purpose of Amish playthings was to prepare the child for adult roles within the family and the community. Certainly the making of a doll quilt fulfilled this function for a young girl; examination of the uneven stitching, including that done by machine, and of irregular contours provides ample evidence of the doll quilt as a learning process. The stuffed animals and related toys in the last category are equally charming additions for an appreciation of Amish childhood. In the commentary preceding this section, various Amish individuals recollect past amusements, and their reflections on their childhood add to an understanding of Amish society and its values. Sharon Eisenstat Sharon Eisenstat is a graduate student in the New York University/Museum of American Folk Art Master's and Ph.D. program in Folk Art Studies.
ALL-AMERICAN FOLK ARTS AND CRAFTS By William C. Ketchum, Jr. Published by Rizzoli International Publications, NY, NY 256 pages, color illustrations $45.00 William Ketchum is one ofthe most prolific writers in the field of American folk art. His subjects run from pottery to furniture to contemporary folk art. With dealer Jay Johnson, he authored the glossy Folk Art of the Twentieth Century, published in 1983. Acceptance of folk art produced in the twentieth century is not universal. However, in his current volume All-American Folk Arts and Crafts Ketchum, admirably and correctly, persists in championing the validity of contemporary folk expression as part of a continuum from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Unfortunately, his choices of objects representing folk art of the twentieth century are largely misleading. Most of the contemporary paintings 66
ALL-AMERICAN FOLK ARTS AND OW
spread through the book are not folk art at all, but are examples of a school of painting that consciously imitates folk art of the past. These works are, for the most part, inspired by the phenomenon of Grandma Moses, whose paintings were based on her own memories of farm life, as well as on nineteenth century Currier and Ives prints. The subjects of the contemporary paintings depicted in All-American Folk Arts and Crafts, generally, are not based on the artists' own experiences, but on a nostalgic, romanticized notion of nineteenth and early twentieth century America. These decorative, sometimes charming works, which have parallels in the naive art traditions of France and Yugoslavia, frequently have a slick, almost calculated quality that is rarely present in true folk expression. While they are certainly contemporary paintings, they are not contemporary folk art. They are paintings about folk art; some would even describe them as "faux" art. All-American Folk Arts and Crafts, like Ketchum's twentieth century book, was packaged by Cynthia Parzych and published by Rizzoli International. It is not surprising, therefore, that both books have a similar bright, colorful, coffee-table look. However, the design quality of All-American Folk Arts and Crafts pales when compared to that of the earlier book. Many of the large color reproductions are too soft — or fuzzy — suggesting either inferior photography or printing. For a book that is basically a picture-book, this is a serious problem. There seems to have been no attempt,either, in the layout of the book, to put illustrations next to references in the text. Objects are mentioned in one place, then shown pages later.
The choice of objects in All-American Folk Arts and Crafts is questionable, as well. A reader familiar with folk art will have a distinct sense of deja vu, for most of the pieces illustrated have been seen before, in some cases very often. Those that are less familiar are, in fact, not folk art at all. Examples of popular art, such as cast iron toys, Fanny Farmer candy boxes, and embossed bottles are included, with no effort to distinguish them from true handmade folk objects. The text itself is pumped up and padded with lengthy,somewhatcurious quotes from period sources. It fails to deal with any of the issues currently the subject of debate in the field of folk art. Despite the title, the book never addresses what the differences are between folk arts and crafts. Such a discussion would have been a real contribution. Furthermore, the book fails to reflect any of the new research in the field, while the scholarship that is presented is, at times, faulty. "Clearly, her parents had no social pretensions:' writes the author about the unidentified child in a well-known William Matthew Prior painting, "for they allowed her to be painted while wearing only a single shoe:' No reference is made to the use of the bare foot — along with the ship, dying tree and other symbols — to signify a postmortem portrait. Given Mr. Ketchum's estimable background, this book could have been more than just another celebration of American folk art, another rehash of what's come before. It is, simply put, disappointing. It further confuses when it should be refining and clarifying. By its presentation, it toys with such basic issues as folk vs. popular, art vs. craft, and folk vs. faux, but never takes them head on. The growing vitality of the field is lost in the book's inaccuracies and disregard for recent scholarship. New books dealing with folk art should enhance the field, adding to the collective body of knowledge. It's time that books on folk art started taking their subject Didi Barrett seriously. Didi Barrett is Director of Publications of the Museum of American Folk Art and Editor of The Clarion. She was curator of the exhibition "Muffled Voices: Folk Artists in Contemporary America:'
Sharon W.Joel Antiques Mailing address: 2317 Segovia Avenue Jacksonville, FL 32217 Telephone: (904) 733-3169 By Appointment A rewarding 5 minutes from the University Blvd W.Exit on 1-95 and US 1 in Jacksonville.
Subject to prior sale.
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Sheet steel train weathervane in wonderful old paint. N1JKERK on the front side, and dated 1883 on the reverse side. 15.5" L x14.5" H. "Flying Horse Weathervane Mold" by Kenneth Lynch, 36" x 18" x 5" (c. 1920)
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Sandra Rice. Mr. Abercrombie's Afternoon Out, 1986. H.8", w.7", d.6 1/2". Fired clay, acrylic. Reference: Johnson and Ketchum, American Folk Art of the Twentieth Century, pp. 265-267.
Robert Cargo FOLK ART GALLERY 2314 Sixth Street, downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401 Open weekends only and by appointment
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Museum Director, Dr. Robert Bishop, talks with Kathy Hillman Fine, daughter of Jill and the late Austin Fine, and an unidentified Museum supporter at Sotheby's.
From left, Mr. and Mrs. Scudder Smith chat with David Davies.
TRIBUTE TO AUSTIN FINE More than 500 members of the Museum of American Folk Art undaunted by the snow turned out at Sotheby's on January 27, 1987 for a lecture by Ralph Esmerian, President of the Board of Trustees, and a reception and private viewing of Americana from the collection of M. Austin and Jill R. Fine. Austin Fine, who died last year, was a renowned folk art collector and former president of the American Folk Art Society.
The evening was sponsored by the Friends Committee of the Museum and Sotheby's. The Museum is particularly grateful to Kennetha Stewart, Treasurer of the Friends Committee, who coordinated the evening, as well as volunteers Jill Rigby, Sandra Nowlin, Daryl Ferber, Brian Magel and Tom Cuff. Special thanks, as well, to Nancy Druckman and Hillary Cushing of Sotheby's, and Lillian and Miles Cahn, of Coach Farms, who generously contributed the splendid selection of goat cheese served at the reception.
Lillian and Miles Cahn, owners ofCoach Farms, who donated goat cheeses for the reception, surround Hildegarde Vetter-Jones, a member of the Friends Committee. Furniture experts David Schorsch, left, and Leslie Keno examine a Queen Anne tea table, one of the many highlights ofthe sale.
FOLK ART FILM & VIDEO REPOSITORY Thanks to the efforts of N.Y.U. intern Ben Apfelbaum, the Museum of American Folk Art now has a catalogue of 175 films and 66 video tapes on folk art and folk artists that are available to the viewing public. This compilation is being shared with the Program for Art on Film, a joint venture of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The J. Paul Getty Trust. The MAFA library under the directorship of Edith Wise has a copy of this which can be seen on request. Anyone who knows offilms or video tapes in this field is invited to send this information to Michael McManus care of the museum; he is co-ordinating the project which will eventually include a library of the films and videos. Plans are currently underway for a film festival in the Fall of 1987 which will feature 20th century folk art and artists.
Donald B. Marron, Chairman ofPaineWebber Group,Inc. and Charlotte Dinger, guest curator of "Catch a Brass Rine share a word with Museum Director, Dr. Robert Bishop.
ACCESS • • • T
gala opening November 24, 1986. This spirited exhibition of approximately 40 fanciful carousel animals and related sculpture, which was organized by guest curator Charlotte Dinger, was part of the Museum of American Folk Art's Exhibitions in Public Spaces which will continue throughout the building program.
An Art Resource Directory for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the first phase of a project called Access to Art, is being published jointly by the Museum of American Folk Art and the American Foundation for the Blind. Information is being sought on the following: Organizations, newsletters, classes, workshops, and competitions for visually impaired artists, art students and art history students; art materials on tape, in large print or in braille; material for teaching art to the visually impaired; and museums and galleries with special facilities for the visually impaired. Please send information to: Irma J. Shore, Director, Art Resource Directory for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Museum of American Folk Art,444 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016.
Manes flying, muscles straining, eyes flashing — the carousel animals seemed ready to leap to life in the Museum's exhibit, "Catch a Brass Ring: Carousel Art From The Charlotte Dinger Collection:' Hosted by corporate sponsor PaineWebber, hundreds of Museum members and invited guests were treated to a
oipnis nualmU. L861
ART DIRECTORY FOR THE BLIND
FOLK ART INSTITUTE Register now for Fall courses at the Museum's Folk Art Institute. Classes begin September 8, 1987. Auditors are welcome on a space available basis at $10 a session. A reduced fee is offered to auditors who sign up for the whole course. For fully matriculated students ofthe Institute, the tuition is $75 a credit. Charges are $65 for the course"How to Paint& Grain";$50for students enrolled in the Folk Art Institute. The following program is subject to minor changes. For further information write or call the Folk Art Institute, 444 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-7321; tel. 212/481-3080.
FA 61A TRADITIONAL FOLKLIFE AND FOLK ART: RESEARCH/DOCUMENTATION/EXHIBITION
Wednesdays 10:00am-12:30pm Instructor:
Gerard C. Wertkin Assistant Director of Museum of American Folk Art
A course which trains students to locate, document and exhibit examples of traditional folklife and folk art in the New York metropolitan area. Field research, taking oral histories and developing community liaisons will be stressed. This course will have a sequel in the Spring and culminate in an exhibition curated by the students.
FOLK ARTS OF RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN RURAL AMERICA
5 Tuesdays 5:30pm-8:00pm September 22; October 6, 20; November 3,17
Barbara Kaufman-Cate Director, Folk Art Institute; Associate Professor of Art History
Instructor: Gerard C. Wertkin
A survey of American art, including such figures as Copley, Stuart, Cole, Homer and Eakins. Special attention is given to the differences between the academic tradition and the folk art tradition.
FA 10 FOLK ARTISTS IN AMERICAN LIFE
Time and dates to be announced
A background course presenting a broad spectrum of folk expressions in painting, sculpture, textiles, ceramics and furniture. Included will be a glossary of folk terms and comprehensive bibliography.
A study of the life and arts of religious communal groups throughout the United States. The home life, religious practices, art and artifacts of these communities will be considered. The Ephrata Cloister of Pennsylvania, the Separatists of Ohio and the Harmonists of Pennsylvania and Indiana are among the many societies which will be studied.
FA 103 SEMINAR: RECENT RESEARCH ON COLONIAL ARTISTS OF THE HUDSON RIVER VALLEY
Henry Niemann Ph.D. candidate in American Folk Art; author
FA 32 CARE, CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION
Wednesdays 5:30pm-8:00pm Instructor:
Coordinator: Henry Niemann This course offers an overview of the methods and skills needed for proper care, conservation and restoration. Visiting lecturers will speak on such subjects as textiles, paper, painting and ceramics; students will have the opportunity to visit restoration laboratories.
Seminar Director: Mary Black Consulting Curator/Museum of American Folk Art Student Adviser: Joyce Hill Consulting Research Curator/Museum of American Folk Art A five day seminar on painters in New England, New York and Tidewater Virginia from 1690-1745; among the artists studied will be Nehemiah Partridge, Pieter Vanderlyn, John Watson and the Duyckincks. The seminar will be given in New York City for the first two days; on the third day buses will take the participants to Albany, stopping at Boscobel and the Kingston Senate House; the last two days will be spent in Albany.
FA 202 INDIVIDUAL STUDIES Instructors: Staff
FA 35 AMERICAN FURNITURE: FINE AND FOLK Mondays Instructor:
5:30pm-8:00pm Wilson E. O'Donnell Director of the New Jersey Historical Society
FA 500 WORKSHOP: HOW TO PAINT AND GRAIN FURNITURE
Instructor: Students will learn to identify and understand American furniture of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Each period will be explored in the context of its historical background, stylistic and design characteristics, significant construction details, form and function.
5 Thursdays 6:00pm-8:00pm October 8, 15, 22, 29; November 5 Rubens Teles Artist; Vice-President of Jay Johnson, Inc.
A lecture/workshop course to teach students the history of painted furniture and how to grain, marbleize, stencil and distress wood.
MUSEUM OF AMERICAN FOLK ART BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Executive Committee Ralph Esmerian President Frances Sirota Martinson Esq. Executive Vice President Lucy C. Danziger Vice President Karen S. Schuster Secretary George F. Shaskan, Jr. Treasurer Judith A. Jedlicka Margery G. Kahn Theodore L. Kesselman Susan Klein
Members Mabel H. Brandon Florence Brody Catherine G. Cahill Karen D. Cohen Daniel Cowin Barbara Johnson, Esq. Alice M. Kaplan William I. Leffler Cyril I. Nelson Cynthia V.A. Schaffner Kathryn Steinberg
Bonnie Strauss Maureen Taylor Helene von Damm-Guertler Robert N. Wilson Trustees Emeritus Mary Allis Adele Earnest Cordelia Hamilton Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr. Louis C. Jones Jean Lipman
NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
Frances S. Martinson Chairman Mary Black Gray Boone David Davies
Howard M. Graff Lewis I. Haber Phyllis Haders Barbara Kaufman Robert Meltzer
George Meyer Paul Oppenheimer Alfred R. Shands, III Hume R. Steyer
DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Jeanne R. Kerr, Vice President Corporate Contributions, Time Inc.
Robert M. Meltzer, Chairman ofthe Board, Miami-Carey Corporation
Dee Topol, Manager, Shearson/Lehman American Express Inc. Contributions Program
Marian Z. Stern, Assistant Vice President, Community Programming, Chemical Bank
CURRENT MAJOR DONORS
The Museum of American Folk Art thanks its current major donors for their generous support:
Over $20,000 Judi Boisson Mr. & Mrs. Frederick M. Danziger 72
Mrs. Eva Feld Estate of Morris Feld Foundation Krikor Foundation Tarex *IBM Corporation Mary Kettaneh Laura Ashley, Inc. Jean and Howard Lipman National Endowment for the Arts
*PaineWebber Group Inc. *Philip Morris Incorporated *Scotchguard Brand Products *American Express Company Herbert and Nell Singer Foundation, Inc. *United Technologies Corporation Estate of Jeannette B. Virgin Mrs. Dixon Wecter *The Xerox Foundation
CURRENT MAJOR DONORS
$10,000-$19,999 Mr. & Mrs. Peter Cohen The Joyce & Daniel Cowin Foundation Inc. Adele Earnest Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies Margery & Harry Kahn Philanthropic Fund Ira Howard Levy Joseph Martinson Memorial Fund The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New York State Council on the Arts *Restaurant Associates Industries, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. George F. Shaskan, Jr. Mr. & Mrs. Robert Steinberg Barbara and Thomas W. Strauss Fund
$4,000-$9,999 Amicus Foundation *Bankers Trust Company The Bernhill Fund *Celanese Corporation *Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. Christie's *The Clokeys Inc. Mr. & Mrs. Edgar M. Cullman F.A.O. Schwarz Colonel Alexander W. Gentleman *International Paper Company Foundation Barbara Johnson, Esq. Kallir, Philips, Ross, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. Robert Klein Ronald K. Shelp Sotheby's *Time Inc. Norman & Rosita Winston Foundation
$2,000-$3,999 American Standard Graphics George & Frances Armour Foundation *Bristol-Myers Rind Catherine G. Cahill *Chemical Bank *The Coach Dairy Goat Farm Country Home Joseph F. Cullman 3rd *Exxon Corporation *Grumman Corporation *Institutional Investor *Manufacturers Hanover Trust *Marsh & McLennan Companies Christopher & Linda Mayer Helen R. 8z Harold C. Mayer Foundation *McGraw-Hill, Inc. *Metropolitan Life Foundation George Meyer *Morgan Stanley & Co.,Incorporated New York City Department of Cultural Affairs *New York Telephone Company
*Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation *J.C. Penney Company, Inc. *The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. Marguerite Riordan *The Rockefeller Group, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Safra Robert T. & Cynthia V. A. Schaffner *Schlumberger Foundation, Inc. Mrs. Richard T. Taylor William Wiltshire III
$1,000-$1,999 *American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Anonymous *The Bank of New York *Chesebrough-Pond's Inc. *Citibank, N.A. *Con Edison *Culbro Corporation *Daily News Mr. & Mrs. Alvin Deutsch Virginia S. Esmerian John L. Ernst Mr. & Mrs. Walter B. Ford II *Gannett Foundation Emanuel Gerard Justus Heijmans Foundation *Hilton International Judith A. Jedlicka Theodore L. Kesselman Susan Kudlow *Macy's New York Robert & Betty Marcus Foundation, Inc. Marstrand Foundation Estate of Myron L. Mayer Meryl & Robert Meltzer James Meyer *The NL Industries Foundation, Inc. *Nestle Foods Corporation New York Council for the Humanities *The New York Times Company Foundation, Inc. Geraldine M. Parker *Polo/Ralph Lauren Leo & Dorothy Rabkin *RCA Mrs. Dorothy H. Roberts Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III Jon & Sue Rotenstreich Foundation Rev. & Mrs. Alfred R. Shands III Ruben and Harriet Shohet Mrs. Joel Simon Annan & Louise Simone Foundation Mrs. Vera W. Simmons Philip & Mildred Simon H. van Ameringen Foundation Anne Vandenvarker Helene von Damm-Guertler David & Jane Walentas *Wertheim Schroder & Co. Robert N. & Anne Wright Wilson
$500-$999 American Stock Exchange The Bachmann Foundation, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. Frank Barsalona David C. Batten Beaulieu Vineyard Bloomingdale's Edward J. Brown Colgate-Palmolive Company Codorniu U.S.A., Inc. The Danunann Fund, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. Richard Danziger Mr. & Mrs. James DeSilva, Jr. Marion and Ben Duffy Foundation Mr. and Mrs. Lewis M. Eisenberg Richard C. & Susan B. Ernst Foundation Jacqueline Fowler Cordelia Hamilton The Charles U. Harris Living Trust Joyce & Stephen Hill Cathy M. Kaplan Jana K. Klauer Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Lauder Wendy & Mel Lavitt William I. Leffler Helen E.R. Luchars Robin & William Mayer Louis Newman â€” in memory of Paul Roberts Smith Gallery Robert C. & Patricia A. Stempel Mrs. Anne Utescher Robert W.& Marillyn B. Wilson
The Museum is grateful to the CoChairwomen of its Special Events Committee for the significant support received through the Museum's major fund raising events chaired by them. Cynthia V.A. Schaffner Karen S. Schuster
The Museum also thanks the following donors for their recent gifts to the Permanent Collection and Library: Robert Bishop Reginald Case Mr. & Mrs. Alvin Deutsch Gertrude Schweitzer John Peer Karen Homey Clinic Mr. & Mrs. Harris Glodstein The Estate of Samuel Meulendyke
*Corporate Member 73
OUR INCREASED MEMBERSHIP CONTRIBUTIONS NOVEMBER 1986-FEBRUARY 1987
We wish to thank the following members for their increased membership contributions and for their expression of confidence in the Museum: Seymour Algus MD,Brooklyn, NY Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bernbach, Brooklyn, NY Amy A. Boyer, New York, NY Hank Brockman, Nashville, TN Edward and Nancy Coplon, New York, NY Aaron Daniels, New York, NY Charlotte Dinger, Morristown, NJ Mrs. William J. Doyle, New York, NY Edward B. Effrein, Oak Brook, IL Carol and Robert Enright, Ashford, CT Henry and Mans Feiwel, New York, NY Beverly Field, Dallas, TX Hilda Fins, Carmel, NY Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Gellhom, Durham, NY
Leonora V. Goldberg, Brooklyn, NY Mr. and Mrs. Charles Goodyear, Darien, CT Rose Ellen and Gerald Greene, Coral Gables, FL Anne J. Hayden, Rockville Centre, NY Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Heerdt, Pound Ridge, NY Kathleen B. Heng, Oakland, CA Samuel Herrup, Brooklyn, NY Mr. and Mrs. David S. Howe, New York, NY Mrs. Jack Hughston, Cataula, GA Roger Isaacs, Glencoe, IL Burton R. and Pico Kassell, New York, NY Harriet Kelly, New York, NY Leigh Keno, New York, NY Martha Leversuch, Stamford, CT Mimi S. and Richard M. Livingston, Larchmont, NY Patricia Phillips Marco, New York, NY L. Marini, Wellesley Hills, MA
Mrs. Richard McRae, Jackson, MS Alan Meckler, New York, NY Pierson K. Miller, Carlisle, PA Adrian Milton, New York, NY Margot Zucker Mindich, New York, NY Mr. and Mrs. John Neuhart, Hermosa Beach, CA Burton W. Pearl MD,Cherry Hill, NJ Gertrude M. Pinto, New York, NY Anne-Marie Reilly, Hoboken, NJ Alice E. Rudell, New York, NY M. Sue and Robert G. Russell, Grosse Point Woods, MI Laura J. Scott, Cranbury, NJ Dorothy Serdenis, New York, NY Frederick J. Smith, Low Beach, NY Marianne Spiegel, New York, NY Dana Tillou, Buffalo, NY Elizabeth and Earl Yaffa, Armonk, NY
OUR GROWING MEMBERSHIP NOVEMBER 1986-FEBRUARY 1987
The Museum trustees and staff extend a special welcome to these new members: Robert Adler, New York, NY Nancy Alexander, San Francisco, CA Pamela Anderson, New York, NY Norma Andrew, Wilowdale, Canada Dean Anslow, New York, NY Richard Arthur, Glenmont, NY Mrs. S.C. Austell, Columbus, NC Ruby Bachert, Louisville, KY Mrs. Alfred R. Bachrach, New York, NY Judith Baldwin, New York, NY Chesta Bandfield, Manhasset, NY Mr. & Mrs. Lee K. Barba, Far Hills, NJ N.K. Barrett, Berwyn, PA Mrs. Joseph Beck, Topeka, KS Pauline Bernatchez, New York, NY Louise Bernier, Clinton, CT Austin E. Bernstein, Los Angeles, CA Meredith Bernstein, New York, NY Christina Bigler, Mels, Switzerland Mrs. Tom Bird, Chapel Hill, NC J.C. Blickensderfer, Englewood,CO Kathleen Brady, New York, NY Mr. & Mrs. David Brandt, Stamford, CT Peggy Braveman, Philadelphia, PA Sandra B. Breakstone, New York, NY June Brereton, Norwalk, CT Andrea Brewster, Sandy Hook, CT Beverly Brigandi, Katonah, NY Elaine Brosseau, Houston, TX James H. Bryson, Blue Bell, PA 74
Mark Burdett, New York, NY Maureen M. Burke, Lancaster, MA James J. Burkemper, St. Louis, MO Virginia C. Bussey, Manhattan, KS Mary Butler, New York, NY Cathleen Calleri, Iselin, NJ Elaine M. Carlson, East Greenwich, RI Marilyn Draper Carr, Barrington, IL Robert L. Chaffin, Waseca, MN Debbie Challman, Redmond, WA N.L. Chandler, Burke, VA Sarah J. Chapin, New York, NY Mary Lee Clark, Elizabeth, NJ Mary Clark, Selah, WA Mrs. Robert Claster, Philadelphia, PA Mary Ann Coghill, Ithaca, NY Debbie Cole, Glendale, AZ Craftsmen Litho Inc., Waterbury, CT Patricia Cunningham, Bronx, NY Pamela A. Dawson, Glen Ridge, NJ Madeline C. Delgado, Poughquag, NY Esty Duff, Byfield, MA Richard Edson, Baltimore, MD John H. Ehrlich, East Hampton, NY Robert Elkins, Owings Mills, MD Kay Heppner Evans, Sherman Oaks, CA Josh Feldstein, Gainesville, FL Angela Ferber, Fishkill, NY Madeleine B. Fisher, Wellesley Hills, MA Alan D. Foster, Sharon Springs, NY
Marcia G. Fuchs, Old Lyme,CT Jacqui Gardner, Minnetonka, MN Conrad Geier, Exton, PA Arnold M. Gilbert, Flossmoor, IL Craig M. Gilkes, Ridgefield, CT Carol M. Gillard, New York, NY Aimee Gilman, Hallandale, FL Nancy Glanzberg, New York, NY Robert Goldman, New York, NY Sandi Goldman, Miami, FL Jennifer Goode, New York, NY Jennifer Goodman, Washington, DC Dan Graschuck, Detroit, MI Michele Graybeal, Lawrenceville, NJ Alfred D. Griesman, MD,Rumson, NJ Lucy R. Grijalva, Benecia, CA Suzanne S. Hamer, Wasco,IL Elizabeth S. Hamill, Falmouth, ME Janet Handelman, Los Angeles, CA Lynn Harper, New York, NY Ellen Harris, W. Orange, NJ Elspeth Hart, Brooklyn, NY Victoria Hawkins, Nantucket, MA Catherine Hazard, New York, NY Mr. & Mrs. John C. Head III, New York, NY Lyn Headley-Moore,Towaco, NJ Gary E. Heimbuch, Boonsboro, MD Caroline W. Heller, Brooklyn, NY Norma Helwege, New York, NY Mary E. Henkel, Miami, FL Amy M. Henry, New York, NY Hier Pour Demain Antiques, Piedmont, Canada
Kathy Schoemer American Antiques
1,,,,Oy.•1 l'rviir ..4 A•W67I ,fil-N4Aiadi'1' i ^11_711 a.= I .,._
APRIL 14TH MAY 30TH
& A LONG ISLAND GALLERY SPECIALIZING IN THE SALE OF FINE ANTIQUE FURNITURE & ART DECOYS & SPORTING COLLECTIBLES
a.- •Tiengil ...21.1 . 1i p .1- 0,-' , ..o. jt IMIIIIIIli 111
Yellow Monkey Village, Route 35 Cross River, New York 10518 (914)763-3283 Tuesday thru Sunday, 10 to 6
• Fine Antique Painted Furniture
ERTHA LACK *American*
• Folk Art • Quilts ,
/ 7 11:e7 A ?"-
SOUTH BAY AUCTIONS BOX 303 • EAST MORICHES • NEW YORK 11940 (516) 878-2909
Red Bull, New Hampshire
oil on canvas
221 / 2"x 161 / 4"
We Are Looking For Consignments Of Fine Quality Antique Furniture • Paintings Sporting Collectibles • Decoys & All Categories Of Folk Art
80 Thompson Street, New York, N.Y. 10012 (212) 966-7116
OUR GROWING MEMBERSHIP
Rosalie Higginbotham, San Jose, IL D.W. Hill, Sydney, Australia Victoria Hill, S. Orange, NJ Iona L. Hoare, Portland, OR Mrs. J.B. Hodgman, Glen Ridge, NJ Patricia Hofbauer, Montpelier, OH Alfred C. Holden, Brooklyn, NY Anne Holmes, Plano, TX Joy Horowitz, Santa Monica, CA Hughes High School Library, Cincinnati, OH Diana Hughes, Bridgewater, MA Paul Jacobs, New York, NY Allan Jaffe, New Orleans, LA Joan E. Jarosek, Brooklyn, NY Cynthia K. Jensen, New York, NY Alexis M. Joseph, Ridgewood, NJ Dorothy Jurczenia, Uniondale, NY Gay Miller Kahn, Atlanta. GA Virginia Kande!, Rahway, NJ Lee Katzoff, Yardley, PA Gloria P. Keating, Alfred, ME Liliane Kernen, Geneva, Switzerland Antonia Kirwan-Taylor, London, England Becki Klenert, S. Orange, NJ Steve Kostaras, Secaucus, NJ Joseph Koval, Indiana, PA Wanda Leonard Krantz, Killington, VT James A. Kranzusch, Atlanta, GA Leslie S. Kreisler, MD,Richmond, VA
Clayton Mitropoulos, New York, NY Cliff Morrison, Elkin, NC Ann L. Moss, Brooklyn, NY Mark Mowen, Hagerstown, MD Marcia Muth, Santa Fe, NM Kathleen Naythons, Sausalito, CA Monique Necant Studio, New York, NY Patricia Nelligan, New York, NY Caroline M. Neumann, Houston, TX Northwest Community College, Powell, WY Frederick Nystrom III, Naples, FL David K. O'Neil, Philadelphia, PA Suzanne O'Rourke, Buffalo, NY Austin O'Toole, Houston, TX Geri Offerjost, Pluckemin, NJ Jerome W. Oh!sten, New York, NY Michael R. Pacitti, W. Berlin, NJ Jonathan Parks, Ltd., Santa Fe, NM Edward SL Partridge, Francestown, NH Stephen Pearlman, New York, NY Lisa Pearson, New York, NY Mary Jane Pelz, Scarsdale, NY Corky Pollan, New York, NY Cynthia L. Postmus, Ann Arbor, MI Pratt Institute Library, Brooklyn, NY Harry S. Precourt, New York, NY Faye Prewitt, New York, NY Robert F. Quagliaroli, Newington, CT
Linda Lamb, Seattle, WA Jan Landis, Tampa, FL Carol R. Lands, Vacaville, CA Martin Lankford, Portland, MI Karen A. Larsen, Burlington, VT Kay P. Lautmann, Washington, DC Ann W. Lehmann, Westerly, RI Janet H. Lehman, Haddonfield, NJ Kathryn Leonard, Wayne, NJ Anne Lewis, Washington, DC Liberty Industries, Inc., Tacoma, WA Ruth Linde, Woodcliff Lake, NJ Vioris Lindquist, East Hartford, CT Daniel T. Lindsay, Minneapolis, MN John L. Long, Mineral, VA Martha A. Lomini, Brooklyn, NY Beverly T. Lynds, Tucson, AZ Mrs. CE Mapes, Jr., Princeton, NJ Bev Marx, Stamford, CT Al Marzorini, Washington, DC Suzanne Matthias, Radnor, PA John A. McCumin, Baton Rouge, LA Thomas A. McGaw, Brooklyn, NY Bruce L. McInnes, New York, NY Beverlee McKinsey, New York, NY Eileen Marie McMahon, Bayonne, NJ Diane McMenamin, Chevy Chase, MD Mrs. R.M. Melchior, New York, NY Gary Meyer, Oakland, CA
Elizabeth Ramage, New York, NY Susan L. Randall MD,Rochester, WA Karen Reasoner, Elkhart, IN Melissa G. Ridgeway, Jackson, MS H. Kelley Rollings, Tucson, AZ Roberta M. Ross, Spartanburg,SC Jean I. Russell, Brooklyn, NY Susan Miles Ryan, New York, NY Anthony Sabestinas, Towaco, NJ Ruth Nelson Sacco, Gilroy, CA Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, UT San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA James G. Schneider, Glendale, NY Arlene Schulman, New York, NY V.L. Schwenk, Basking Ridge, NJ Gary J. Schwindler MD,Athens, OH Reba H. Scobionko, Macungie, PA Mary Ann Seltzer, Overland Park, KS Ruben C. Shohet, New York, NY Lucile P. Simmons, Lakeport, NH Mr. & Mrs. Alan B. Slifka, New York, NY Glenn Smit, Cardiff, CA Mrs. Arden Smith, Rye Brook, NY Regina Stapelton Smith, White Plains, NY
Russell L. Smith, Merrimack, NH Karl Soderlund, New York, NY Spotted Cow, Downey,CA St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN Sarah M. Starkweather, Riverside, CT Edward Stecewicz. Jr.. Nutley, NJ Lesly Steinman, New York, NY Clare L. Stephens, Vienna, WV Martha Roby Stephens, New York, NY Linda Nelson Stocks, Fisher, IL Barbara Strand, Neelyton, PA Richard Sulecki, Burlington, NC Tammy Sumich, Troutdale, OR Zelma Super, New York, NY Nina Palmer Sweeney, New York, NY Carole Tanenbaum, Toronto, Canada John Tate, Malvern, PA Bethann Thornburg, Washington, DC Keiko Toki, Kyoto, Japan Richard H. Traini, Miami, FL Juliet Travison, New York, NY Carol J. ihroczi, Limeport, PA Pamela Turrell, Columbus, OH James Udell, New York, NY Karen Ulfers, Cincinnati, OH Judy Lee Ulmer, Philadelphia, PA University of Richmond Library, Richmond, VA University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL University of Delaware, Newark, DE University of Idaho, Moscow,ID Anne Utescher, Alassio, Italy Elizabeth Van Gelder, Groton, MA Rowena Van Hoof, Mobile, AL Mary Ann Van Valkenburg, Bronxville, NY Michelle Venus, Cliffside Park, NJ Anne M. Wall, Rockville Centre, NY Linda Walsh, Concord, NH Susan Walthers, Apalachin, NY Karen V. Waters, La Plata, MD Mrs. Richard Weidman, Sinking Spring, PA Ira Weissman, New York, NY Melissa Wells, Thomson, GA Linda Stack Whinery, New York, NY Grace White, Topeka, KS Lee A. Whiteside, Pompano Beach, FL Donna Wilder, Weston, CT Alison Bell Wise, Purchase, NY Julian B. Wolff, Wantagh, NY Doris Wolfson, New York, NY Marjorie Wollin, New York, NY Philip G. Woods, Cincinnati, OH Nancy Worden, Seattle, WA Haesook Yang, Briarcliff Manor, NY Carole A. Yeager, Freehold, NJ Betty B. Young, Miami, FL Florence Zipkin, Ossining, NY
HOOKED RUGS FROM NANTUCKET NEEDLEWORKS Our catalog of original hooked rugs and needlepoint designs is now available for $5.00 refundable on your first purchase. Order our video "How to Hook Your Own Rug':
NANTUCKET NEEDLEWORKS PO Box 2571 Nantucket, MA 02584
To order call: For information:
An original Claire Murray design
for displaying Quilts & Hooked Rugs Rag Carpets sewn together for Area Rugs
Pie Galinat 230 w.10th St., n.y. , n.y. 10014 (212) 741-3259
MERGANSERS attached foursome carved, painted and signed by K. Kautz and Sons
24" x11" high
since March, 1980
THE HIGH TOUCH NEWSLETTER of contemporary folk art
Personal vignettes of folk artists, topical news, calendar, commentary, new finds and new directions in 20th century folk art.
$235 the set ppd
Amply illustrated. Four issues per year.
The Gallery of Folk Art 111 Washington Street Marblehead, MA 01945 617-631-1594
Standing Mustached Man,
John Vivolo, 1976. Painted wood, height 29/ 1 2".
Send $9 to Folk Art Finder, 117 North Main, Essex, CT. 06426, Phone 203-767-0313
The art ofAmerican cooking
rom the folk art that surrounds you, to the culinary art that's before you,the American Festival Cafe is an ever-changing celebration of the best of Americana.
American Festival Cafe at Rockefeller Plaza In the center ofthe center of New York. 20 West 50th Street, Reservations:(212)246-6699. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Supper Mon. thru Sat. Weekend Brunch and Sunday Dinner. 78
Berneta Crowder -Up Dike's Hill' Acrylic on Board 11 x 14 in. Signed Lower Right 1986 We have several paintings by Mrs. Crowder, who conâ€” tinues to paint at home in Petersburg, Virginia.
Fine American and European Paintings and Drawings Fine Art Appraisal Restoration Estate and Trust Consultant Specializing in 18th, 19th and Early 20th Century Paintings 5705 Grove Avenue Richmond, Virginia 23226 Telephone:(804)288 2109
Now you can easily locate information on 9,000 American folk artists from the 17th Century to the present from over 200 publications. The standard entry includes the artist's name (with variants)... and, if known,date and place of birth and death ... years and locations of creative activity ... the artist's ethnicity ... type of work ... museums ... and the published sources of the information. In addition to the 9,000 artist entries,the book also contains computerized indexes of: • Artists' ethnic background • Museums housing the artists' works • Type of work (coverlets, portraits, weathervanes, etc.) • Media (tin, fabric, wood, etc.) • Geographic area where,t,be artist flourished. "A first-rate work of major importance." —Dr. Robert BishoP, Director, Museum of American Folk Art Edited by George H. Meyer,a member of the National Advisory Council,Museum of American Folk Art.Published in association with the Museum of American Folk Art. 496 pages(81 / 2"x II"). $40.00. Call tollfree 800-223-GALE to order by American Express, VISA, or MasterCard.(Prepayment required but prepaid and credit card orders receive a S% discount with no shipping or handling charges. $38.00 net.) Also available at the Museum of American Folk Art Book Stores.
Gale Research Company• Book. Tower• Detroit, MI 48226
GRAB THE BRASS RING AND RIDE THRU 250 PAGES OFPRANCING COLOR! "... an important book to ownfor anyone with an interest in American Mk art..."
ANNOUNCING PUBLICATION OF SCHIMMEL M0UNTZ BARR E,TT
Bob Bishop, Director MUSEUM OF AMERICAN FOLK ART PAINTED PONIES contains over 600 color photos of folk-art antiques, and their amazing stories. It is a treasure book for you and your family and a comprehensive reference for the collector Discover this vanishing art form through brilliant color photos of the finest figures from the best collections, with comments and identification of the outstanding artists, and practical information and advice on identifying. collecting, and the preservation of carousel art. This beautifully designed hook contains an illustrated catalogue of operating carousels, with ratings and information, plus a directory of publications, organizations, dealers, and restorers. 256 pages,(TA- x I ittdeluxe edition, handsomely hard-bound in cloth. Send S.A.S.E. for color brochure By William Manns, Peggy Shank, Only $39.95 plus $3.50 for shipping. Mail prepaid orders to: and one of America's leading authorities on carousel art and history. Marianne Stevens. ZON INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING BOX 2511, DEPT.-25 SPRINGFIELD, OHIO 45501.
by Milton E Flower
Wilhelm Schimmel is one of three Cumberland County (PA) woodcarvers portrayed in a book published December 1986. In addition, the author reviews the lives and works of Aaron Mountz and Bruce Barrett. 26 pp, 1 color pg. 26 illus. $10 plus 60¢ shipping. Cumberland County Historical Society, P.O. Box 626, Carlisle, PA 17013. 79
"Ice Skating on the Susquehana" by Janet Munro Watercolor on paper 22"x 42"
JAY JOHNSON Heritage Gallery America's Folk
1044 Madison Avenue, NewYork N.Y 10021 Daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.(212)628-7280
INDEX TO ADVERTISERS Americana by the Seashore American Festival Cafe American Primitive Gallery Ames Gallery of American Folk Art Mama Anderson Antique Center at Hartland Beneduce & Lozell Ruth Bigel Antiques/Hillman-Gemini Bertha Black Antiques BMW of North America Robert Cargo Folk Art Gallery Cavin-Morris, Inc. Christies The Clokeys The Connecticut Tinsmith Cumberland County Historical Society Leslie Eisenberg Folk Art Gallery Epstein/Powell Fine Arts of Ancient Lands, Inc. Janet Fleisher Gallery Folk Art Finder 80
67 78 17 24 24 68 31 19 75 16 68 23 4 20 68 79 27 30 20 9 78
79 Gale Research Company Pie Galinat 77 Gallery Mayo 78 The Gallery of Folk Art 78 Gasperi Folk Art Gallery 29 Sidney Gecker American Folk Art 21 The Grass Roots Gallery 28 Greenwillow Farm, Ltd. 18 Guthman Americana 29 Pat Guthman Antiques 21 Phyllis Haders 11 Hirschl & Adler Folk 5 Sharon W. Joel Antiques 67 Jay Johnson 80 Kelter-Malce Inside Front Cover R.E. Kinnaman/B.A. Ramaekers 2 R.H. Love Galleries, Inc. 15 Don Mackey Shows, Inc. Inside Back Cover 62 Main Street Antiques & Art
3 Ken & Ida Matiko 10 Frank Maresca/Roger Ricco 19 Davis Mather Folk Art Gallery Mia Gallery 30 1 Steve Miller 77 Nantucket Needleworks, Inc. Nonesuch Gallery 26 Ohio Gallery 31 Susan Parrish 14 67 Prince Art Consultants 18 Sheila & Edwin Rideout John Keith Russell Antiques, Inc. Back Cover 68 The Scarlet Letter 75 Kathy Schoemer 12 David A. Schorsch 75 South Bay Auctions Textile, Costume & Clothing Show 62 Whiteley Gallery 8 6 Thos. K. Woodard 79 Zon International Publishing
farm • i noon 4Weekend 600 EXHIBITORS — many under tenting
June 13-14 and Sept. 5-6 Sat. 10am-6pm Sun. 9am-4pm Free parking Admission: $3.00
A national antiques event with leading dealers offering folk art, china, quilts, baskets, glass, clocks, dolls, primitives, advertising, jewelry, silver, Americana, vintage clothing, paintings, Orientalia, lighting, tools, toys, a great variety of reasonably priced country and formal furniture, and 1000's offine collectibles. Early admission Saturday 8am —$10.00
Exit 39 off 1-84, 9 miles west of Hartford Don Mackey Shows, Inc.
The #1 Buying Show in the Country.'
• ' (9i14) 763-8144 'UESIIAY-S1TNDAT 10:00-5:30; •
SPRING :SOUTH SALE4, NY. 10590
Folk Art of the Twentieth Century • You Make It with Your Mind: The Art of Edgar Tolson • Bessie Harvey: The Spirit in the Wood • Rediscover...
Published on Nov 26, 2013
Folk Art of the Twentieth Century • You Make It with Your Mind: The Art of Edgar Tolson • Bessie Harvey: The Spirit in the Wood • Rediscover...