Page 1

The Museum of American Folk Art New York City


Pictorial appliquéd summer spread Found in Long Branch, New Jersey. Circa 1880-1900. 71" x 85".

KELTER-MALCE

A•N•T•I•Q•U•E• S 361 Bleecker St / New York City 10014 / 212-989-6760


17 East 96th Street, New York, New York 10128. (212) 348-5219 Hours: 2 pm to 6 pm daily plus by appointment


E AND JOEL KOPP

MERICA*HURRAH 766 MADISON AVENUE • NEW YORK, N.Y. 10021 • 212-535-1930

Pictorial Applique, homespun wool and natural dyes. New York State c. 1840. 71" x 75"

THE BEST IN AMERICAN FOLK TEXTILES


KENNETH & IDA MANKO P.O. BOX 20. MOODY,MAINE 04054. 207-646-2595

QUALITY AMERICAN FOLK ART

3


Martin Ramirez Untitled, ca. 1954. Colored pencil and crayon on paper. 55" x 501 / 2"

In 1970 the Janet Fleisher Gallery began its commitment to the exhibition and promotion of 20th Century SelfTaught American Artists. This commitment has been our main focus since then and has brought about such ground-breaking shows as, "Artists in Institutions" in 1976, and most recently, "Drawings; Paintings; Monuments; Traylor, Pippin, Edmondson". We have also presented one-person shows of Sister Gertrude Morgan, Howard Finster, William Hawkins,and Elijah Pierce. We wish to purchase major works of traditional and non-traditional American Art.

Janet Fleisher GALLERY 211 South 17th Street PHILADELPHIA PA 1 9 1 0 3 215•545•7562 4


K 1

RoRART E.

EAST HAMPTON, NEW YORK BY APPOINTMENT TELEPHONE (516) 537-0779 •, •

MAILING ADDRESS PO. .1014, WAINSCOTT: NEW YORK 11975

1Pkt. 1 it


cAMERICAN cANTIQUES &QUILTS BLANCHE GREENSTEIN • THOS. K. WOODARD • 835 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, N.Y 10021 •(212)988-2906

Starburst pieced quilt. Circa 1890. 87 x 88 inches.

We are always interested in purchasing exceptional quilts and Americana, collections or individual pieces. Photographs returned prompt/y.


THE CLARION Er11,4.. I AMERICA'S FOLK ART MAGAZINE The Museum of American Folk Art New York City

Summer 1988

Volume 13, No. 3

FEATURES

John Michael Vlach

PLAIN PAINTERS

29

Chuck Rosenak

NAVAJO POTTERY

34

A New Twist on an Old Tradition Meredith Tromble and John Turner

STRIDING OUT ON THEIR OWN

40

Folk Art and Northern California Artists Willa S. Rosenberg

MALCAH ZELDIS

48

Her Life Henry Niemann

MALCAH ZELDIS

49

Her Art DEPARTMENTS

MINIATURES

14

DIRECTOR'S LETTER

19

LETTERS

20

BOOK REVIEWS

54

MAJOR DONORS

60

NEW MEMBERSHIP

62

MUSEUM NEWS

64

INDEX TO ADVERTISERS

72

Cover: Young dancer at the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade held annually on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Costumes from this parade are part of the exhibition "City Folk: Ethnic Traditions in the Metropolitan Area;' presented by the Museum of American Folk Art from June 13 to September 9,1988, at the PaineWebber Art Gallery, 1285 Avenue of the Americas, New York City. Photo by ID Marilyn Nance 1988. Hand-tinting by Paula Hible and Faye H. Eng. The Clarion is published four times a year by the Museum of American Folk Art, 444 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10016; 212/481-3080. Annual subscription rate for members is included in membership dues. Copies are mailed to all members. Single copy $4.50. Published and copyright 1988 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


ROBERT E NICHOLS Santa Fe American Indian Art and Country Antiques

AUGUST 1988 TRADITION & INNOVATION NAVAJO TEXTILES & PUEBLO POTTERY

THE CLARION

Didi Barrett, Editor and Publisher Faye H. Eng, Anthony T. 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, Controller Lillian Grossman, Assistant to the Director Mary Ziegler, Administrative Assistant Barry Gallo, Reception Jerry Torrens, Manager, Mailroom and Maintenance

Collections & Exhibitions Elizabeth Warren, Curator Michael McManus,Director ofExhibitions Ann-Marie Reilly, Registrar Dawn A. Giegerich, Assistant Registrar Stacy C. Hollander, Assistant Curator ofCollections Joyce Hill, Senior Research Curator Mary Black, Consulting Curator Departments Didi Barrett, Director ofPublications Beth Bergin, Membership Director Marie S. DiManno, Director ofMuseum Shops Susan Flamm, Public Relations Director Barbara W. Kaufman-Cate, Director ofEducation Johleen Nester, Director ofDevelopment Edith Wise, Director ofLibrary Services Janey Fire, Photographic Services

Navajo Indian, Germantown, circa 1900. 84" x

July 2-10, 1988 PIECED ART:SANTA FE IMPRESSIONS by Karen Gallogly October 1-10, 1988 SOUTHWEST VISIONS: POTTERY BY TOM DICKERSON 419 Canyon Road,Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 (505)982-2145 8

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, Coordinator, New York University Program Cathy Rasmussen,Director, Great American Quilt Festival 2 Karla Friedlich, Coordinator, Great American Quilt Festival 2 Irma J. Shore, Director, Access to Art Cecilia K. Toth, Kennetha R. Stewart, Co-Chairs, Friends Committee Jill Rigby, Exhibitions Previews Coordinator Susan Moore,Junior League Liaison Mary Linda Zonana, Coordinator, Docent Programs Museum Shop Staff Caroline Hohenrath, Sally O'Day, Rita Pillitt, Managers Judy Baker, Sheila Carlisle, Elizabeth Cassidy, Florence Cohen, Rick Conant, Annette Ellis, Dorothy Gargiulo, Elli Gordon, Karen Johnson, Eleanor Katz, Annette Levande, Victor Levant, Arlene Levey, Katie McAuliffe, Nancy Mayer, Theresa Naglack, Pat Pancer, Marie Peluso, Myra Shaskan, Rose Silece, Claire Spiezio, Doris Stack, Mary Walmsly, Maura Walsh, Gina Westby, Doris Wolfson. Museum of American Folk Art Book and Gift Shop 62 West 50th Street New York, NY 10112 212/247-5611 The Clarion


ROGER•R•RICCO FRANK•MARESCA AMER

CAN

ART•

We are pleased to announce the opening of our new gallery. We specialize in and wish to purchase outsider art, 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 or chance, 212• 505•1463 212•673• 1078.

Exceptional Pair of braced sheet iron weathervanes, Millersville, Pennsylvania ca.1865-70. Eachfish 30" W x 12/ 1 2H,rods 76"H Complete history and documentation available to purchaser.


•A A A A A

4 4 4

MilllITINO V V V V VV

MELISSA STERN September 8-October 2

2241 FILLMORE ST. SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA 94115 415.563.0505

"Young Girl," 1987, glazed ceramic and paint, 21" high

outiider Art July 29 - Aug 8 Catalog available

!Alt Folk Art 410 Fine Art

Sailor's Valentine Gallery A visual story of the fanciful and the fantastic as told by from left to right 1.DAVID SUTLER,"Monkey Riding Garfish", Enamel on roofing tin, 2.MARY T. SMITH,"Family", Enamel on plywood, 3.HOWARD FINSTER, "Antonio Pollaitto", Acrylic on board, 4.JAMES "SON" THOMAS,"Fish Chasing Minnow", Unfired delta clay, enamel, wire, 5.JAMES "SON"THOMAS,"George Washington", Unfired delta clay, marbles, raw cotton.

Presented in cooperation with Gilley's Gallery, Baton Rouge, LA

38 & 40 Centre St Nantucket, MA 02554 (617)228-2011 After July 16(508) 228-2011


CLEMENTINE HUNTER LOUISIANA PRIMATIVE ARTIST (1886-1988)

"ZINNIAS" 24' x 36'

GILLEY6

CALIMY R

A

ME

S

CATALOG AVAILABLE 8750 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, La. 70815 (504)926-4930

7520 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge, La. 70808 (504) 767-0526

Also Representing: David Butler, Rev. Howard Finster, Juanita Rogers, Mary T. Smith, Henry Speller, James "Son Ford" Thomas, Chief Willey, and Luster Willis.


MARNA ANDERSON

american folk art in new york city • by appointment • 212 945-8484

12


CONTEMPORARY

DAVID BUTLER

SOUTHERN FOLK ART Representing: David Butler Rev. Howard Finster Clementine Hunter Sr. Gertrude Morgan and other important Southern artists

GASPERI GALLERY 831 St Peter Street New Orleans, LA 70116 (504)524-9373

"Snake with Dragon Tail," enamel on tin, 1986, 7" x 23"

Artworks by David Butler and other Southern folk artists can be seen at CLARK GALLERY, Lincoln, MA September 6th to September 30th.

SOUTHERN VISIONARIES September 6-30

DAVID BUTLER REV HOWARD FINSTER CLEMENTINE HUNTER J. P. SCOTT JIMMIE LEE SUDDUTH MOSE TOLLIVER AND OTHERS J. P. Scott, Big King, mixed media, 1977, 30"h x 40"I x 15"w

At:

A special collaboration with:

ClarkGallery

GASPERI FOLK ART GALLERY

P.O. Box 339 Lincoln Station Lincoln, MA 01773 (617) 259-8303

831 St. Peter Street New Orleans, LA 70116 (504) 524-9373

13


MINIATURES

wsssiefitkititiok 4cnosbup "Everyday Beauty: The Decoration of Useful Objects" explores the inspiration and impact of ornamentation on useful objects with more than 100 artifacts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, at Fenimore House,Cooperstown, NY, (607/547-2533) through October...

Chest, circa 1820, exhibiting everyday beauty and included in the Cooperstown exhibit

The High Museum exhibition includes Wisemen on a Camel;David Butler; Circa 1973;Pierced and painted tin with applied trinkets; 290 x 310"

The work of nine black women folk artists, including Minnie Evans, Clementine Hunter, Sr. Gertrude Morgan and Bessie Harvey will be featured in the exhibition "Women of Vision: Black American Folk Artists" from July15 through August 28, 1988 at the Aetna Institute Gallery, Hartford, CT... •

Paintings by Joshua Johnson, the portrait painter, will be included in "Sharing Traditions: Five Black Artists in Nineteenth Century America;' at the Queens Museum, New York City, from July 1 through August 23, 1988. The stop is the last in a three year tour from the collection of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC... • American Antique Basketry — more than 40 examples noted for design craftsmanship and beauty — will be on display until August 28, 1988 at the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, PA ... • Tracing the impact of play and play activities on New York City is the innovative City Play at the Museum of the City of New York, through February 12, 1989. Organized in association with City Lore, Inc., The New York Folklore Society and 14

Visit the Queens Museum's exhibition and view Catherine Anne Bowen;Joshua Johnson; Circa 1830; Oil on canvas;260 x 21W; Gift of Norman Robbins

the Queens Council on the Arts, the exhibition commemorates the centennial of the American Folklore Society... •

Family quilts are featured in

"Labor of Love ... Family Quilts Past, Present and Future:' from June 23 to August 14, 1988 at the New England Quilt Museum, 256 Market Street, Lowell, MA... • "Outside the Mainstream: Folk Art in Our Time" will be pre-

akitt 44oup 4etoc4tes The California-based American Quilt Study Group has opened new national headquarters at 833 Market Street, Suite 620, San Francisco, CA 94103 (tel. 415/495-0163). Publishers of the annual Uncoverings, the group supports research into an "accurate history of quilts and their makers!' According to Ex-

sented through August 12, 1988 at the High Museum at GeorgiaPacific Center, 133 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA. Focusing on the art of the Southeastern United States, the exhibition includes works by some 50 contemporary self-taught artists including David Butler, Rev. Howard Finster, Ulysses Davis, and Bill Traylor. Hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission is free... •

ecutive Director Candice McCann, "Our basic aim is to collect all kinds of information that will be of use to quilt and textile researchers now and in the future. This move enables us to serve more people better!' Office hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or by appointment.

The 32-piece antique quilt collection of the Kedron Valley Inn, South Woodstock, VT,will be open to the public for the first time on Sunday afternoons in June, July and August. Many of the quilts are family heirlooms; most are documented with pictures and information on the makers. For further information call 802/456-1473. The Clarion


GTM

MINIATURES

Ike 44446 4estel4tioN More than mere guardians ofthe past, elderly Americans, as evidenced by the new exhibition and illustrated catalogue "The Grand Generation;' represent a vital, creative, productive segment of society. Rather than

living in the past, older people, as this ground-breaking project shows, use their art, stories and life skills to rise to the challenge of advancing years, recycling

Papier-mache sculpture by John Hartter

Farm and Home Memories Quilt by Ina Hackett Grant;1939-1946

apa.gese Papa )ott$ A demonstration and exhibition of paper and doll making by members of Tokyo's Yamato Ohtori Washi Doll Society will be held at the Japan Society Gallery, 333 East 47 Street, New York City, from July 18 through July 22,1988, noon to 5 p.m. The craft tradition involves an intricate version of woodblock printing, followed by the

Sculptural doll can be found at the Japan Society Gallery

Summer 1988

formation of remarkable sculptural dolls. Some 50 dolls will be displayed along with a miniature Kabuki theater. For further information contact the Japan Society Gallery at 212/832-1155.

their memories into a mature vision of life in the present. An exhibition ofthe Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, "The Grand Generation" will be at the Jacksonville Museum of Art and Science, Jacksonville, FL through August 14, 1988; State University College, Potsdam, NY from September 3 to October 2, 1988; Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ from October 22 to November 20, 1988; and Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI from December 10, 1988 to January 8, 1989.

Lo 446 13eltotb: Exttititioos aub yospositas An exhibition entitled "Lo and Behold: Visionary Art in the Post Modern Era" will run from September 4 through November 6, 1988, at the Edith C. Blum Art Institute, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Included in the exhibition are such artists as St. EOM, Rev. Howard Finster, Clarence Schmidt, Alex Maldonado, Malcah Zeldis and Martin Ramirez. A day-long symposium, scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 1988, will feature speakers Didi Barrett, Director of Publications, Museum of American Folk Art; author Tom Patterson, The Jargon Society; artist Skip Schuckman; William Lipke, University of Vermont; Gregg Blasdel, St. Michael's College; Randall Morris, author and co-director of Cavin-Morris, Inc.; and Seymour Rosen, Director of SPACES. Registration is $15. For further information contact The Edith C. Blum

Art Institute; The Bard College Center; Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504(tel. 914/758-6822).

Coutesspowy fotk At.t Dialogue:An Art Journal, Published by Opportunities for the Arts, in Columbus, Ohio, is devoting a special section to contemporary American folk art in the July-August 1988 issue. Included are articles on Columbus artist Will Hawkins; collecting and dealing; the role of art museums in collecting contemporary work by selftaught artists; and a model for state awareness of and support for artists working outside the mainstream. The publication is available from Opportunities For the Arts,772 N. High, Suite 207;P.O. Box 2572; Columbus, OH 43216-2572. 15


/ 4 Behind the Mask in Mexico A major exhibition on the traditions of masked festivals in six Mexican villages June 19, 1988 through June 1990 MUSEUM OF INTERNATIONAL FOLK ART Santa Fe, New Mexico 505-827-8350 Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the International Folk Art Foundation A full color catalog is available from the Museum of New Mexico Press, PO Box 2087, Santa Fe, NM 87504, 505-827-6455

MINIATURES

goase eaio goose "House and Home" is the topic of a conference and related house tour to be held by The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, in conjunction with the Program in American and New England Studies, Boston University, from July 15 to July 17, 1988 at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. Focusing on domestic life in New England and the American northeast prior to 1870, the conference will examine attitudes toward housekeeping and household work; patterns in domestic management and technology; home industries; home interiors; tenancy patterns; 16

boardinghouse life; women's work; and domestic service. A special section will explore new directions in the interpretation

of period rooms and historic house museums. For registration or further information contact Peter Benes, Director, The

Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife; 249 Harrington Avenue, Concord, MA 01742; tel. 617/369-7382.

ing up to $500 for graduate students wishing to study grassroots art environments for their masters' theses or doctoral dissertations. Application deadline for the 1988-89 academic year is August 1, 1988. Funds may be spent on travel, film,

video or audio taping, processing, reproduction of materials or other costs associated with documentation. For further information contact the Kansas Grassroots Art Association, P.O. Box 221, Lawrence, KS 66044.

444s000ts Aoit lettowskip The Kansas Grassroots Art Association, a non-profit agency dedicated to preserving and documenting environments built by untrained artists and builders who work outside the conventions of fine art and the traditions of folk art, is award-


A Chalkware figure of a cat, Pennsylvania, 19th Century. To be sold at Christie's New York on June 4, 1988.

Folk Art at Christie's Christie's specialists discovered this work of art. The owners discovered the advantages of being a Christie's folk art client. Every year, Christie's hold three major auctions of American furniture and folk art, attracting buyers from across the country. Record prices have been set for decoys, needlework pictures and primitive paintings. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you. For more information about buying and selling American folk art at auction, contact John Hays, Head of American Folk Art, at 502 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Tel: 212/546-1181.

CHRISTIE'S NEW YORK 17


Queen Anne blanket chest over drawerson-frame, Attributed to Isaiah Tiffany (1723-1806), Lebanon, Connecticut, Circa 1750. White pine and cherrywood, with original blue paint. 1 2 inches. / 2 x 17/ 52 x 341 Illustrated Dean A. Fales, Jr., American Painted Furniture 1660-1880, 1972 edition, on the back cover of the dust jacket.

DAVID A. SCIIORSCII ,I.00a 18

1037 NORTH STREET, GREENWICH, CT 06831 203-869-8797 30 EAST 76TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10021 212-439-6100


!In

LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR DR. ROBERT BISHOP

In my previous Director's Letter I wrote of the establishment of the Eva and Morris Feld Gallery, the permanent branch of the Museum of American Folk Art currently under construction at Lincoln Square, directly across the street from the entrance to Lincoln Center. This facility marks the first phase of the realization of the Museum's long-range development goals. I am now pleased to announce exciting new information regarding the development of our permanent home at 45-55 West 53rd Street. The Museum has long been associated with West 53rd Street, its exhibition location for over twenty years. During the years the Museum has acquired six adjoining properties on 53rd Street, including the building in which its galleries were formerly located. This block, which includes the Museum of Modern Art, has been designated the Midtown Museum District because of the many distinguished cultural organizations located there. The development of these properties will enable the Museum to establish a permanent home among other outstanding arts organizations at its traditional site. The Museum's 53rd Street properties have recently been vacated by the last tenant. Demolition of the existing inadequate structures is pending, and planning is now under way for the construction of a multi-use 22-story building, which will include museum facilities of approximately 51,000 square feet. When completed, these new facilities will contain exhibition galleries, library, education center, offices, and other needed space. The Museum of American Folk Art is justifiably proud of the many ways in which it has continued to expand the dimensions of the folk art field. The institution was originally chartered as the Museum of Early American Folk Art in 1961. After a few years of experience in building a permanent collection and presenting exhibitions, it became apparent that this focus was too Summer 1988

Festa;Ralph Fasanella;1957;Oil on canvas;40x 36";Collection ofGina Fasanella Mostrando;from the exhibition "City Folk:Ethnic Traditions in the Metropolitan Area'

narrow. We petitioned the New York Board of Regents to allow the name of the Museum to be changed, thus reflecting the broadening interest in all the folk arts. This petition was granted October 28, 1966. It was then that we became known as the Museum of American Folk Art. Innovative curators such as Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., one of the first to concern himself with twentieth century material, significantly altered the perception of American folk art by mounting exhibitions such as "Tattoo!;' "The Occult;' and "Twentieth Century Folk Art:' Gerard C. Wertkin, Assistant Director of the Museum of American Folk Art, has expanded the areas of the Museum's traditional emphasis one step further in the exhibition, "City Folk: Ethnic Traditions in the Metropolitan Areas;' which he organized for presentation at the PaineWebber Gallery in New York City from June 13 to

September 9, 1988. In preparation for this exhibition he communicated with more than 200 organizations representing scores of ethnic groups now living in the metropolitan New York area. His field work took him not only to the cultural and arts centers of these various communities, but to review the work of individual artists, as well. "City Folk" was organized around four interrelated themes that were selected to introduce major aspects of ethnic folklife in the Metropolitan area: Faith/Ritual; Celebration/Performance; Work/Craft; and People/Memories. The exhibition represents the first in a series of projected explorations by the Museum of American Folk Art on this theme. The Museum is deeply indebted to Donald B. Marron, Chairman of the Board of the PaineWebber Group Inc., as well as to the professional staff of the PaineWebber Art Gallery for making that presentation possible. 19


LETTERS

MAYORAL WELCOME 1 share in your delight over the much-heralded establishment of your new museum gallery — we are all the beneficiaries of your taking a prominent place in the cultural landscape of our City. All the best. Edward I. Koch Mayor New York, NY

LABORS OF LOVE

THE

AMES GALLERY OF AMERICAN

FOLK ART

2661 Cedar Street Berkeley, California 94708 415/845-4949 • We specialize in exceptional 18th —19th Century handmade objects. Our extensive selection of quilts, carved canes, tramp art, folk paintings and sculpture are available for viewing. Phone for exhibit information, hours or appointment.

• 20

Like those who write books, those who review them should have their own point of view. Margaret Vincent, who reviewed our book Labors ofLove in the Spring 1988 issue (Vol. 13, No. 2), makes it clear that her viewpoint is that of the textile scholar, someone whose primary interest is in the history of the textile object itself. While we,too, are concerned with identifying the textiles and needlework pictured and discussed in this recent book, our interest extends to their social and cultural history, as well. We view the pieces in the context in which they were created and used, exploring their importance in the lives of the women who made them. Since the 1970s, with the women's movement influencing the way all academic disciplines approach their subjects, any study of women's art that divorces it from its context can only be seen as both dated and narrow. Vincent suggests that our title, Labors ofLove, is evidence that we "accept without question the myth of the happy,

preindustrial woman!'In fact, in the chapter on quilts we point out that for many children stitching the required piece of patchwork was both unpleasant and burdensome. Additionally, in the early needlework chapter, we note that while some women found plain sewing soothing and restful, others found it "horribly tedious:' Certainly for many women, spinning, weaving, or working with needle and thread must have been plain, hard work. It is difficult to believe, however, that most of the beautiful, carefully wrought needlework we picture was created by anything other than the most loving labor. Some authors uncover new facts and disprove old ones; others synthesize and expand the knowledge base laid down by earlier scholars. In the last five decades, since the publication in 1938 of Georgiana Brown Harbeson's American Needlework, a great deal of new information has emerged on American textiles and needlework. It is that wealth of information that we have attempted to organize and present in the belief that synthesis is as valid as discovery. Like Vincent, we would also encourage our readers to seek out the works in our bibliography — the letters, biographies, diaries, and the excellent secondary sources, as well. Judith Reiter Weissman Wendy Lavitt New York, NY

FINE TUNING ON HAWKINS I enjoyed very much the current Spring 1988 (Vol. 13, No. 2) issue of The Clarion. N.F. Kar-


LETTERS

fins' article "American Folk Art in Corporate Collections:' was of particular interest to me. Concerning the work of William L. Hawkins, however, there does need to be some"fine tuning" in this piece. For example, the dimensions for Hawkins' monumental Statue of Liberty are given as "48 x 96" inches. My inventory of Hawkins' work lists 60 x 84'; excluding the extension of the flag off the top border. Hawkins typically uses increments of commercial panelling for his paintings. Here, a standard 48 x 96 sheet of masonite has had a foot "clipped" off an end, and Hawkins added a one by seven foot masonite extension across the top edge. The "seam"ofthis extension is clearly visible in the photograph. Next, it is probably more

accurate to describe this painting as "enamel and found objects on panel:'(or "masonite"), not "on wood:' Also, the statement "a black artist who began painting when he was in his eighties:' is incorrect. By his own account, and that of his family, William L. Hawkins has been painting and drawing most of his life, beginning with his childhood in Kentucky. Hawkins affirms that he made and sold paintings to neighbors and acquaintances as early as the 1930s and 40s. So far as I know, though, none of these have survived. The footnote notes that Hawkins came to Columbus at age 23. Age 21 is correct. Finally, I will be curating an exhibition of the paintings and drawings of William L. Hawkins at the Tarble Arts Center, tentatively scheduled for February/March of 1989. So far as I know, this will be the first time that drawings by William Hawkins have been shown anywhere. We are hoping to publish a catalogue for this exhibition; whether or not funds will be available for such a publication will be known by this summer. Gary J. Schwindler Athens, OH

"Myth 3 - Guilt?"

Rabinov 1966

12" x 18" Enamel

DOUBLE Irk GALLERY •AMERICAN FOLK ART / VINTAGE DESIGN •

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 Aielille South, New York, New York 10016. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

7280% Fountain Avenue W. Hollywood, CA 90046 213/874-0248 By Appointment Only

21


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Center Diamond

Tee Glet44 Qoa4

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LATIN AMERICAN & HAITIAN FOLK ART

LL cA_> •

First Edition Quilts Amish Quilts from Lancaster County

'I

285 West Broadway New York, New York 10013

,tor-

-10

,t—fk

4We have a large selection ofbeaded Voodoo flags

110. • , Atk, -1.>-

Tumbling Blocks

GUATEMALAN TAPESTRY BLANKETS from Momostenango, the Wool Pueblo Thurs., July 7 - Sat., September 11

Through our ties to the Amish in Lancaster County, we commission contemporary quilts in traditional designs. Call 212-966-1863 for an appointment.

ISAIAHS: PINTOR DE LA BROCHA GRANDE The Artist, Isaiah Zagar, in collaboration with folk artists of Latin America Thurs., September 15 - Sun., October 16 131 SPRING STREET • NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10012 A (212)131-0111 IIIIIIIIIIII


PHYLLIS HADERS ANTIQUE QUILTS

"Eagle" Quilt Pennsylvania, circa 1890. 88 x 88 inches

Stonington, Connecticut 06378 By Appointment (203)535-2585

American Folk Art Sidney Gecker 226 West 21st Street New York, N.Y. 10011

(212)929-8769 Appointment suggested

Pair of miniature Spatter Pea Fowl Sugar Bowls; 4 inches, tip to tip of handle, 2% inches high.


Thomas Langan.Sow cedar...24'1 x21

T.P LANGAN american folk art gallery Tues.- Sat 11-5

92 Forest Avenue • Locust Valley,New York 11560 •(516)671 5875

MAIN STREET ANTIQUES and ARTPRINERNtoit ,

Colleen and Louis Picek

I \\\ NO 4 1Z.1

Folk Art and Country Americana

c.o.Ia.F.

....-.• .-:-:-:•.

'(Q

(319)643-2065 110 West Main, Box 340 West Branch, Iowa 52358

NlaAk$iier .441... 400t.,..

On Interstate 80

Send a self-addressed stamped envelope for our monthly Folk Art and Americana price list

24

.

Y

A few interesting items of old fraternal order memorabilia.


PAT GUTHMAN ANTIQUES 281 PEQUOT AVENUE•SOUTHPORT•CT•06490

TEL •203-259-5743 TUESDAY—SATURDAY:10 AM-5 PM

ANTIQUES AND ACCESSORIES FOR THE KITCHEN AND KEEPING ROOM from America,England and the Continent

Our gallery is featuring an exhibition, beginning April 22nd, of contemporary Folk Art by Stephen Huneck which includes furniture and sculpture of animals

BRIGITTe• SCHwoeR

oaLLeRvi

PRIMITIVE, FOLK & ESKIMO ART

Mike Rodriguez: Cats, cottonwood and paint, 11"x 14"

(formerly Arctic Art) David Alvarez Leroy Archuleta Dewey Blocksma David Butler Howard Finster Manuel Jimenez Mark Kluck 'Rpm May Joe McAlister Constance Roberts Mike Rodriguez Mose Tolliver

929 BROADWAY • DENVER, CO 80203 303 - 825 - 8555

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CONTEMPORARY FOLK ART

314 OCCIDENTAL AVE S TUES-SAT

98104 11-5:30

206/467-8283 SUNDAY 1-5

GALLERY

William E. Potts, carved and painted wood, 18"h x 18"w x 18"cl

219 King Avenue

Columbus, Ohio

43201

Twentieth Century, American, Outsider, & Folk Art

Elijah Pierce: Carved wood,4 of 18, approx. 2" Ht., circa 1930

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614 • 294 • 7380


EPSTEIN/POWELL Jesse Aaron Steve Ashby Peter Charlie William Dawson Charlie Dieter Mr. Eddy Antonio Esteves Howard Finster Victor Joseph Gatto (Estate) Clementine Hunter S.L. Jones Justin McCarthy Sister Gertrude Morgan Emma Lee Moss Inez Nathaniel Old Ironsides Pry Nellie Mae Rowe Jack Savitsky Clarence Stringfield Mose Tolliver Luster Willis and others

330 S3V4dr 0 PpO3 0104d

22 Wooster St., New York, N.Y. 10013 By Appointment(212)226-7316

Guadalcanal

Vic:tor jOseph Gat to mi Canvas) (25" n U.

AMERICAN FOLK AND OUTSIDER ART BY APPOINTMENT

834 B WESTMOUNT DRIVE LOS ANGELES CA 90069 213 . 657 . 6369

WALKING STICKS BY THOMAS MAY

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Circus carving of a panther. Length 42 inches

AMERICAN PRIMITIVE GALLERY Mon.-Fri. 10 a.M.-5:30 p.m.or by appt. Aarne Anton (212)239-1345 242 West 30th St., N.Y., N.Y. 10001

IN ADDITION TO OUR GALLERY OF EARLY AMERICAN FOLK ART WE OFFER COMPLETE SERVICES IN THE DISPLAY AND MOUNTING OF FOLK AND PRIMITIVE SCULPTURE. BASES IN METAL, WOOD AND LUCITE ARE INDIVIDUALLY DESIGNED TO DISPLAY YOUR WORKS OF ART. SERVING DEALERS, COLLECTORS, AND MUSEUMS. WE SHIP NATIONWIDE.

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PLAIN PAINTERS Folklorists have long argued against the use by museum curators and collectors of the terms"folk painting" or"folk portraiture" to refer to a genre of "non-academic" American paintings produced in communities, largely in the Northeast, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although,over the years, this criticism has appeared regularly in the writings of folklorists dealing with material culture, no one has offered alternative terminology for what has consistently been recognized as a distinct genre of American art. In the forthcoming book Plain Painters: Making Sense of American Folk Art, folklorist John Michael Vlach offers a new entry into the term warfare that preoccupies so many students of this field. In this excerpt Vlach lays out his arguments. The Clarion welcomes the comments of readers to this new look at an old topic.

BY JOHN MICHAEL VLACH The passion for American folk art which first seized collectors early in this century was accompanied by a confusing rhetoric. Folk art has proved difficult to define because it has been described in contradictory terms. For example, it was said to be both unsophisticated and skilled. Folk art was frequently claimed to be the equal of modem fine art and yet said to indicate a "regression to childhood!' Even its staunchest advocate, Holger Cahill, admitted that it was only a "second-rate" kind of art, while asserting that folk art was "the oldest, most pervasive art expression we know about:" Paradoxically, folk art was said to be good because of its flaws. According to Alice Ford the folk artist was judged "not on the basis of the talent he possessed but upon what he accomplished in spite of all he lacked!" The public thus was told to accept as virtuosic a level of performance normally considered inept and perhaps artless. It is no wonder, then, that standards for defining and evaluating American folk art have been vague and difficult to determine. Matters were not made any clearer by the sort of works put forward as trustworthy examples of folk expression. Paintings — mainly portraits — domi-

Portrait of Mary Abba Woodworth; Joseph Whiting Stock;1837; Oil on canvas;48/ 1 4"; 1 4x 33/ Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts, Gift of Dr. William Barni Kirkham.

Summer 1988

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nated most early collections and exhibitions, as they do now. Given the elite origins of easel painting, these pictures are a strange choice. The oil painting, particularly the framed portrait, was invented in northern Europe during the fifteenth century to serve the interests of the ruling class; only the powerful and wealthy could afford one Determined by elite tastes and intended to confirm restricted class boundaries, such works of art are the opposite of folk expression. The members of a folk group, defined as a relatively small community of like-minded people bonded by shared concerns for ethnicity, religion, place, or occupation, tend not to need or be impressed by works of art in the studio tradition. In elite society, virtuoso artists challenge accepted conventions with their personal and novel insights. Creation in folk groups tends to foster connection through the sharing of familiar experiences, but among the elite it tends to establish hierarchy and separation by the promotion of unique experience. Presenting paintings as typical folk expressions, then, completely overturns the meaning of the term folk. American folk artists have been viewed not only as the inept artists but also as thorough individualists pursuing the ideals of studio-derived art to the best of their limited abilities. While derivative art of this sort is not without interest, it is certainly misleading to describe it, as have so many folk art commentators, in terms of its alleged honesty, vigor, and strength0 The extensive confusion that characterizes folk art commentary arises mainly from collecting the wrong things for the wrong reasons. If one really wants to understand folk art, it makes little sense to study amateur easel paintings because they seem to resemble modernist canvases Yet this is the dominant rationale employed in the evaluation of American folk art, and it has resulted in raising negative stereotypes to the level of accepted dogma. If American folk art is ever to be judged 30

Mr. Day; Ammi Phillips; Circa 1835; Oil on 4 x 28"; Collection of the National 1 canvas; 32/ Gallery ofArt, Washington, D.C.; Gift ofEdgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch.

on its own merits rather than as the crude, country imitation of fine art, its definition must be rethought and scholarly attention must focus on pertinent art forms — on those expressions which actually stem from tradition rooted in folk societies. In this process so-called folk paintings will have to be reexamined, and ultimately much of what is called folk art painting must be removed from the current list of certified folk genres. In 1942 James Thomas Flexner outlined useful criteria for identifying three classes of painted pictures commonly considered to be works of folk art. Artisan painting, he suggested, consisted of pictures by professionals who had only slight training, while amateur painting was done by nonprofessionals for personal pleasure. Folk painting was a category reserved for artworks like the frakturs of the Pennsylvania Germans or the rosemaling by Norwegian immigrants; these expressions were grounded in local custom and passed down generation to generation by shared experience. Artisan and amateur paintings, by contrast, were allied to studio work? Thus

only a small portion of the vast body of folk collectibles logically could be defended as folk paintings. Derivative forms of fine art, Flexner cautioned, were not to be mistaken for the product of the folk tradition. Writing about the problems of folk painting again in 1950, Flexner claimed that folk art enthusiasts were driven by chauvinism. Consequently, they had a deep emotional need to coin their own version of history constituting works of folk art as "unique products of the American soil!' Flexner's tripartite scheme, which recognized the connection of supposed folk painting to studio practice, thus was ignored by folk art collectors. Even museums failed to heed his warning that "Everyday it is becoming more clear that most landscape and genre scenes by amateur and artisan painters are copies, close or free, of conventional originals, often European in origin!" By 1951, even Cahill, chief architect of and prominent spokesperson for collector tastes, sought to define folk painting. Following the lead of art historian Virgil Barker, he separated folk painting into artisan and amateur categories. The artisan group included professionals who worked with some awareness of studio practice for either the style or the content of their canvases. Amateurs were inspired by personal motives and showed only the slightest influence of academic conventions in their work. Significantly, Cahill noted,"not all amateurs are folk artists" because folk art must appeal to a "people's sense of community:' Folk art was a "function not so much of the genius or rare individual giving his vision to the community as it was of the community or congregation itself!' Consequently he implied that much of what had previously been claimed as folk painting was, in fact, misattributed. * * * My solution to the problem of terminology is the label plain painting? This phrase has several advantages. First, it The Clarion


Mr% 1 1

FLAWED OR FLOWERING? The paintings that ended up in middle-class homes in the first half of the nineteenth century, the period sometimes characterized "the flowering of American folk art;' are today much prized by collectors and purchased at auctions for thousands of dollars!' Usually described as having originality, vigor, and variety, these works are considered to represent the artistic productions of the common person in America. All the effort expended in praising the aesthetic features of reputed folk paintings has deflected attention away from the opinions of this work expressed by contemporary nineteenthcentury observers. The most common adjective used then was wretched. It would seem more appropriate then, to regard these works as evidence of a failure at fine art. To say that this was less than fine art is not to say that it reflects what can correctly be termed a folk aesthetic; it was simply flawed work whose errors were excused. No quantity of high-toned adjectives can ever change the fact that this body of pictures contains numerous mistakes in design and execution. It is deceptive to argue that they are original when they were often copies, that they are innovative when they are in fact inept, and that they show variety when they are replete with redundancy. Referring to such attempts at painting as the equal of the greatest academic paintings can lead only to further confusion regarding the significance of this popular mode of art!' Plain painting, though fraught with deficiencies, possesses an interesting history that will only fall further from sight if this sort of art continues to receive ecstatic adoration. Plain paintings were works of art that were sometimes sold to the common folk, not art created by them. J.M V.

is a new term and hence does not suffer from the contamination of previous abuse and misrepresentation. Second, it does not carry a pejorative connotation, as do the terms primitive or naive; rather, it projects a modest but meritorious image that neither demeans this class of painting nor confers on it an undeserved prestige. Third, the term plain accords with what most commentators have said about folk painting, namely that it is similar to fine art but at the same time intriguingly different. What they have struggled to describe is this: in the paintings generally labeled as folk the conventions of fine art are present but not fully deployed. The net result is a work like fine art but simpler, less ostentatious; it is a plain version of what potentially could have been quite elaborate or complex under different circumstances. Plain paintings might seem limited and thus lacking in sophistication, but as most connoisseurs have recognized, plainness has a power, too, an appeal of another sort. Finally, Summer 1988

the adjective plain is a homonym for the word plane, meaning surface. Given that folk paintings are most frequently described as pictures that

Elizabeth Billings Ashley; Erastus Salisbury Field; Circa 1825; Oil on canvas; 241 / 2 x 22/ 1 2"; Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA, The Morgan Wesson Memorial Collection.

emphasize the two-dimensional surface or plane of the canvas, the phrase plain painting fortuitously evokes both style and form. A dialect of doubletalk has been used to describe and defend folk art for almost sixty years. Objects declared to be crude, primitive, and naive are routinely accepted as charming, witty, and sincere. One finds art praised for its mistakes, artists championed for their incompetence, historical processes inverted, and critical categories rendered useless. Jane Kallir has noted recently that the very concept of folk art has become "one of negation" and that folk art is seen as "a catchall category for misfits — wallflowers at the dance of Western civilization!"° Interpreted in this way,folk art serves as a foil for fine art, as fine art's opposite. If fine art is sophisticated, then folk art must be naive; if fine art is elite, folk art must be common, and so forth. It is this inverse pairing which prevents folk art from being properly understood, for if studio-based idioms are judged as good, then folk forms grounded in social custom will be seen as bad. This study thus aims to restore to the painters of plain pictures a basis for evaluating their lives and their works fairly and accurately, in addition to clarifying the limits of American folk art. * * * In order to evaluate correctly a plain painting, or any painting for that matter, it is necessary to understand an artist's technique. Such features as faulty perspective or anatomy, limited palette, lack of contrast, or overall two-dimensionality are generally taken as signs of plain painting!' But the most important question regarding these traits ofexecution is whether the artist produced them deliberately or accidentally. The answer is crucial. If, for example, an artist did not really mean to achieve a twodimensional likeness, then that trait cannot be listed as a positive feature no matter how appealing it might be to a contemporary viewer. The matter of intention bears directly on the matter 31


of competence: unless the painter intended the canvas to look as it does, then the so-called virtues of plain painting must be registered as errors or evidence of ineptitude. But how can we learn what plain painters from the past intended? One way to determine that artists meant to paint as they did is to examine a representative body of works for stylistic consistencies!' If an artist's canvases repeatedly share the same traits, one can infer that limited palette or stiff gestures were intended and not merely accidental. These features, rather than being interpreted as flaws, can be considered as choices. Caution must be used, however, because a characteristic like faulty perspective might stem from an early misstep in training that was never corrected. In such a case, a reputed feature of plainness is a mistake that has become a habit, not a facet of an alternative way of seeing. Deviations from the standards of the studio tradition can be interpreted positively only when the artist can control the conventions of both plain and studio painting; otherwise we have to conclude that the plain painter either does not know any better or cannot do any better. In neither case would we have good reason to celebrate the work of this artist as a particularly outstanding achievement. Fundamentally at issue in the evaluation of plain painting is the matter of talent. In addition to stylistic consistency, plain paintings often exhibit careful workmanship that implies skill and therefore a degree of talent. What is problematic is the level of that talent. Holger Cahill decided that, despite their virtues, American primitive painters were still second-rate artists. To draw comparisons with masters like Copley, Stuart, or Homer, he suggested, "would be foolish:' Folk painting had "peculiar charm" which arose from "what are technical deficiencies from the academic point of view:'" Cahill's judgment, moving simultaneously in two opposite directions, sets a course for further investigation. 32

Folk or plain painting is granted its own standards, but those standards are determined by studio practice. Cahill unconsciously acknowledged that painting from the fourteenth until the early twentieth centuries was concerned to a great extent with the illusion of three-dimensional reality. For many viewers the better the artist created that illusion, the higher the estimation of the artist's ability. As Joshua Taylor notes, painting of that type was"magic!'And despite the contemporary celebration of minimalist and abstract design, we still consider the illusion of three-dimensional reality a fascinating trick. To be sure, the painter does more than simply capture a photographic image of a person or place; there is much that the eye sees and a person feels that the camera cannot. But to decide if a painter is truly competent, one usually considers his or her ability to capture three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface,to render forms as they actually appear, and to reproduce colors as they occur in nature. Plain painters, it seems, generally have shortcomings with these tasks. Often when they

Man of New Bedford, MA.; William Matthew 2"; 1 2 x 9/ 1 Prior; Circa 1844; Oil on canvas; 13/ Collection of Fruitlands Museums, Harvard, MA.

command over one requirement they fail to meet others. For example, while a sitter's features may be anatomically correct, the room in which he or she is placed suffers from skewed perspective. This odd combination of skill and error is what struck Cahill and others as "charm:' But it would be better to regard such combinations as indications of a painterly process. If we can assume that plain painters, like most bearers of Western culture over the course of almost 500 years, knew that a painting was supposed to resemble what was being depicted, then any particular canvas may be interpreted as an attempt to reach that ideal. * * * Plainness in easel painting results from a low level of expertise in handling the requirements of the studio tradition. It is a trait manifested in the careers of all painters, whether they are acknowledged masters or modest dabblers. Plainness generally stems from immaturity and represents the formative period in the development of talent. For [Benjamin] West and [John Singleton] Copley this period happened to coincide with their childhood years, and hence in their cases it is correct to refer to their plain paintings as childlike. But for [Samuel F.B.] Morse it was during his late teen years that he painted in a plain style, and [Charles Willson] Peale was still a plain painter at age twenty-five. All of these artists matured far beyond their initial levels of performance — some sooner and more confidently than the others, depending on their different experiences, opportunities, and abilities. [Erastus Salisbury] Field's early works are no worse than those produced by Peale or Morse during what might be termed their apprentice phase. However, Field seems to have floundered for years trying to learn what the reputed fine artist learns relatively quickly. This difference owes more to differences in talent, artistic experiences, and social contexts than to intention. It is, then, not the nature of their works that sets The Clarion


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plain painters apart from fine artists; it is a difference in the level of mastery over the conventions of technique. Plainness in painting finally may relate most to an artist's pace in learning. Artists like West and Copley, who quickly acquired their painterly technique, easily progressed past the "primitive" stage and rarely have been viewed as anything other than fine artists. A painter like Field, however, who was very slow to master the requisite skills, for decades produced paintings that conform to the current stereotype of "folk" performance. The same could be said of John Blunt, whose portraits suggest a limited ability to capture a convincing likeness. Slow learners seem committed to qualities of plainness and therefore are often identified as plain painters. Their paintings have been understood as intentionally naive, but to come to such a conclusion one must ignore the full careers of these artists. * * * Through books, popular prints, exhibitions, public demand, or training, plain painters learned of the studio tradition. Narratives of their artistic lives reveal the earnest desire to perfect their pictures after the example of established masters. However, for a variety of reasons they were usually hindered from improving quickly, and so became competent later rather than sooner. Those who designate these painters as a distinct class of folk artist usually consider only the paintings done early in their careers and overlook evidence of subsequent improvement. Their evaluations, then, utilize only that portion of the evidence that confirms their preconceptions. There is no way to account for the existence of any easel painting without acknowledging the influence, however slight, of the academic tradition. Flexner implies as much when he writes, "Artists everywhere, even when they are in revolt, are connected with aesthetic forebears in a continuous chain of influence that goes back to the beginSummer 1988

John Michael Vlach is a professor and director of the Folldife Program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The author of numerous publications on folk art, he has served on the Folk Arts Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts and wrote the book Plain Painters while National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Winterthur Museum.

Mary Jenney Borden; Attributed to John S. Blunt; Circa 1835; Oil on canvas; 33 x 27/ 1 2"; Collection ofthe New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA. fling of time7 The so-called folk tradition for painting is, in fact, a plain version of high-style practice, the best approximation of the studio tradition that a novice painter can produce. However, it is not as important to note how artists paint as it is to discern when in their careers they paint in a plain style. Once the chronology of their work is established, it can then be determined if their plain paintings represent a phase of growth or a symptom ofstagnation, distraction, or confusion. The key to an accurate interpretation of plain painting resides in understanding the evolution of an artist's talents.

Plain Painters: Making Sense of American Folk Art by John Michael Vlach will be published in September 1988 by Smithsonian Institution Press and can be ordered from the Museum of American Folk Art Book and Gift Shop, 62 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10112 ($21.95 softcover plus $3.50 shipping) or from Smithsonian Institution Press, 955 L'Enfant Plaza, Suite 2100, Washington, DC 20560($45.00 hardcover and $21.95 softcover plus shipping).

NOTES 1. These opinions can be found throughout "What is American Folk Art? - A Symposium:' Antiques 52 (May 1950): 355-62. 2. Alice Ford, Pictorial Folk Art, New England to California (New York: Studio Publications, 1949), p. 7. 3. H.W. Janson, History of Art (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962), p. 285. 4. For a representative contemporary comment see Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester, The Flowering ofAmerican Folk Art 1776-1876(New York: Viking Press, 1974), p. 8. 5. Jean Lipman, American Primitive Painting (New York: Oxford University Press, 1942), pp. 5-18. 6. James Thomas Flexner, "New Bottles for Old Old Wine: American Artisan, Amateur, and Folk Paintings;' Antiques 41 (April 1942): 246-49. 7. James Thomas Flexner, "What is American Folk Art?' p. 355. 8. Holger Cahill, "Artisan and Amateur in American Folk Are,'Antiques 59(March 1951): 210. 9. The term plain painting was inspired to some extent by the musical term plainsong. This type of song is basically a chant with a restricted, minimal melody; songs with elaborate and complex tunes might be called art songs. These classifications do not mark one type as superior to the other. Rather, fundamental qualities are highlighted, allowing one to point directly to differences. That the term plain painting may already be on the horizon of scholarly use is suggested by Charles Bergengren's essay, "Finished to the Utmost Nicety': Plain Portraits in America, 1760-1860:' Vlach and Bronner, Folk Art and Art Worlds, pp. 85-120. 10. Jane Kallir, The Folk ArtTradition:Naive Painting in Europe and the United States (New York: Viking Press, 1981), p. 8. 11. John and Katherine Ebert, American Folk Painters (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1975). p. 4. 12. Jules David Prawn, "Styles as Evidence,' Winterthur Portfolio 15(1980): 208. 13. Holger Cahill, "Folk Art: Its Place in the American 'ffadition:'Parnassus 4, no. 3(1932): 4. 14. Joshua Taylor, The Fine Arts in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 21. 15. James Thomas Flexner, History ofAmerican Painting: Vol. I: First Flowers of Our Wilderness (1947; reprinted., New York: Dover, 1969), pp. 30-31. 16. Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester, The Flowering ofAmenican Folk Art1776-1876(New York: Viking Press, 1974), p. 21. The Maine Antique Digest 14, no. 3 (1986) reported on an auction at Sotheby's under the headline "Folk Art Strong:'Plain paintings sold there for between $6,600 and $126,500. 17. Lipman and Winchester, The Flowering ofAmerican Folk Art, p. 7. C 1988 by the Smithsonian Institution. All rights are reserved.

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NAVAJO POTTERY A NEW TWIST ON AN OLD TRADITION According to Navajo legend, pottery was one of the crafts the Dineh, the name the Navajo use to refer to themselves, learned from the Holy People. Translations of ceremonies include a number of references to"pots" and "big earthen bowls!' Moreover,clay pots and vessels are often depicted in the sandpaintings that accompany various healing ceremonies. Despite deep roots in the culture, pottery is, nonetheless, rarely associated with the Navajo people who are much better known for their spectacular silver and turquoise jewelry and fine blankets and rugs. Compared to the gracefully shaped,intricately decorated pottery of the neighboring Hopi, Navajo pottery was scorned by Indian traders who referred to the simple traditional forms as "mud:' Furthermore, the utilitarian nature of much traditional Navajo ware — cooking vessels, storage jars, drums', pipes, and small containers — made them far less glamorous than, for example, the black pots of San Ildefonso potters Maria and Julian Martinez or the meticulously colored pottery of Acoma Pueblo. In the last decade, however, there has been a revival in pottery-making led by a small group of Navajo at Shonto-Cow Springs, and a new interest among scholars, museums and collectors in the pottery of the Navajo. Still rustic and generally unpainted, but more elaborately embellished than in the past, today's Navajo pottery is made by traditional methods. The designs, however, inspired by an enthusiastic market, have become increasingly individualized as potters find their own voices in the Navajo clay. Pottery in the Shonto-Cow Springs ?, area, located on the Navajo reservation c between Flagstaff and Monument Val- , ley in Arizona, dates to prehistoric times. In fact the hogare of potter Betty 34

BY CHUCK ROSENAK

Ceremonial Drum Pot (with deerskin covering); Artist unknown; Circa 1940: 4"diameter. 3 2"high x 4/ 1 6/

Manygoats sits almost on top of a dump site for Anasazi shards!' Manygoats, and several of the other potters, grind these shards and mix them in their clay to bring, as she puts it, "strength and luck" to the work. The current tradition of utilitarian Navajo pottery dates, however, to 1868 when the present Navajo Nation was formed through a treaty with the U.S. Government. The defeated and starving Navajo, rounded up by the Army and sheltered in Fort Sumner, were alotted extensive land in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah which proved to be largely draught-plagued desert — bitter cold in the winter and unshaded heat in the summer. Promised food, clothing, livestock, and supplies apparently never came. With no money to buy cookware from the traders, the Navajo began to make their own pots. Life in the Navajo Nation is, as it has always been, dominated by the"Navajo Way' the ordained and orderly way of life on earth. Pots, not surprisingly, are made exactly as they have always been, mostly by members of the Lok'aa'dine'e clan who take their clay from Black Mesa, an imposing landmark towering above Cow Springs. After the clay is properly mixed and impurities are sifted out, coils are formed and wound upward until the desired shape and size is achieved. The vessel is then smoothed with a burnished corncob, inside and out. Tradition allows only one decorative element to be added to the pot: A beaded necklace just below the rim called a biyo: There always is a small break (similar to the break in Navajo baskets) in the biyo' called atiin, "the way out:' The finished pot is dried in the sun before firing. While cedar is the preferred fuel, almost any type of fireholding device can be employed as a kiln. Potter Faye Tso sometimes uses The Clarion


UtI her fireplace. Betty Manygoats uses a wood-burning stove and an open pit in her yard; others work with cut-open metal drums, similar to barbecue pits. When wood oxidizes and ash comes in contact with the clay, black or blackish-gray discolorations, called fire clouds, appear. These clouds don't bother the Navajo. As Emmett Tso, a medicine man,explained:"Fire,cloud, and earth are all part of the Navajo Way:'After firing, and when the pot has been allowed to cool, melted pition pitch is applied to all surfaces of the object. The pitch is kept in a tin can heating near the fire, its contents melted golden brown. Two sticks are needed to apply the pitch; the end of one is wrapped in a rag dipped in pitch, and the other inserted into the vessel, to hold it, while pitch is rubbed on. Once the pitch has hardened, the pot is watertight, leaving a noticeable, but not unpleasant residual pitch flavor. The person generally considered responsible for the new interest in Navajo pottery is Indian Trader Bill Beaver who came onto the scene in 1950. Bill graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1947 with a degree in anthropology. "But even before that!' he recalls, "I spent my summers camping at Grand Canyon, and among the Navajo. In 1950, I took a job at the Shonto Trading Post, and started to collect Navajo pottery. The owners of the post couldn't see it — they called my stuff'mud:" In those days, pavement ended at the junctions leading to the Grand Canyon. Shonto-Cow Springs could only be reached by dirt tracks — more difficult to traverse than the old Santa Fe Trail before the Civil War. It wasn't until the 1960s, when the Government built a dam and power station at Page, Arizona, and Peabody Coal Company opened a mine near Cow Springs, that the effects of the industrial revolution began to be felt here. Most of the Indians could not afford the enamel ware sold at trading posts until the mine broughtjobs, so the clay pots continued to be used. (By the 1970s there was finally a gas pump in front of the Cow Springs trading post — on a genuine two-lane highway. Tourist buses, on their way to Monument Valley, whizzed by.) Summer 1988

Bill Beaver married a Navajo, Dollie Longbeaver, and, by 1960, he had purchased the trading post at Sacred Mountain. But Sacred Mountain was inevitably passed up by tourists on their way to and from the Grand Canyon. "Indian became a big item!' Bill lamented. "I was loaded up with pottery, but tourists didn't come!' The big break for all concerned came in 1962, when Grover Turner walked into the trading post at Sacred Mountain. Beaver describes Turner as a"cash runner!' who bought Beaver's pots for a little above cost, and took them on the road, covering the gift shops at tourist attractions. Turner reported his success to Bill that fall, raving about the work of the artists who proved to be "best sellers!' Bill was now aware that "the innovators sold best. And so I'd go to those makers and say, 'give me more:" There is no word in Navajo for artist, but when the potters found a market, they began to further express their individuality — always based on their culturally-inherited craft tradition.

Now, for the first time, the utilitarian aspect of Navajo pottery became secondary in importance to the creative expression of the artist. Taboos were broken: Men began to pot; pots were painted; figures of forbidden animals, like horned toads, appeared (The Indians call them horny toads, DichT zhii, literally meaning "My Grandfather:' If left alone, they bring good luck). Depictions of sacred Yei dancers5 were painted and incised into the pottery, and the biyo' became stylized or sometimes disappeared. Most of the artists thought that breaking traditional religious customs was a matter of personal choice. But at least one, Ida Sahmie, felt she should have a sing' conducted to protect her from possible spiritual repercussions. Emmett Tso offered this personal justification for the motifs used by him and his family: "Because Faye, my son Irwin, and I are medicine men and know how to properly treat the subject matter, we can depict Yei figures, etc., without bad ramifications, just as Hastiin Klah did before us!"

ALICE CLING An example of Alice Cling's graceful, highly polished pottery: 10/ 1 2" high x 7/ 1 2" diameter.

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-t1 By 1980, the world had finally begun to notice Navajo pottery — it wasn'tjust "mud" anymore. Bill Beaver sold his personal collection to the Arizona State Museum in Tucson where the Navajo

pots were displayed — under spotlights. The Museum of Northern Arizona began emphasizing Navajo pottery at its annual craft fairs in July, and one or two of the potters began to exhibit at Indian

Market, held each August in Santa Fe. The leading artists of this generation of Shonto-Cow Springs Dineh are now known. This, in itself, is somewhat revolutionary, since prior to this time pottery was never signed. In the past the maker remained anonymous. ALICE CLING

MYR TIO One of Tso's sculptural 2" 1 pieces; 10" high x 5/ diameter.

The Clings live in a small house, erected by HUD,in Shonto, and Alice works as a teacher's aide. "I learned to pot from my mother, Rose Williams, and I still fire in her backyard;' says Cling. (Rose, who makes large, beautifully shaped pots taught a good many their trade. She applies little decoration, and no longer uses the biyo:) "I began taking my pots to Bill Beaver in 1969;' Cling says, "but they didn't sell. Then one day in 1976, I looked at my work and said, 'Alice they're ugly; and so I polished some up and shaped them, to make them beautiful. But I could not bring myself to add much decoration, because Grandmother said that would be bad. Beaver thought I had used a wheel, but I wouldn't — that's not the Navajo Way:' Alice Cling's highly polished (she polishes with a smooth stone, instead of a corncob) and gracefully shaped ware is now the most sought after of Navajo pottery. FAYE ISO

JIMMY WILSON While Wilson learned from Faye Tso, the shapes of his pieces are uniquely his own; 9" high x 7" diameter.

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Faye Tso is married to Emmett (who also occasionally pots), a former Navajo councilman and presently a consultant to the Navajo Nation. They have eight children and live in a small prefabricated house in Tuba City, Arizona. They maintain a ceremonial hogan out back. Faye was only able to complete two years of school because her mother died when she was seven, and she had to care for two sisters. One daughter, Myra, who has finished some college, is trying her hand at pottery. Her son, Irwin, is taking high school art classes, and has declared that his ambition is to become a sculptor, in addition to his practice as a medicine man. Faye, in a typical Navajo statement, said she learned to pot from "Old Old Grandmother;' probably Emmett's. Her The Clarion


first efforts couldn't be distinguished from hundreds of similar utilitarian items made by the Navajo, but about fifteen years ago, Faye began decorating her work with figures of Yeibichai and Corn dancers. Then last year she pulled a likeness of her husband out of an upside down drum pot — now she was making art. Faye Tso is also experimenting with new glazing methods. By using different combinations of dung (sheep, horse and cow) and tempering material, she can change the color of the pot from golden brown to almost black. Her clan brother, Jimmy Wilson,learned pottery making from Faye, and she has taught other Navajo. One example of her advice is repeated by well-known Navajo potter, Penny Emerson. When Penny began to pot, Faye told her: "I'll be happy to teach you what I know, but if the clay doesn't like you, you will never be able to make a good pot!'Faye has demonstrated her art at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, and is one of the leading Navajo potters.

BETTY MANYGOATI Tall vases with horned toad decoration are representative of Manygoats' work; 21" high x 12" diameter.

JIMMY WILSON Although Jimmy Wilson learned from Faye Tso, his artistic sensibility is quite different. He is the only one of the potters who has sought out sources for clay other than Black Mesa. He digs from several hidden places and uses the different colored clay to make slips. Thus, his pots have distinctive variations in shading, from dark gray to almost yellow. Wilson's shapes are thick-walled and cruder than, say Alice Cling's, but every bit as innovative. He incises Navajo designs, highlighted by the slip, into his work. Wilson's wife, Clara, makes small animals — sheep, goats, and cows. These are similar to traditional Navajo toys. Their teen-age daughter is learning to pot and has already made a small standing figure. Wilson is the brother-in-law of Bill Beaver, but he doesn't believe dealers have the "right to make money off my sweat!' So Jimmy doesn't take his ware to Beaver. He sells at craft fairs and the Santa Fe Indian Market, commanding the highest prices of all these potters. Wilson has won at least one blue ribbon at Indian Market each year since 1981. Summer 1988

BETTY MANYGOATS The hogan of Betty Manygoats must be one of the most difficult places on earth to find. Start out by asking at the Cow Springs Trading Post; follow dirt tracks that cross and recross each other over hills of sheep-nibbled grass; wander through washes; don't break an axle, and you'll get there. Betty is one of the hardest working and most prolific of the Shonto-Cow Springs artists. The family also breaks the most taboos. Manygoats is best known for her depictions of horny toads, which she puts on everything from banks to her famous wedding vases — standing over two feet tall, they can have as many as two dozen toads crawling about. She makes the scales on the horny toads with a bobby pin. Decoration aside, her pottery is made strictly in the Navajo Way. William Manygoats, Betty's husband, also makes pots. His are thick

walled, darker, squatter, and covered with painted designs, including Yei figures. Occasionally, one of Betty's pots will also contain a painted design. Betty Manygoats has won awards at the Museum of Northern Arizona and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremony in Gallup, New Mexico, but like many of the other potters, she never personally appears. SILAS AND BERTHA CLAW Silas and Bertha Claw live off a track which winds along a ridge east of Cow Springs. They look over the hogan of their teacher, Rose Williams. While the Claws learned their craft from Rose, their art is more innovative. Silas seems to like to take credit for their designs, but since neither speaks much English and their work is unsigned, it's hard to tell which ofthem made what. They are a very proud couple: Guests are not allowed into their home until they have 37


changed into their fanciest velvet outfits and bedecked themselves with the wealth of the Navajo — silver and turquoise jewelry. Silas and Bertha make small vessels, sometimes with two spouts. Their work is usually lighter in color than other Navajo pottery, perhaps because they apply a varnish over the clay instead of pilion pitch. The Claws applique horny toads, cactus and the heads of animals (sheep and cows) on the sides of the work. Some paint is often applied to the sculptural objects to highlight the applique. SILAS CLAW The two-spouted vessel appliqued with animal heads is afavorite Silas Claw design; 6" high x 4" diameter.

NAVAJO ART POTTERY Another, cross-cultural group of Navajo potters has emerged recently, largely as a result of intermarriage, experimentation and exposure to the work of other artists. These art potters are highly competitive in such forums as Indian Market, where a blue ribbon in Santa Fe can mean a $12,000 price tag in Los Angeles or New York. This pottery does not have the same folk sensibility as that of the Shonto-Cow Springs artists,but it is very collectible and may represent the future for Navajo pottery. Among the leading artists: Ida Sahmie is married to a descendant of the great Hopi potter, Nampeyo!Although she is Navajo, Ida has been taught to pot by her relatives in the Hopi manner. Her work is every bit as good, and maybe better, than that of her husband's relatives. The Hopis have forbidden her to use their traditional designs so she uses Navajo figures. This may make her pots even more sought after, because the designs are new and fresh and haven't, like the Hopi designs, been repeated on pottery for generations. Her bowls are graceful, thin-walled, and colorful. Lucy Leupp McKelvey is Navajo, but she learned pottery making as a college student in 1973. She sometimes fires in an electric kiln, but uses Navajo clay and painted Navajo designs. She makes beautifully designed pots. Chris McHorse presently lives in Taos. She learned to pot from her husband's family, Taos potters, and generally uses micaceous clay from that area. While Chris can fire in the Navajo manner and will do so on request, she told us she prefers an electric kiln because the temperatures are more uniform. Her work is beautiful and graceful in design, but it is far removed from the Navajo Way. Chris wins blue ribbons at Indian Market and state fairs all over the Southwest.

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LORENA BARTLETT AND LOUISE GOODMAN Lorena Bartlett and Louise Goodman are sisters-in-law. Lorena is confined to a wheelchair — some years ago a relative went berserk and shot her before killing himself. These artists express themselves quite differently. Bartlett makes wellproportioned, thin-walled pots decorated with more or less traditional designs, but always contemporary in feeling. She also makes cooking ware — casseroles, coffee pots, and frying pans. Goodman makes several different types of pottery, but she is known for exposing the coils, unsmoothed, on the outside. Her pots are not, perhaps, as graceful as some, but they have a raw folky charm. Both women have children who are assisting and learning to make pottery. Bill Beaver said recently that"one of the neat things about the Shonto-Cow Springs pottery-makers is that their ware is still functioning as when I found it in the 1950s — still used in ceremony and for cooking — and yet, some of the makers are getting recognition by outsiders in addition:' Many folk communities have lamented the dying out of traditions that have no practitioners among the younger generation. Lanier Meaders, the Georgia potter, is fond of commenting,"When I die, it will die with me:' But the art of the Navajo potters is just freshly emerging. The Navajo Way may be succumbing to change, but the Dineh are American artists of this century who will likely still be innovating in the next. The Clarion


Chuck Rosenalc, a photographer, writer and longtime collector of American folk art contributed to the exhibition "ANII ANAADAALYAAIGH [Recent Ones that are Made]: Continuity and Innovation in Recent Navajo Art;' at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Santa Fe, NM,from July 10 to October 30, 1988. He is working on a book and exhibition on twentieth century American folk art for the Museum of American Folk Art, New York City. NOTES I. "Dineh" is the name used by the Navajo to refer to themselves. However, Navajo is a complex tonal language in which the meaning of a word is distinguished by the pitch of the voice. Thus, there are often several spellings of the same word. For a more detailed explanation, see Raymond Locke, The Book ofthe Navajo:. Los Angeles: Manlcind Publishing Company, 1976. 2. Drum pots are an example of ceremonial use of Navajo pottery. They are used for sings such as the Enemy Way, one of the most frequently held Navajo ceremonies in the summer months. The drum pots are blessed in secret ceremony before they may be used, according to medicine man Emmett Tso. "Eyes are cut into a deer skin stretched tight over the pot's opening, and water is added through the eyes:' he explained, to give the drum proper resonance. Drumming continues through the entire dance. 3. A hogan is a circular or six-sided dwelling of mud, logs, or stone in which many Navajo lived until recent years. While hogans are not uncommon today, they are used primarily for ceremonial purposes. 4. "Anasazi" or "ancient ones: as the Navajo call them, refers to the people who lived in the area from the 5th century until about 1300 at which time they mysteriously disappeared from the region, perhaps because of several periods of severe drought and crop failure. 5. The Yeibichai or Night Chant is the most sacred of Navajo ceremonies. Continuing for nine days, it may take place only in fall — after the first frost when snakes are in hibernation and there is no danger from lightning. 6. A ritual performed by a medicine man (hataalii) to ward off evil, this ceremony, which often utilizes sandpainting, is both curative and preventive. 7. Klah was one of the most famous medicine men ofthe early 1900s. He persuaded Mary Cabot Wheelwright to finance a Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art in Santa Fe(now called the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian). Because of belief in his power, Hastiin Klah was able to record songs and sandpaintings without harm to himself or his viewers. See N. Parezo, "Navajo Sandpaintine 'Meson: University of Arizona Press, 1983. 8. The Hopi potter Nampeyo was born in Hano in 1859 or 1860. After seeing shards of pottery brought home by her husband during excavation of the ruin of Sikyatki, she began to experiment with old designs and revived pottery making. Most well-known Hopi potters today are descendants of Nampeyo. SUGGESTED READING Bruegge, David M., Wright, H. Dianne and Bell, Jan. "Navajo Pottery:' Plateau Magazine, Museum of Northern Arizona, Vol. 58, No. 2(1987). Hartman, Russell and Musial, Jan. "Navajo Pottery, Traditions and Innovations:' Flagstaff, Arizona: Northland Press, 1987. Rosenak, Charles. "Folk Art of the People: Navajo Works:' St. Louis: Craft Alliance Gallery and Education Center, 1987. Roessel, Robert A. Jr. "Navajo Arts and Crafts:. Rough Rock, Arizona: Navajo Curriculum Center, 1983. Tschopik, Harry, Jr. "Navaho Pottery Making; An Inquiry into the Affinities ofNavaho Painted Pottery:. Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. XVII, No. 1, 1941.

Summer 1988

LORENA BARTLETT While Bartlett's well-proportioned, thin-walled pots are decorated with traditional designs, they still have a contemporary feeling;11/ 3 4"high x 8"diameter.

LOUISE GOODMAN Goodman is known for exposing the unsmoothed coils on the outside ofher pottery: 10/ 1 2 " high x 8/ 1 4"diameter.

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FIM

Striding Out on their Own "Outsider art is exciting to me because it's original, not tainted by esthetic or superficial things. There's an inner fire that makes it happen, and no selfconsciousness. It's like a natural voice:' CLAYTON BAILEY,sculptor Artists are often the first to appreciate powerful images from unexpected sources. Picasso arranged a show for the self-taught painter Henri Rousseau and collected African tribal art. Jean Dubuffet collected drawings made by patients in mental institutions. In the 1960s and 1970s, folk and outsider art became an important source for a number of Northern California artists who gained national reputations for work which, in one way or another, thumbed its nose at the New York mainstream. By the 1960s, the San Francisco Bay Area had become home to the counterculture movement, which began as a protest against racism and the war in Vietnam and mushroomed into a rejection of all established conventions. Young artists were strongly affected, as well. Isolated by geography and attitude from the East Coast art market and media,the Bay Area artists rejected the trendiness of the New York dominated avant-garde as it sped from Formalism to Minimalism and on to Conceptualism. In contrast, Northern California artists began to look for art with emotion, personality, and complications. As they worked to evolve their own styles, they turned to comics, kitsch, advertising, art of other cultures, and the work of untrained artists. They discovered in folk art visual delights like patterning and inventive figures, and in outsider art an emotional directness which they felt

40

Folk Art and Northern California Artists by Meredith Tromble and John Turner

had been squeezed out of high art. This phenomenon in Northern California paralleled a similar development in Chicago, where the influence of folk and outsider art began to appear with the Hyde Park Art Center's 1966 exhibition "The Hairy Who' Artists Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, Karl Wirsum and others who became known as the "Chicago Imagists" made finely crafted paintings with sharp color, distorted drawing, and a high-strung emotional tone. Among their sources were the self-taught artists Joseph Yoakum and Martin Ramirez, as well as other examples of"primitive" and "naive" art. "It was the example of Yoakum and the outsiders to create spontaneously with no regard for fashion or cultural mores that had such an impact on the Chicagoans. It encouraged them to feel that they would be able to fmd the means to tread a completely independent path7 stated the British curator Victor Musgrave! As artist Jim Nutt put it, "Yoakum's work for me is fantastic, true fantasy, and I came to learn that I had a right to my own when I realized I was willing to accept his. When you see

someone like Ramirez or Rodia or Yoakum striding out on their own, it makes you feel more comfortable with doing that yourself:' The Northern California artists never evolved into a distinct group like the Chicago Imagists. Because their interest in the work of self-taught artists was largely private, it was less apparent. As a result, the relationships of these California artists to folk and outsider art are less well-known — indeed rarely documented. But as this article, based on interviews with a dozen artists, shows,folk and outsider art had — and continues to have — a strong impact on a number of important artists working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the years, one of the most powerful influences on California artists, clearly, has been the many largescale folk art environments found throughout the state. California has more documented sites, including Simon Rodia's famous Towers in Watts, than any other state, and many of the artists have visited one or more ofthem. Even those who had not been to such sites as Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village, located in Southern California, were familiar with them through slides or books. Exposure to folk and outsider art also came through a scattering of exhibitions over the years, which supplemented the information available in print. Some of the most important were the Richmond Art Center's show of cement figures by Alameda pipefitter John Roeder in 1962;"The Flowering of American Folk Art" at the De Young Museum in San Francisco in 1974; and two shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art — the Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection in 1968 and "In Celebration ofOurselves'an exhibition featuring California folk environments, The Clarion


I Walk A Thousand Miles Roy DeForest 1966 Acrylic on canvas 58/ 1 4 x 477/8" Collection of University Art Museum, Berkeley, California Gift ofMrs. Ansley, K. Salz Untitled Nellie Mae Rowe 1981 Acrylic on wood 16 x 111 / 4"

DeForest and the Southern black artist Nellie Mae Rowe both use the unusual application of paint in candy kiss shaped dots. DeForest was unfamiliar with Rowe's work, but his affinity forfolk art is clear.

Summer 1988

in 1977. Each of these exhibitions was recalled by at least one of the interviewed artists as a memorable experience. In 1967, Phil Linhares became Director of Exhibitions at the San Francisco Art Institute and folk and outsider art gained a champion at the heart ofthe Bay Area art world. Linhares developed a taste for the unconventional as a teenager in Modesto, California. "We would go out to South Modesto Acres, to the settlements, and see fun things — funny painted things people would do and odd signs:' One of Linhares' early shows at the Art Institute was the work of Peter Mason Bond (PEMABO), a San Francisco eccentric who had a garden of signs proclaiming a creed of pacifism and brotherhood from the early 1950's until his death in 1971. Bond's garden was recreated in the gallery, and he held court there for the entire five weeks of the show. Linhares brought "The Hairy Who" to the Art Institute gallery in 1968. Shortly after the show, Nutt, Nilsson, and Wirsum accepted teaching jobs at Sacramento State University. Linhares recalls that after they moved West,"We developed a friendship. Jim, Gladys, and I spent a lot of time discussing outsider art. In 1971, we put together a show at the Art Institute, 'American Naive and Primitive Art: a big show, which included Joseph Yoakum, Jim Colclaugh, P.M. Wentworth, and Martin Ramirez, among others:' Several Bay Area artists responded to the independence of untrained artists just as the Imagists had. Phil Linhares, who was a painter, too, explained: "Even at that time, we were sick of art world strategies. Outsider art was refreshing because it's completely ingenuous and people just did it from the heart. That's what we were all aspring to do!' "My attitude is to make something direct. I like the concept of something idiosyncratic, doing something that 41


G7M

The Worlds Great Riddle Howard Finster Mixed media 20 x 30 x 12"(approximately)

Lady Brain Bruce Conner 1960 Mixed media 20 x 10 x 120"

Conner wrapped a junked radio in a cardboard box, nylon shawl, and other weathered materials to make this disturbing sculpture. Folk artist Howard Finster made a similar use offound materials in The Worlds Great Riddle.

isn't entirely prescribed by the canons of art;' says painter Roy DeForest, who gained reknown for his bright, patterned images of animals and people. Folk and outsider art gave painter Louise Stanley permission to introduce the personal and everyday into her painting. She developed a humorous narrative style, often appearing in her own work as a modern woman facing the sublime and ridiculous aspects of love or art simultaneously. Searching for her own esthetic, Stanley filled notebooks with copies of folk art paintings and decoration from all countries and periods. She found a guide in Camille Bombois, the Euro42

pean Naive painter, who influenced the stylized distortions of her figures. Stanley met weekly with other feminists to paint "breaking all the rules:' They saw what they called "bad" or "naive" art as a way to bypass ego and reach a deeper source of inspiration. "I was consciously trying to be a primitive. You were supposed to paint big, abstract oils, and not put things in the middle. We made borders and painted on cheap watercolor paper with tiny brushes. We'd put something in the middle of the paper and say 'Take that, George Post:" (Post was a more traditionally minded instructor at the California College of Arts and Crafts).

Other artists learned coincidentally that their work had parallels in selftaught art. Sculptor and film maker Bruce Conner assembled found objects into dark sculptures redolent ofdecay in the late 1950's and early 1960's. He later pioneered the use of "found" film, editing discarded footage from many sources into rhythmic film collages. Conner found inspiration in second hand stores, particularly in one shop owned by a retired black minister, where the "junk" was carefully arranged in unofficial assemblages. Conner saw beauty in rubbish:"There were all these wonderful things that nobody wanted. Some ofthem I found in a trash The Clarion


Canjo William Wiley 1971 Mixed media 30 x 10 x 4/ 1 2"

Cigar Box Violin Anonymous Cigar box and wood 18 x 434 x 2/ 1 2"

Both ofthese instruments can be played, although the "violin" has a wider range. Wiley and the anonymous violin maker "made somethingfrom nothing:' in the resourceful country tradition.

pile. You would look at an old car radio and the light shone on its irridescent, rusted forms as if it were purposely designed as a kind of sculpture, an oversized jewel:' Although Conner and Tressa "Grandma" Prisbrey never met, they shared a sensibility for found objects. Prisbrey created a Bottle Village with thirteen houses made of empty bottles and filled with her collections of discarded dolls, pencils, and other objects. In a 1975 interview, she said,"We have a dump in Santa Susana where everything under the sun shows up if you wait long enough. It's a graveyard for lost articles, discarded treasures, Summer 1988

worn out everything. What some people throw away I believe I could wear to churc102 An old cigar box became a violin in the hands of an anonymous folk artist, whose solution to making an instrument is very like that of William Wiley, a prolific painter and sculptor who has influenced many other artists with his creation of a personal myth and his punning texts. His "Canjo" — a banjo made of cans — extends his pun to the materials, tin cans, wire, and a stick. The down home materials give a different message than bronze or marble could convey. Wiley never saw the cigar box violin, but his Canjo shares the 43


same inventive spirit. Finding artistic possibilities in the seemingly unpromising materials is a hallmark of outsider art. Prison art, the objects convicts make from folded and woven cigarette packs and gum wrappers, is a prime example. Richard Shaw, one of several influential ceramists who liberated ceramic sculpture from the craft tradition, said, "I love prison art. A lot of my stuff comes from that — the obsessiveness. Making stuff from totally the wrong things makes you re-examine something:' This "re-examining something" is central to Shaw's art. He begins by making books, cards, sticks, and other objects from the "wrong" material, clay; then stacks them up into a second layer of imagery made from the "wrong" objects, walking figures, or a house on a foundation of books. Clayton Bailey, also a ceramic sculptor, recalled that "The first thing I ever did that wasn't just a straight piece of pottery was to make a face on the side of a pot. When I found there were three generations of Meaders [a Southern family of potters] who'd been doing it, I thought this isn't so crazy after all. They've been making a living at it:' Bailey also found inspiration for his work in the strange world of roadside attractions. A homemade sign along the road near Port Costa, across the Bay from San Francisco, directed visitors to the "Wonders of the World Museum;' his own environmental site filled with detailed ceramic fossils from mythical animals like Bigfoot and the Cyclops. The "fossils" were displayed complete with detailed "scientific" information about the creatures, provided by Bailey's alter ego, Dr. George Gladstone. "Dr. Gladstone" appeared, dressed in a white lab coat and safari hat, in photos of the fossils' "discovery:' Another museum fantasy/roadside attraction, the creation of Dickens Bascom, operated in Mill Valley in the early 1970s. It went by the quixotic 44

Monster Cookie Jar Clayton Bailey 1970 Ceramic 10" high x 6" diameter Face Jug Lanier Waders 1970 Ceramic II" high x 9" diameter

Thisfacejug isfrom the collection ofClayton Bailey, whofound in Meaders' work a reinforcement of his own delight in ceramic "grotesques:'

The Clarion


Photo: C Michelle Vigne,

Artist Clayton Bailey, dressed as his alter ego Dr. George Gladstone, exhibits "Kaolithic Fossils" in his Wonders of the World Museum.

name, "The Unknown Museum;' and was packed to the rafters with collections of contemporary artifacts — cartoon lunchboxes, Barbie dolls, and every imaginable flea market object. The museum's space was obsessively filled, but carefully ordered by curator Mickey McGowan. Bascom, along with fellow artists Larry Puente, and Lois Anderson developed a related assemblage, decorating objects like cars and mannequins with a crust of patterned objects. The group came to be known as the "Gluers" because of the buckets of glue that held together their work. The Gluers' spirit was very close to that of outsider artists. Anderson says, "Nobody taught me how to glue. I just went home and started messing around. This just came out from the inside 'on the natch:" For artists who found the weight of art history more burdensome than the Summer 1988

Gluers did, folk and outsider artists could embody an ideal of natural creativity. Judy North paints large, refined watercolors which include much Jungian imagery. Yet she was among a number of artists who worked to preserve Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village. She found her contact with Grandma Prisbrey inspirational: "There's a spirit — you can see it so clearly. The naive have it unencumbered. There's so much spirit flowing out of Grandma Prisbrey, it's a joy to be with her. It's hard to maintain balance and grace in the face of the onslaught of ideas about art. Ordinary people are so intimidated they can't have their own connection [to the creative spirit]. Naive artists are working with a real confidence. They have no doubts at all that this and this go together. There's an unshakeable connection with intuition that overrides everything else!' North felt she saw hope for the

creative spirit in outsider artists, which she doesn't find from artists who are aware of an audience. "Naive artists don't have the issue of ambition in their lives. In sizing up the steps to success, you close the door to the inner spirit!' Other artists, however, are skeptical of the romantic notion of the folk or outsider artist as pure creative spirit. "People carry a lot of fantasies about what's going on in someone else's life;' said painter and sculptor William Wiley. "I think we entertain ourselves and maintain hopes and fantasies by imagining there's someone outside of something, free of something we're enslaved by:' Indeed, some find the notion of unselfconscious vision — often attributed to self-taught artists — as a serious drawback, not an advantage. "Many artists see that innocence and wish they weren't burdened:' said Robert Arneson, the ceramic sculptor. 45


"I find folk art childlike and not very interesting. I'm not innocent, so I have to deal with it. Intellectual content, which outsider art doesn't have, is very important to me:' Even artists inspired by folk or outsider art expressed similar reservations. "I really respond to folk are,' said artist Judith Linhares, former wife of Phil Linhares. "I love the directness, I love the sincerity. What I miss is a complicated sort of engagement with ideas. I can't use it as much as I can use a Rembrandt or a Watteau. Folk artists' work is often the same from beginning to end. You don't see a kind of development in their minds!' Linhares drew on Mexican Day of the Dead imagery to create her own vocabulary. Her paintings add layers of personal and social commentary to the skeleton archetype. Painter Roy DeForest, who has become a little tired of the connections constantly made between his work and folk art, stressed that artistic innocence doesn't necessarily produce powerful art. There is nothing about being untrained that guarantees creative success, said DeForest, who once taught art to prisoners. "I'm unsentimental about it. Untrained artists have about the same ratio of success as academic artists. A lot of what's being collected now is pretty uninteresting, but so is art in galleries. Art's art. I just don't make any special categories:' William Wiley was also uninterested in distinguishing outsider from fine art. "Everybody starts out as an artist:' he said. "That's generally stymied, stifled, or prevented in some form. At some point, if you're lucky, you return to that potential. But it's all coming out of the same place:' In recent years, a number of young artists have exited the art schools openly emulating untrained artists. In a negative sense this can be, as Bruce Conner put it, "the exploitation of emotional imagery as though it were an alphabet!' Said Richard Shaw,"Bad art takes the surface, not the soul. You 46

Prison Art(top) Anonymous Camel cigarette packages 4/ 1 4 x 11 x 8/ 1 2"

Le Petite Lebon Richard Shaw 1984 Ceramic 6/ 1 2x 9/ 1 4 x 6/ 3 4"

From the side, this prison art box has the profile ofa house, the lid making the roofline. Shaw's trompe oeil ceramic sculpture borrows the Camel cigarette imagery.

The Clarion


Lovers Judith Linhares 1972 Lithograph 29 x 23" Fortune Teller Miguel Linares Painted papier-mache 46 x 20 x 20"

Fortune Teller is a fine example of the Mexican Day of the Dead figures which influenced Linhares' skeleton imagery.

can't just put sticks and feathers on everything!' Independent and protective of their individuality, these Northern California artists in some ways mirrored the position of an outsider artist ignoring societal expectations. According to their temperament they took what they needed from folk or outsider art and mixed it with many other sources. Some found in this art a form of inner guidance, freedom to work without preconceived ideas about art. This opened the way to use of personal references and stories. For others, new stylistic elements, such as spontaneous drawing or distortion of figures, became part of their art. For sculptors, in particular, folk and outsider art widened the definition of "art material!' reinforcing the use of found objects and showing how imagination could transform the unlikeliest material. Folk environments inspired artists to create not only art, but the context for their art, as well. Folk and outsider art contributed both spirit and style to the eclectic mix of Northern California art in the 1960s and 1970s. And that influence continues today on the work of younger artists. As long as California keeps its maverick spirit, artists will continue to draw on these rich sources. Meredith Tromble is a painter and writer who gives a weekly commentary on art for station KQED-FM in San Francisco. John 'Rimer is Curator of 20th Century American Folk Art at the San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum and is author of an upcoming biography on Rev. Howard Finster(Random House). Tromble and Turner are co-curators of the exhibition "Not So Naive: Bay Area Artists and Outsider Art;' which will run from July 2 through August 28, 1988, at the San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum. NOTES 1. Musgrave, Victor, Who Chicago, Introduction, Ceolfrith Gallery and Sunderland Arts Center, 1980, page 11. 2. Prisbrey, Tessa and Miki Herman, Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village, self-published, 1975, page 5. All other quotes in this article are takenfrom interviews with artists by authors.

Summer 1988

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M

N/IALCAI-1 BY WILLA S. ROSENBERG Malcah. It is a Hebrew name meaning queen. Born in 1931, Mildred Brightman chose to be known as Malcah when, at age seventeen, she moved from her home in Detroit to a kibbutz in Israel, where she hoped to discover her Jewish heritage. A year later, she married a young American Zionist and assumed the role of devoted wife. Now, forty years later, Malcah Zeldis has become a widely recognized American artist, self-taught and self-motivated, whose work is represented in collections around the world. In the early years in Israel, Zeldis' husband and work on the kibbutz monopolized most of her time and energy. It was during this period, however, that Zeldis began to paint. In fact, in 1952, while she was pregnant with her son David, Aaron Giladi, a well known Israeli artist with the Kibbutz Cultural Movement, visited Kibbutz Chatzerim where Zeldis was living and working. He saw her paintings and commented a great artist is living in this kibbutz:' Zeldis, not recognizing herself as an artist, never imagined Giladi was actually speaking of her. Indeed, when Giladi offered constructive criticism and suggested that she paint larger pieces, Zeldis, lacking confidence as an artist, was so overwhelmed she stopped painting altogether. Zeldis' daughter, Yona, was born five years later, and children and husband served as the focal point of her life. Malcah's devotion to her family, and to Israel, fulfilled the traditional role she saw for herself as a Jewish woman of the mid-1950's. Her interest in painting was sidelined during this period; any artistic expression revolved around her home and family. 1.4

Continued on page 50 48

laffew srlotio!NI :oloyd

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Artist Malcah Zeldis in her studio. The Clarion


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ZELDIS A BY HENRY NIEMANN Self-taught artist Malcah Zeldis was born in New York and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Her significant childhood memories are largely of her loving Jewish parents and family, their weekend excursions to the Detroit Institute of Art, occasional summer visits to New York City and reading the Sunday "funny papers!' as well as stories from the Old Testament, one of the few books available to her as a youngster. People and circumstances — both real and imagined — have served as sources of inspiration for her art. Along with the memories of her formative years, Zeldis has also focused her artistic expression on actual life events commonly encountered by many contemporary Americans: A marriage and subsequent divorce, her two children and the urban environments in which she has lived for most of her life. Zeldis' primary impetus for executing a work is to express and preserve in visual form a sudden overwhelming urge or feeling that she has experienced while recalling some image. Her objective is for her paintings to "tell the story!' In establishing her modus operandi, she has constructed her own guidelines of how to render her imagery. In so doing, she is therefore answerable to no one. Zeldis claims that she has always found the work of skilled artists so "holy and inaccessible!' Though possibly not all that conscious to Zeldis, one explanation of this statement might be that in her search for freedom of expression, she has stubbornly refused to conform to academic principles. This is possibly because such formalistic rules have been systematized and dominated by men whose concepts defy her comRoseland (detail); 1977; Oil on musonite; 32 x 36"; Collection of the Museum ofAmerican Folk Art(1978.7.1).

Summer 1988

Continued on page 52 49


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Continuedfrom page 48 After nine years in Israel, the Zeldis family returned to the United States and took up residency in Brooklyn. Zeldis still had not returned to painting and her artistic efforts continued to revolve around making curtains, sewing Halloween costumes, and collecting and arranging eclectic antiques, all of which bore the Malcah Zeldis imprint. Upon reflection, Zeldis now understands why her painting career took so long to emerge. Indeed, as a child growing up in Detroit, Malcah and her brother were discouraged from painting by their father, a Sunday painter himself. Later, Zeldis' husband would also treat her painting without enthusiasm. She was to find no encouragement for her painting from the two dominant male figures in her life. Thus Zeldis thrust herself into the wife and mother career role that she was encouraged to fulfill. While she continued to think about painting, she lacked the selfconfidence to keep trying. It wasn't until the early 1970s that Zeldis resumed painting. With her children now older, and her marriage coming apart, Zeldis began to look for other channels for her energy. In 1970, she passed the entrance examination and enrolled in Brooklyn College as a student in Early Childhood Studies, a degree program she completed four years later. Zeldis' success in this program, an independent yet approved venture outside the home, boosted her confidence. As policy, Brooklyn College offered credit for "life experience:' and Zeldis submitted her recent paintings. Even then her nagging insecurity led her to leave what she considered her best work, Petrushka, at home and bring other paintings to the college review board instead. Zeldis knew she lacked the training other artists had, and the discourage50

My Wedding; Circa 1973; Oil on masonite;24 x28";Collection ofthe artist.

ment by her family led her to doubt whether she had any talent, either. She now acknowledges it was a bold move to take her paintings to show the critics. But, her motivation, then, was solely to gain extra credit to further her goal as a teacher. Art was just a means to an end. While this determination increased her confidence, Zeldis was still not prepared for the compliments she received for her work. Slowly Zeldis began to take her art more seriously. At about this same time, she first saw Haitian folk art in a New York City gallery and, noting the similarity to her own work in terms of vibrant color, pattern, and naive spatial

relationships, thought perhaps she really was an artist. She describes this realization as nothing short of thrilling. Malcah Zeldis, indeed,found great joy in finding herself as an artist! Since her emergence, in 1972, as an artist in her own mind, Zeldis has been working continuously, almost as if to make up for lost time. Her paintings are oils on masonite board which has been coated with a white primer. She rapidly sketches her thoughts in pencil and applies her paints at once before the idea escapes her. Often her paints are unmixed and applied directly from the tube, such is the urgency of her need to express herself. While her paintings are The Clarion


Street Scene in Brooklyn; 1973; Oil on masonite; 9 x 14". Collection of the artist.

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Grandmother Lights the Candles; Circa 1972; Oil on masonite; 16 x 24"; Collection of Mama Anderson.

flat and lack proportion and the colors are not true, Zeldis creates a kind of reality by including specific recognizable objects — a chair, a vase, clothing, a piece of jewelry — in her paintings. Often Zeldis includes herself in her paintings, as well. In one, she might appear in a cafe grouping among Summer 1988

friends, or with a famous personality, while in another she might star on center stage. Often the face of the painting's leading lady bears a striking resemblance to Zeldis, even though the subject is meant to be someone else. The subjects in the stories she tells range from historic events (Abraham

Lincoln freeing the slaves), to the biblical(Moses crossing the Red Sea),to the everyday (the New York City subway), to the popular (Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol), to the personal (her grandmother lighting Sabbath candles). "It is very pleasurable and sensual to be able to put people I know and admire into my paintings:' Zeldis says. Malcah Zeldis' work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of American Folk Art, New York City; the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Museum D'Art Naif De L'lle De Paris, France; The Museum, Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, and the Jewish Museum, New York City. The Brooklyn Museum, New York City; Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Williamsburg, Virginia; Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne, Wyoming; Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, Minnesota; Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and the Lakeview Museum, Peoria, Illinois are among the many other institutions throughout the country that have included Zeldis' paintings in their exhibitions. Zeldis' large compositions, executed in her distinctive, flat style and crisp bold palette, emit a warmth and friendliness that is captivating. As she has matured, as a person and an artist, Zeldis has grown into the appelation she adopted as a young girl — Malcah, a queen. Note: The above article is based on personal interviews with the artist on April 26, 1988 and May 3, 1988.

Willa S. Rosenberg is Assistant Editor of The Clarion and has completed the certificate program at the Museum's Folk Art Institute. 51


A Continuedfrom page 49 prehension. Perhaps there is also a deep seated resentment of a very strong father image as well. Nonetheless, having remained fiercely independent of artistic philosophies, theories and/or art "movements;' the oeuvre of this iconoclastic artist stands as a testament to true individual self-expression. However, the road to acceptance of such a personal artistic expression, was and continues to be, a difficult one. Remaining fixated in a style reminiscent of the caricatures she enjoyed looking at while reading the Sunday comic strips as a child, coupled with a subconscious, if not conscious, rejection of academic principles, has produced a constant anxiety over the act of painting. She has confessed,"If!can't get a tube of green open, I'll use a blue one that is:' The evolutionary process of this artist has often involved the working out of repressed emotions. To this day she is tense while painting and executes her pieces as quickly as possible, fearing that losing the idea will prevent her from completing the work. Malcah Zeldis' initial efforts were executed in pastel colors, "I think because I was afraid:' she says. As her self-assurance improved, she says, that quickly changed. Bold colors became a stylistic signature. The descriptive quality found in her first major painting Petrushka, based on the ballet, is in contrast to her next paintings which were also based upon another medium: Beauty and the Beast and the autobiography of Satchmo. Inspired after seeing Cocteau's film, Zeldis painted Beauty holding a mirror showing a likeness of the Prince, thus furthering the story beyond the scene depicted. Captivated by Louis Armstrong's rags-to-riches autobiography, she painted him blowing his up52

Beauty and the Beast; Circa 1972: Oil on masonite; 17 x 23"; Private collection.

held trumpet. Her attempt at establishing a single light source, here depicted in a hot red against a vibrant blue and yellow background, suggests to the intuitive viewer the ambiance of sound characteristic of improvisatory jazz, as well as the atmosphere of the night club. Two other personalities which have intrigued Zeldis are the artist Andy Warhol and the film star Marilyn Monroe. The painting Andy and Marilyn symbolizes two of Zeldis' preoccupations: The accomplished artist and the quest for both spiritual and physical beauty in art and life. In her later paintings, Zeldis' subjects have metamorphosed from story figures to actual people (albeit fantasy "idols") whose life-stories have inspired her because she has identified with their struggle for personal freedoms in some way. Recording her childhood memories

also becomes an important aspect of Malcah Zeldis' artistic evolution, for it is in these efforts that her search for an identity begins. It is in Death of a Friend, that Zeldis poignantly describes her first encounter with the finality of death and the fragility of life. Cherry Picking reflects a moment in her socialization process when she exulted in the joy of exploration and camaraderie among friends on a sunny day in suburban Detroit. In paintings such as Family Seder, Zeldis focuses on her immediate family and the holiday traditions as dictated by her Jewish heritage. Issues like these become the overriding influences in shaping her interpretation of the meaning of her life experiences. As a child, Malcah Zeldis read the Bible. She became familiar with the sagas of Isaac, Moses, Hagar, Esther, Joseph and King David among others. While their stories were metaphors for The Clarion


A teaching the virtues of morality, they also served, in this instance, to help Zeldis formulate an objective to her painting — that of telling the story. Biblical subjects notwithstanding, Malcah Zeldis comes closer to selfidentification by examining the influences of her environment. In such genre paintings as Bloomingdale's (I Am Blind), Miss America, Street Scene in Brooklyn, Roseland and Subway, people, situations and circumstances are depicted which have enriched her life and from which she draws some understanding of her role and place in society. According to Zeldis, an artist also wishes to reveal oneself. SelfPortrait in a Mirror, Nude on a Couch and Burmese Days are three renditions in a series of nude paintings which deal with self exploration. While the figures are in fact simple statements, they are unflinchingly confrontational and as such, serve the artist's intention to express a desire to dominate the viewer by having the last word. "I have been told that I'm sensuar Zeldis admitted. Could the viewer think otherwise? Personal religious experiences of the American folk painter have long served as primary sources of inspiration for artistic expression. By recounting past and present Jewish ceremonies and family traditions, Zeldis strengthens the bond between herself and her heritage. Blowing the Shofar and In Shule illustrate Zeldis' reverance for the laws of the Torah. The pulsing vibrancy of the imagery rendered in bold, unshaded tones of red, black and white seen in Sabbath Service captures the kinetic energy of devotional ritualism. Contrasting dramatically with the renditions of spiritual experiences of the formal Jewish services are the religious holidays and ceremonies, warmly remembered in the simplistic Summer 1988

Blowing the Shofar;1984; Oil on masonite;12 x 16"; Private collection.

yet narrative portraits of her family as seen in Mother of the Bride, My Wedding and Grandmother Lights the Candles. During her nine years in Israel, Zeldis focused on her identity as a Jew. Part of that self-identification process involved seeing herselfin relation to the surrounding Arabs. In a Bedouin Tent remains a striking example of Zeldis' ability to use colorful imagery to faithfully portray an historically nomadic society possessing so much spiritually, yet so little materially. In her search for self-awareness, Zeldis feels she is constantly struggling to free herself from the psychological bondage of feeling isolated. Describing herself as one who possesses wide mood swings, she longs to overcome social inhibitions and the fear and anxiety such inhibitions produce. Portraying those who, in the mind of Zeldis, have achieved the status of

"latter-day saints" aids her in dealing with these concerns. For this artist, Abraham Lincoln, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Martin Luther King have all struggled for social freedoms. In personalizing the ideals espoused by these men, and others like them, she has identified with their principles and their fortitude to overcome adversity. These paragons of virtue number among those folk heroes who, for Zeldis, have raised the quality oflife for all people. Her idealistic visions are also evident in her series depicting the Peaceable Kingdom. In these paintings Zeldis depicts the world the way she wishes it could be by placing her heroes within quasi-realistic settings which are an amalgam of different elements remembered from past environments. If, in Zeldis' art, her perception of reality as captured in her color, form, imagery and storytelling ability encompasses not only the meaning of what existed, but affords the viewer insight into the artist's emotional reactions to what she has painted, then the work of Malcah Zeldis will survive the test of time. If, furthermore, during a future viewer's visceral communication with the artist's intentions, one will feel of her paintings, "They are what was;' then it may not be an overstatement to say they exist as a product of some sort of genius. Is there a higher compliment for an artist? All quotations and the information contained in this article are based on interviews with the artist on December 10, 1981 and October 10, 1983. Henry Neimann, a Ph.D. candidate at New York University specializing in American Primitive Arts, is an instructor at the Museum of American Folk Art's Folk Art Institute. He is guest curator of the exhibition Malcah Zeldis: American SelfTaught Artist which will be presented by the Museum of American Folk Art at the 80 Washington Square East Galleries at New York University from July 20 to September 9,1988. 53


BOOK REVIEWS

FOLK LIFE STUDIES FROM THE GILDED AGE: OBJECT,RITE, AND CUSTOM IN VICTORIAN AMERICA Edited by Simon J. Bronner xiv + 219 pp., 16 illustrations Published by UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor and London, 1987 $39.95 hardcover This book brings together under one cover fifteen essays and addresses by figures prominent in the early study of folklife in America. The reprinted contributions of these eleven men and one woman provide a useful and timely reintroduction to the personalities and ideas prominent during what editor Simon Bronner calls the "gilded age ethnological boom:' The earliest piece reprinted here dates from 1887; the latest is from 1907. Most of the writings are from the 1890s. As a group they constitute a compact and accessible sampler of seminal scholarship written when folklife study was in its infancy. Century-old scholarship is worth reprinting for at least two fairly obvious reasons: First, because it has enduring intellectual value and, second, because it is a cultural artifact that provides insight into its period. Of these alternatives, the latter seems dominant here. The majority of these pieces strike me as more valuable as cultural specimens of an era than as contributions to current scholarly dialogue. Together, however, these specimens comprise an excellent record of the interests and assumptions of the people who studied folklife in this country a century ago. By themselves, the writings would have made adequate sense but Simon Bronner has used his considerable skills as a cultural historian and bibliographer to provide deep contextualization. In his preface and introduction, Bronner sketches an overview of the cultural and intellectual climate in which these people worked. He reminds us of the tension between the late Victorians' admiration for restraint and propriety and their attraction to exoticism and the fantastic. He helps us recognize that these essays reflect their authors' ambivalance toward the people and cultures they studied. While convinced of the superiority of their own thought and behavior over those of lesser peoples, they simultaneously found in these others dimensions of feeling and instinct they missed in their own lives. Condescen54

sion and respect jostle each other uncomfortably in these pages. Many elements unify this collection of essays. One is the sense of importance in recording and reporting data that so many of the authors seemed to feel. Most pervasive, however, is the impact of the doctrine of evolution. The essays reprinted here repeatedly cast their discussions within that conceptual framework. In a sense, evolution is stamped on nearly every page. Bronner introduces each of the reprinted essays with an excellent short biographical and bibliographical essay. These essays help readers gain a fuller sense of the accomplishments of the authors and of the place of the reprinted piece in their total work. Bronner has organized the essays into four groups. The first, which contains two essays, he calls "Doctrines and Guides:' Here, Otis Mason stakes out the basic terms and territory of folklore while Fletcher Bassett identifies how and what folklorists might collect. The second part of the volume reprints five essays under the heading of "Groups and their Customs:' W.J. Hoffman's essay sketches the folklore and material culture of the Pennsylvania Germans. Stewart Culin's piece, the first of three reprinted in this book, outlines folk customs and medicines of Chinese Americans. George E. Vincent discusses the material culture and folklife of the Appalachian region of America, based on a four-day ride through the region. Fanny D. Bergen is represented by an expository piece on the folklore of American children and Frank Hamilton Cushing by an essay on what he calls "manual concepts" in the culture of the Zuni Indians. The third section deals with "Types of Objects and Rites:' Here Bronner offers four essays — Stewart Culin's exploration of American primitive art and ornament; a brief description of decoration on Southern black graves by H. Carrington Bolton and Ernest Ingersoll; George Wharton James' exploration of so-called primitive inventions; and John G. Bourke's treatment of folk foods in the Rio Grande Valley and Northern Mexico. "Interpretations from Museums and Collections" is the title of Bronner's last section. Here Otis Mason writes about the traps of American Indians and offers a classification system for them. Washington Matthews

examines sacred objects associated with Navajo rites. Stewart Culin describes the exhibition of games he designed for the Columbian exposition and Henry Mercer discusses his historical interpretation of American folklife based on the collection of tools he was amassing in Pennsylvania in the late nineteenth century. In all, the collection covers considerable ground, much of it very familiar today. Readers will easily be able to see strands of continuity running from the late nineteenth century to the present. Unless their interests are historiographic, however,they will learn little from some of the essays. Does this book contain writing of continuing intellectual value? I think the answer is yes;some of the inclusions still merit very close reading. For example, the fertile mind of Stewart Culin is well represented. His essays are typically deep, subtle, and well developed. Washington Matthews' discussion of the sacred objects of the Navajos is an important demonstration that shows the purposes or uses of objects may transcend the objects themselves. As Matthews put it at the outset of his piece,"The label is more important than the specimen:' In this reprinted lecture, originally delivered to the Third International Folklore Congress at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, he shows how apparent trifles ("You would scarcely pick up these trifles if you saw them lying in the gutter ...") can be critical components in important cultural construction. The point is still valid today; this masterful piece merits rereading. From my perspective, the most useful and intellectually exciting essay is Otis Mason's discussion ofthe traps of American Indians. Mason operated on the assumption of the unity of culture. The subsequent collision of his views with Franz Boas's emphatic cultural relativism is explained in Bronner's introduction and again at the head of the essay. In this piece Mason ignores issues of culture to generate a typology based on purpose and mechanism. On one hand, Mason can be faulted for failing to address issues of culture but, on the other, his essay remains a brilliant and impressive tour de force. Of all the pieces, Mason's seems to offer the most to contemporary scholarship. Mason's analytical powers, coupled with his sweeping vision and transcultural perspective, helps us better comprehend the fundamental unity of humanThe Clarion


PATRICK

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BOOK REVIEWS

kind. Much scholarship focuses on the different and distinctive in cultures but the greater need may be to understand commonalities and continuities. In sum, this is a significant book. Not all of it is particularly fun to read and sometimes the evolutionary perspective and the accompanying racism and condescension become unpalatable. But on the whole, it is a fine piece of interpretive historiography. The sense of excitement about new discoveries, about new ideas and insights felt by these writers a century ago, is contagious and invigorating. And, for me, the opportunity to encounter Otis Mason's brilliant essay more than justifies the rest of the book. I am not a prophet but I would be willing to bet that this essay and the vision behind it will have a renewed impact on folklife and material culture writing in the next few years. If it does, Bronner can take credit. Even if it does not, Bronner deserves thanks for so capably presenting this thoughtful homage to these pioneers of American folklife scholarship. —Kenneth L. Ames Kenneth L. Ames teaches decorative arts and material culture in the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture,jointly sponsored by the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware. He is the author ofBeyond Necessity:Art in the Folk Tradition and an occasional commentator on the folk art scene.

AN AMERICAN SAMPLER: FOLK ART FROM THE SHELBURNE MUSEUM National Gallery of Art, Washington 212 pages, color and black and white illustrations Produced by the editors' office, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1987 $18.00 softcover. The introductory essays for this catalogue for a major traveling show — selections from Vermont's Shelburne Museum — are as important as the 121 plates.(They are all in color except for one in black-and-white, for no apparent reason, unimportant but noticeable.) First for the essays. Benjamin Mason begins with a delightful account, illustrated with 25 photographs,of Electra Havermeyer Webb, founder of the Shelburne Museum. Included are family stories and events from 56

the early years of the Museum. Jane C. Nylander's "Flowers from the Needle" is an equally pleasurable critical presentation of a selection of coverlets and quilts that are of major importance in the Museum's collection, and splendidly illustrated in the catalogue. The introductions to each of the nine chapters, one for each category in the collection, are succinct, knowledgeable summaries, exactly right for a teaching museum like Shelburne. There are only a few things I miss: Despite the fact that it couldn't travel, the wonderful Stencil House could have been included in a photograph. Much more important, why, in this "Sampler;' were the paintings and painted furniture not represented? Carter Brown, in his "Foreword;' tells us that in planning the exhibition the National Gallery editors chose to concentrate on textiles and sculpture, "recognized as Shelburne's greatest strengths:' But including samples of some other wonderful things, especially paintings that represent the greatest strengths in the entire field of folk art, might have been a better decision. The splendid Garden of Eden, a five-star work by Erastus Salisbury Field, is in itself, in the Guide Michelin sense, worth a visit. While the catalogue is very attractive, there are some minor flaws that should be mentioned. I wish the backgrounds of the illustrations hadn't been so strikingly varied that their colors seem, in many spreads, to dominate the works. And there is some very dubious dating of the pieces: the Fish with Flag sign — a century off — is a striking example. Some caption dates are also inconsistent — the photograph of the Ticonderoga's last trip in 1955, followed by Mrs. Webb with the Ticonderoga on its overland haul to the Museum in 1954. In addition, a few captions lack dates and artists' first names altogether. My real quarrel — and I mean this word — is with the key introductory essay by David Park Curry, titled "Rose-colored Glasses: Looking for 'Good Design' in American Folk Art:' I've never met Mr. Curry, but I feel sure that he must wear black glasses and pick his precarious way with a seeingeye dog. To sum up his point of view about folk art as I understand it from his article: "Folk Art" (the quotes are his) is art only in the minds of the people who have been collecting and writing about it for the past 50 years.

To view it as art ("good design") is to see it distorted through those rose-colored glasses. Mrs. Webb, I hasten to affirm, needed no glasses at all. She warmly appreciated folk art and had a clear view of her museum's purpose in collecting: She wanted a well-rounded collection with the best examples, in terms of quality, that could be found. Mr. Curry's dark and smoggy look at the folk art field — the subject of the catalogue he introduces — seems to me a giant step backward in its long and distinguished history. I readily admit that my comments may be questioned as not quite objective. I always enjoy seeing my books mentioned in important texts or bibliographies, yet here I find that they are listed as the best examples of the most mistaken ideas. Truly, this amused rather than irritated me. What seems to upset Mr. Curry is that my publications "perpetuate the aesthetic ideas of the 1930s' that antiquated point of view that the best of folk art, like that of any other art, is of primary interest for its quality as art. What is revealed about the personality of the artist, and his or her time and place, are of course key aspects of what have always made folk art, or any art, of special interest, too. But to find "looking for 'good design' in American folk art" an outdated aberration seems most eccentric today, and goes backward much further than the 1930s — to the time when folk art was considered a lowly relic from past times, relegated to attics or ashcans. To end on a pleasant note: I greatly admire Shelburne and am delighted that it is to become an itinerant museum through 1990 in its travel to seven museums. I knew Electra Webb quite well because of our mutual obsession with folk art, and am sure she would have been most pleased with this program. This is an adventurous trip for the museum, and Mrs. Webb relished adventure. I took the last trip of the paddle-wheel steamboat Ticonderoga with her on Lake Champlain, and some time before that she told me at lunch in her New York apartment how she had bought it. In her words: "Watson was away, I had to go to the auction alone, and when I got home I called him. I said, 'Watson, I've done probably the silliest thing I've ever done in my life. I've just bought the Ticonderoga for the Museum. [She didn't realize then that she'd need to build two miles of railroad track to get it The Clarion


Robert Cargo

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BOOK REVIEWS

there.] Watson just said,'My dear Electra, you've done far sillier things in your life:" She was a brilliant and clearsighted woman, Mr. Curry, with 20/20 vision — and no rose-colored glasses! She saw folk art, as Carter Brown, Director of the National Gallery, tells us in his "Foreword!'"on two levels — as aesthetically pleasing works in their own right and as wonderful reminders of American life and culture!' — Jean Lipman Jean Lipman was Editor of Art in America magazine for thirty years, then Editor of Publications at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has authored twenty books on various aspects of American art, and about 100 articles, many on folk art and artists. She has also organized a number of major traveling exhibitions for the Whitney Museum, the Hudson River Museum, and the Museum of American Folk Art. Lipman has also worked as an artist since 1950.

BAKING IN THE SUN: VISIONARY IMAGES FROM THE SOUTH Exhibition catalogue with essays by Andy Nasisse and Dr. Maude Wahlman 148 pages, color and black and white illustrations Published by University Art Museum, University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, Louisiana, 1987 $25.00 softcover In one of the biographies in this catalogue an 83-year-old black artist, Mary T. Smith — a master who is just now beginning to receive the attention she deserves — is described as greeting visitors to her environment with 'hebephrenic' energy! Hebephrenic is defined as a "form of schizophrenia characterized especially by incoherence:' Is this nitpicking on the part of this reviewer? Hardly. The use of that word is only indicative of the many problems with this publication. Baking in the Sun is the catalogue for a traveling exhibition from the collection of Warren and Sylvia Lowe first presented by the University Art Museum at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. All of the artists are from the South, which seems to be the reason they are all included here. Though the two essays — by Andy Nasisse and Maude Wahlman — focus on black artists, those included are both black and white. 58

C and W;Mary T. Smith;1983;Enamelpaint on tin; 23 x 28";from the book Baking in the Sun: Visionary Images from the South. Andy Nasisse's essay may be one of the better attempts at summing up the problems of this field thus far. The difficulty in the beginning of the essay is his attempt to reconcile European and American concepts, folklorist and aesthetic theory, and place a sociological bias on the whole stew. The problems arise because regardless of Dubuffet, Cardinal and various American theorists, the outsider artist is not a sociological phenomenon. He is not outside society. He or she is usually hypersensitive to the very core of our culture, drawing off the ecstasies and poisons like a visionary soul doctor from deep inside the culture. I also take issue with Nasisse's contention that "the occurrence of visionary and outsider artists is in proportion to the degree of non-acceptance by the dominant culture:' Do I take this to mean that if dealer Mary Boone doesn't dig it there will be more ofit? This art is the art made the first time art was ever made. It has always been here. It is dangerous to corral it in a deadend theory. There is a magical point where all real art coincides and "trained" or "untrained" no longer matters. The whole concept of "mainstream" is challenged and subverted by outsider art. There follows several lush paragraphs of doting regionalism. Granted the AfricanAmerican phenomen has some unimpeachable Southern roots but visionary art occurs everywhere. There are, thus far, no valid exclusive theories. We will lose the real beauty and drama of self-taught art if we corner it anywhere. The essay changes once Nasisse begins to apply his own intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic observations to individual artists.

For example: "The role of the artist or visionary is to reveal mystic levels of objective reality. The appreciation of these phenomena requires the willingness to suspend our dependence of rational verification and actively seek to mystify experience. It enhances life to believe that when Mary T. Smith paints Here I Am'on rusty tin, that she is speaking for us all in our need to proclaim the fact of our being:' Finally someone is stating what we are all working on the cutting edge of art theory to achieve — the ultimate suspension of disbelief and the shifting of perspective to include the visionaries on the continuum of world art. Nasisse is a keen observer and his insights into the actual work of these individuals is exciting to read. Maybe this is because when Nasisse is one on one with these artists he stops trying to justify them to us — with the endless deadening comparisons to Europe and the patronizing trek back to Africa — and engages them truly on their own terms. These are Americans, after all, not excolonials, after 400 years. One wishes that Nasisse did not write this essay for this particular catalogue but could expand his ideas out to the extension they sorely need. He leaves us thirsty for more knowledge and the photos in the book only partially back him up. I find the presence of Maude Wahlman's factfilled and well-written essay gratuitious, despite the validity of its ideas. I am not criticizing the content. Robert Farris Thompson has been the one to consciously tackle the idea of an aesthetic language for African-Atlantic culture and this essay is a further illustration of many of his ideas. More interesting and germane at this point would be a discussion of affinities and coincidences and conscious uses of cultural memory by individual artists rather than the non-stop pointing out of formal similarities and unconscious memories and all the obvious parallels. We want to know more about African-American artistic culture and aesthetics. We want to know, for example, about the black trained artists influenced by the vogue for tribal arts who went to the South to teach workshops during the WPA days. We want to know through specific indepth fieldwork the aesthetic criteria of the individual artists. I cannot see how this essay is relevant to this catalogue. Nasisse hit a lot closer to home. Wahlman seems to The Clarion


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BOOK REVIEWS

have a confused concept of what an artist is about: "Many African-American visionary artists are inspired by dreams. Not the dreams of idiosyncratic artists, the dreams of visionary artists revive cultural imagery from the culture of their childhood. Their dreams are culturally conditioned!' Isn't it dangerous to say that art by African-Americans, no matter what form it takes, comes from unconscious memories of the old culture? Where is the modern individual allowed to sing? Isn't this what has caused the individual innovator and genius to be so long ignored in African Art, pushing the uniqueness of his visions down in order to further a mythical concept of stabilization in tribal aesthetics? How many names of African creators were lost because of this thinking? African-American art is not all improvised as Wahlman says it is. Improvisation is a valid artistic working technique and only part of the picture. All art is a syncretized art; old forms combined to create new ones. But ultimately it is the positive and conscious choice of the artist to pick what sources of inspiration he or she wants to use. All of this leads to the selection of the artists in the catalogue. Because this is a single private collection and knowledge of collecting circumstances (such as unavailability of masterpieces, etc.) should not enter the review, I will just comment on several things that caught my attention: I found no overall binding together of the choices other than that they appear in the Lowe's collection and that they are from the South. It is certainly not an encyclopedic Southern representation: No Traylor, St. E.O.M.,Jesse Aaron,or Will Edmondson— very little early material. These are for the most part artists who have been found since the Corcoran show in 1981. We are not told who wrote the biographies and so are left to assume they were written by the Lowes. The bios are fairly straightforward. The artists are described for us and thus a bit distanced. There is little insight along the lines Nasisse put forward in his essay. We are being tantalized with select tidbits of information, a problem facing most catalogues of this ilk. The quality of the works used are mixed, in my opinion. This is a hodge-podge of masters and minor luminaries and we are not given any criteria for why they were chosen. Bessie Harvey, whose majority of vision is in wood, is Summer 1988

exhibited as a ceramicist. This may be an attempt to show work that is "unusual" for each artist, but in some cases the choices are the best quality. In summation,I am left confused as to the purpose of this catalogue. It is not an aesthetic expression, nor does it seem to really care about the art-historical viewpoint, Nasisse and Wahlman notwithstanding. The work does not illustrate the essays. This is a major flaw. You can't just get two authorities to talk about black art and then throw some black artists into a show and hope the results will somehow meld. It is not an anthropological or folkloric catalogue. It is not even a regionalistic look at the best of the South. It is not a conceptual catalogue; the choices are too disparate for that. It does not serve as an introduction to the field. At best it is a document of a show of some pieces from the Sylvia and Warren Lowe collection with essays by Nasisse and Wahlman. Maybe that is all it was intended to be. —Randall Seth Morris Randall Seth Morris is a writer, collector, and coowner of Cavin-Morris, Inc. He is writing a book about outsider art.

HEARTS & HANDS:THE INFLUENCE OF WOMEN AND QUILTS ON AMERICAN SOCIETY By Pat Ferrero, Elaine Hedges and Julie Silber 109 pages, color and black and white illustrations Published by the Quilt Digest Press, San Francisco, California, 1987 $29.95 hardcover; $19.95 softcover A well-researched and carefully-documented history of quilts and quilting, Hearts and Hands adds to our knowledge of the relationship between quiltmaking and significant historical events, including the emancipation of the slaves, the temperance movement, and the expansion of America's frontier. While women's roles in these movements and events have, over the last two decades, begun to be documented, the relationship of quiltmaking to past events has not until now been undertaken. In the nineteenth century, quilts were not only used as bedcoverings. They also served to connect women to social and political movements, to remind them of homes and

friends left behind as they ventured Westward, to provide beauty and color in otherwise bleak surroundings, and as a means of raising money. Adding to our knowledge of quilting in the nineteenth century, Hearts and Hands is at the same time careful not to present as fact, ideas which have not as yet been proven correct. For example, on the relationship of nineteenth century American slave quilts to the narrow strips of fabric woven on West African looms, the authors note that,"Speculation about the prevalence of strip quilts based on the narrow looms used in West Africa at the time of the slave trade remains speculation, since what strip quilts we in fact have are twentieth century examples:' The vintage photographs of women, alone with their families or other women,in factories, in front of sod houses or log cabins, and at quilting bees, give a clear sense of what nineteenth century women looked like, as well as what activities they engaged in. One especially wonderful photograph of a barn-raising in Vermont, circa 1900, shows three men perched like weathercocks atop the posts of a gigantic barn, suggesting that along with all the work, there was still time for having fun. The archival photographs are invaluable for the information they convey beyond the well-written text. The photographs do, however, create one problem: The detailed and, in some cases, extremely long comments that accompany them, inhibit the flow of the text and in places make the arguments hard to follow. While the captions are informative (they are frequently quotations from contemporaries ofthe people pictured), they detract from the experience of the reader. In spite of this minor flaw, however, Hearts and Hands is an excellent example of the high level of current quilt scholarship. It makes a significant contribution to the constantly evolving history of American quiltmaking and will be of interest to both the specialist and the general reader. —Judith Reiter Weissman Judith Reiter Weissman is Associate Professor of Art & Art Education at New York University where she is Coordinator of The Graduate Program in Folk Art Studies. Her latest book, written with Wendy Lavitt, is Labors ofLove: America's Textiles & Needlework, 1650-1930. (Alfred Knopf, 1987).

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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 Karen D. Cohen Judith A. Jedlicka Theodore L. Kesselman Susan Klein Kathryn Steinberg

Members Mabel H. Brandon Florence Brody Daniel Cowin Barbara Johnson, Esq. Margery G. Kahn Alice M. Kaplan William I. Leffler George H. Meyer Cyril I. Nelson Cynthia V.A. Schaffner William Schneck Ronald K. Shelp

Bonnie Strauss Maureen Taylor Robert N. Wilson Honorary Trustee Eva Feld Trustee Emeritus 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-Cate Robert Meltzer

Paul Oppenheimer Alfred R. Shands, HI Randy Siegel Hume R. Steyer

CURRENT MAJOR DONORS

The Museum of American Folk Art thanks its current major donors for their generous support:

$20,000 and above *American Express Company Judi Boisson Mr. & Mrs. Frederick M. Danziger Mrs. Eva Feld Estate of Morris Feld Foundation Krikor Foundation Tarex *IBM Corporation

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Jean and Howard Lipman Joseph Martinson Memorial Fund National Endowment for the Arts New York State Council on the Arts *1PaineWebber Group Inc. *Philip Morris Companies Herbert and Nell Singer Foundation, Inc. *United Technologies Corporation Estate of Jeannette B. Virgin Mrs. Dixon Wecter *The Xerox Foundation

$10,000-$19,999 Amicus Foundation

*Bankers Trust Company Coats & Clark, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. Peter Cohen The Joyce & Daniel Cowin Foundation Inc. Adele Earnest Fairfield Processing Corporation/Poly-file Theodore L. Kesselman The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation *Restaurant Associates Industries, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. George E Shaskan, Jr. Ronald K. Shelp Peter and Linda Solomon Foundation Springs Industries Mr. & Mrs. Robert Steinberg Barbara and Thomas W. Strauss Fund The Clarion


CURRENT MAJOR DONORS

$4,000-$9,999 *American Stock Exchange The Bemhill Fund *Bristol-Myers Fund Mrs. Martin Brody Tracy Roy & Barbara Wahl Cate *Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. The Clokeys Inc. The Cowles Charitable Trust Mr. & Mrs. Edgar M.Cullman Colonel Alexander W. Gentleman Richard Goodyear *Hoechst Celanese Corporation Barbara Johnson, Esq. Margery and Harry Kahn Philanthropic Fund Raymond Kane Mr. & Mrs. Robert Klein George Meyer *The Salomon Foundation The L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation Sotheby's Squibb Corporation Robert N.& Anne Wright Wilson Norman & Rosita Winston Foundation

$2,000-$3,999 *Chemical Bank *The Coach Dairy Goat Farm Country Home *Exxon Corporation Janey Fire Morris Greenberg Neil Greenberg Dr. & Mrs. Stanley Greenberg Justus Heijmans Foundation International Paper Company Foundation *Manufacturers Hanover Trust *Marsh & McLennan Companies *McGraw-Hill, Inc. *Metropolitan Life Foundation *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. *The Rockefeller Group, Inc. Robert T. & Cynthia V.A. Schaffner *Schlumberger Foundation, Inc. Mrs. Richard T. Taylor *Time Inc. Vista International Hotel

$1,000-$1,999 *Bill Blass, Ltd. *Chesebrough-Pond's Inc. *Con Edison *Culbro Corporation Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Summer 1988

*Daily News Mr. & Mrs. Richard Danziger Mr. & Mrs. Alvin Deutsch *Echo Foundation Mr. & Mrs. Alvin H. Einbender Virginia S. Esmerian John L. Ernst Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Ferguson Mr. & Mrs. Walter B. Ford II Evelyn Wahl Frank *Gannett Foundation Emanuel Gerard Renee Graubert Judith A. Jedlicka *Kallir, Philips, Ross, Inc. Susan Kudlow *Macy's New York Robert & Betty Marcus Foundation, Inc. Marstrand Foundation Christopher & Linda Mayer Helen R. & Harold C. Mayer Foundation Meryl & Robert Meltzer Steven Michaan *National Westminster Bank USA *Nestle Foods Corporation New York Council for the Humanities *The New York Times Company Foundation, Inc. Mattie Lou O'Kelley Leo & Dorothy Rabkin Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III Mr. & Mrs. Derek V. Schuster Rev. & Mrs. Alfred R. Shands ifi Mrs. Vera W. Simmons Philip & Mildred Simon Mrs. A. Simone Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Tananbaum H. van Ameringen Foundation Tony & Anne Vanderwarker David & Jane Walentas *Wertheim Schroder & Co.

$500-$999 Louis Bachman The Bachmann Foundation, Inc. Mr. & Mrs. Frank Barsalona David C. Batten Beaulieu Vineyard Marilyn & Milton Brechner Edward J. Brown Edward Lee Cave Codomiu U.S.A., Inc. Edward & Nancy Coplon Judy Angelo Cowen The Dammann Fund, Inc. David Davies Andre & Sarah de Coizart Mr. & Mrs. James DeSilva, Jr. Marion & Ben Duffy Foundation Richard C. & Susan B. Ernst Foundation Mr. & Mrs. Howard Fertig Jacqueline Fowler

Grey Advertising Inc. Cordelia Hamilton The Charles U. Harris Living Trust Denison H. Hatch Terry & Simca Heled Mr. & Mrs. Thomas C. Israel Cathy M. Kaplan Mary Kettaneh Jana K. Klauer Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Lauder Wendy & Mel Lavitt William & Susan Leffler Helen E. & Robert B. Luchars Hermine Mariaux Robin & William Mayer Gael Mendelsohn Burton W. Pearl, M.D. Joanna S. Rose Jon & Sue Rotenstreich Foundation Richard Sabino Mary Frances Saunders Mrs. Joel Simon Smith Gallery Richard & Stephanie Solar Robert C.& Patricia A. Stempel Texaco Philanthropic Foundation Inc. Mr. & Mrs. John R. Young Marcia & John Zweig

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: Gayle Potter Basso Robert Bishop Mary W. Carter Bequest of Ed Clein Joseph W. Fiske Richard C. Johnson & Jay Johnson Donald McKinney Steven Michaan Adrian Milton Sam Pennington

*Corporate Member 61


OUR INCREASED MEMBERSHIP CONTRIBUTIONS FEBRUARY-APRIL 1988

We wish to thank the following members for their increased membership contributions and for their expression of confidence in the Museum: Mrs. Alice K. Adesman, New York, NY Mr. 8z Mrs. Edward C. Anderberg, Laurel Hollow, NY B.J. Beck, New York, NY Paula Bennett, New York, NY Mr. & Mrs. Arnold Bierman, New York, NY Marilyn W. Bottjer, Eastchester, NY Lucien E Boulais, Glastonbury, CT Jane Braverman, Prairie Village, KS Marilyn & Milton Brechner, Sands Point, NY Mrs. Albert W. Brown, Stow, NY Mrs. Robert W. Bruce III, New Canaan, CT

Joel Goldstein, Ringwood, NJ Dr. & Mrs. W. Stanley Gore, Lake Charles, LA Patricia Grant, New York, NY The Grass Roots Gallery, New York, NY Theodore S. Green, New York, NY Mrs. Theodore Greenebaum, Scarsdale, NY Linda L. Hendryx, Shingle Springs, CA Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Henkel, Miami,FL James Berry Hill, New York, NY Anne Holmes, Plano, TX Laura N. Israel, Kings Pt., NY Mr. & Mrs. Thomas C. Israel, New York, NY Mrs. Allan P. Jaffe, New Orleans, LA Mr. & Mrs. Victor Johnson, Meadowbrook, PA Donald Johnson, Newark, NJ Gay Miller Kahn, Atlanta, GA Mr. & Mrs. Elliott Kamen, New Hope,PA Allen Katz, Woodbridge, CT Lee Katzoff, Yardley, PA L. Kavanagh, Edgartown, MA Carol Kearney, York, PA Dr. & Mrs. Arthur B. Kern, Pawtucket, RI Mr. & Mrs. David Krashes, Princeton, MA

Frances Carnahan, Harrisburg,PA Michele Cohen, New York, NY Suzanne Courcier, Austerlitz, NY Barbara Dalton & Daniel Cannizzo, Millburn, NJ Sarah De Beaumont, London, England Marsha Dubrow, Upper Montclair, NJ

Bernard Lauze, Paris, France Betty Levine, Lexington, MA Mr. & Mrs. Donald Levine, New Canaan, CT Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth C. Lewis, New York, NY Frances & James Lieu, Jamaica Estates, NY

Leslie Eisenberg, Brooklyn, NY John C. Fernsell, Wayland, MA Mrs. A. Figur, New Rochelle, NY Pamela L. Foster, Birmingham, AL Richard Gachot, Old Westbury, NY Daniel M. Gantt & Suesanna K. Vorhees, New York, NY Barry H. Garfinkel, New York, NY

Eleanor Nicolai Mcquillen, Shelburne, VT Ralph K. Merrill, Fremont, MI Adrian Milton, New York, NY Ann Frederick Oppenhimer, Richmond, VA Martin Packard, Comstock Park, MI Louis & Colleen Picek, West Branch, IA Saralee Pincus, New York, NY Rita L. Pollitt, Chappaqua, NY Cathy Rasmussen, Hewlett, NY Armin Rembe, Albuquerque, NM Mary Frances Saunders, Amarillo, TX Mr. & Mrs. V.L. Schwenk, Basking Ridge, NJ Alison Seymour, Seattle, WA Pat Haynes Sislen, Wood-Ridge, NJ Sanford Smith, New York, NY Richard & Stephanie Solar, New York, NY Mrs. Selden Spencer, Aiken, SC H.H. Stansbury, Catonsville, MD Martha Roby Stephens, New York, NY Tammy Sumich, Troutdale, OR E.A. Sutherland, Alburg, VT Marcia Teichner, South Miami, FL Beverly & James Voytko, Ramsey, NJ Susan Whiting, Brooklyn, NY Rob Williamson, Suwanee, GA Mrs. Harold Wise, New York, NY Anne W. Worthington, Tequesta, FL Valerie B. Young, Hopewell, NJ

Beatrice S. Matz, Holliston, MA Mrs. R.B. McDonough Jr., Little Rock, AR Eileen Marie McMahon, Bayonne, NJ

Florence Zipkin, Ossining, NY Sheila Zuhusky, Southampton, NY

OUR GROWING MEMBERSHIP FEBRUARY-APRIL 1988

The Museum trustees and staff extend a special welcome to these new members:

Karen Absher, Houston, TX Lillian Altshuler, New York, NY Barbara Archer, Atlanta, GA Mrs. John R. Arwood, North Caldwell, NJ Joan L. Bailey, Miami, FL Margaret Joy Bailey, Charlottesville, VA Sharon Baker, Seattle, WA Marianne E. Balazs, Ft. Lee, NJ 62

Mr. Joel Banker, New York, NY Patricia Bear, New York, NY Mrs. Mary E Beck, Mt. Kisco, NY Mrs. Charlotte T. Beem, Anaheim, CA Patricia Bell, Califon, NJ Mrs. Shirley Berman, Massapequa Park, NY L. Edwin Bingenheimer, Salem, SC Sharon K. Blair, Malvern, PA Judy Block, Summit, NJ Mary A. Blunk, Watseka, IL Mrs. Tyrrell J. Bond, Brownsville, TN Susan H. Bossey, Sherman, CT Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Brennan IV, Scarsdale, NY

Mr. Gordon Brown, Canton Center, OH Jacque Browning and Norman Jones, Brooklyn, NY Nancy M. Bruce, Winnet, KA Mark Burdett, New York, NY Stephanie Burns, Dickerson, MD James Branch, Cabell Library, Richmond, VA Lin R. Cargo, Bloomfield Hills, MI Mr. Edward Lee Cave, New York, NY Ellen Checota, Milwaukee, WI Peter S. Clark, New York, NY Mrs. Mildred W. Clifton, N. Springfield, VA The Clarion


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OUR GROWING MEMBERSHIP

Margot Cohen, Cedarhurst, NY Sally Ann Cohen, New York, NY Mrs. Florence M. Cohen, New York, NY Mrs. Robert Cohen, Youngstown, OH Jane A. Conway, Birmingham, MI Ms. Barbara Cotter, Portsmouth, NH Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA Jo Crary, Fort Thomas, KY Dr. Patricia Crowe, Arlington, VA Deborah Cummins, Barrington Hills, IL Patricia Cunningham, Bronx, NY Dr. Robert B. Daroff, Shaker Heights, OH Ludwig Datene, New York, NY Louise Dattila, New York, NY Mildred D. Deck, Pearisburg, VA Eugene J. Denitz, Allentown, PA Nancy Dorer, Summit, NJ Norma R. Dowd, Oakmont, PA Laurie Dykehouse, Hudsonville, MI Terri P. Epstein, Pennington, NJ Lynn Evans, Georgetown, TX Joel R. Feidelman, Washington, D.C. Ellin Feld, Garrison, NY Janet M. Finn, Bettendorf, IA Ms. Lee Foley, Warwick, RI Paul M. Ford, Black Rock, CT Della J. Foster, San Angelo, TX Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA Ruth Geneslaw, Haverstraw, NY Stephen P. Georgeson, Atlanta, GA Gilbert Tweed Assoc., New York, NY Mrs. J.W. Gilbert, Jr., Glendale, CA Cynthia Gingold, New York, NY Kurt A. Gitter, New Orleans, LA Helene S. Gold, Brooklyn, NY Esther Goldman, Lauderhill, FL Salvador Gonzalez, Shaker Heights, OH Phyllis Gordon, Montreal, Canada Joyce Gordon, Oxford, OH G. Grant, New York, NY June B. Griffiths, Springtown, PA William Halterman, New York, NY Mary Hayes, Norwalk, CT Mr. Terry Henley, New York, NY Anne Hobbs, Oakville, Ontario, Canada Elizabeth Hornor, Atlanta, GA Mrs. John Hucko, La Jolla, CA Helen E.S. Iffland, New York, NY Robert Rand Isen, Esq., Philadelphia, PA Rhett S. Johnson, Dearborn, MO George R. Johnson, Glastonbury, CT Betty G. Kahn, Highland Park, IL Keith N. Kelman, Newport Beach, CA Summer 1988

Cristina H. Kepner, Eastport, NY Gerard Kiernan, New York, NY Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York, NY Leora King, Altamonte Springs, FL Cathi King, Nashville, TN Thomas D. Kingery, Manchester Center, VT Marylys Klein, Scarsdale, NY Sylvia H. Kortan, Atlanta, GA Joan Kowalski, Lynbrook, NY Linda T. Kugler, Islip, NY Mr. Samuel Landau, New York, NY Kay LaRue, Delaware, OH John Laurent, York, ME Kay Leibel, Dallas, TX Jenny Leuthold, Folk Art Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland Ms. Hannah Lewis, New York, NY Libenia International, Milan, Italy Ann Elizabeth Lidy, Darien, CT James B. Lord, Roswell, GA Marianne Lubar, Milwaukee, IL Dean Lucker, Minneapolis, MN Anders S. Lunde, Chapel Hill, NC Richard Lyon, Dallas, TX Harold L. Mamelok, MD,Middleton, NY Bettina Patterson Manheim, Brooklyn, NY Doris G. Mantz, Glen Rock, NJ Franklin Mark, New York, NY Floreen Maroncelli, West Newbury, MA Karen and Eli Mastich, Athens, AL Shizuho Matsuo, New York, NY Mrs. ME Maxson, Northfield, IL Hilary E. McGovern, Amherst, MA Michael T. Meadows, Baltimore, MD Richard Merrick, Westport, Ontario, Canada Lionel R. Miller, Portland, OR Sandra Miller, New York, NY Mrs. Kenneth Millhiser, Piedmont, CA Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI Newell D. Mitchell, Brooklyn, NY I.N. Moller, Brooktondale, NY James Moore, New York, NY Joan Muehlmatt, Springfield, PA Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Museum of International Folk Art Library, Santa Fe, NM Dennis R. Newman, Jackson, NJ Felicia Nigro, Closter, NJ Tom O'Connell, New York, NY Kurt B. Opderbeck, Munich, West Germany Brett Y. Pabst, Oconomowoc, WI Jack Parker, St. Louis, MO Sue Parsons, Chicago, IL Aurora Peck, Brooklyn, NY Catherine A. Pennington, Staten Island, NY Katherine Phelps, Milwaukee, IL Paul E Phillips, Glencoe, MD Carolee Pollock, Wasilla, AK

Barbara Joan Poplawsky, Bronx, NY David Pottinger, Topeka, IN George Quay, Chagrin Falls, OH Quilts of America, New York, NY Janet Ratner, North Wantagh, NY Sally Veit Reed, New York, NY R.W. Rhyne & Co., Greensboro, NC Catherine M. Richter, Marco Island, FL Lynn M. Rix, Madison, WI Nancy Rosenfeld and Adam Tattelbaum, New York, NY Paula Rubenstein, New York, NY Cynthia Elyce Rubin, New York, NY Mrs. Alan Sagner, South Orange, NJ Audrey Sanchez, New York, NY Richard A. Schall, Gaithersburg, MD Martin Scherer, Mt. Vernon,NY Raymonda G. Schwartz, Avoca, NY James J. Scully, Brooklyn, NY Andrea Seabridge, Hamilton Sq., NJ Karen W. Sherlock, Woodside, NY Mrs. Irma Sherman, Great Neck, NY Morgan J. Sincock, Flourtown, PA Robert W. Skinner Inc., Bolton, MA Howard A. Smith, Mayodan, NC Katie Sobel, New York, NY Lita H. Solis-Cohen, Rydal, PA Marcia Spark, Tucson, AR Mrs. Van Spear, West Memphis, AR Kathryn H. Speert, Kenne, NY Muriel Stein, Brooklyn, NY Barbara A. Sullivan, Montauk, NY Adrian Swain, Morehead, KY Sally Tanner, Tampa, FL Meryl Tattelbaum, New York, NY Ms. Jephtha Tausig, New York, NY Joan Terrannova, Beechhurst, NY Sandra Thirtyacre, San Francisco, CA Mrs. Rodie R. Thompson, Woodbury, CT J.B. Toivonen, Fairfield, CT Jane Van Hoven, Winston-Salem, NC Kathee Versheck, New Hyde Park, NY Jean Vogel, Great Falls, VA Peter and Lisa Vogler, Kokomo,IN Ms. Claudia Wagner, New York, NY Nancy Webb, Tryon, NC Alice Weil, New York, NY Sandra L. Weinberg, New York, NY Juliet Weissberg, Brooklyn, NY Mrs. Anne Wesson, Peterborough, NH Bruce Wilt, Basking Ridge, NJ Michael Wilson, Westmount, Quebec, Canada Bob Withington, York, ME Carole Zabar, New York, NY Mrs. Sylvia Zeveloff, New York, NY Mrs. Grace Zimmerman, Holtwood, PA 63


MUSEUM NEWS COMPILED BY WILLA S. ROSENBERG

NEW DOCENT PROGRAM The Museum is initiating a program to recruit and train docent volunteers for work in the new Museum of American Folk Art/Eva and Morris Feld Gallery at Lincoln Square, on Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets, which will open early next year. Each docent will be expected to give four hours of his or her time weekly conducting tours of the Museum's collection and the current exhibition. Among the benefits to docents will be invitations to special Museum functions, lectures by exhibition curators, discounts on Museum trips and shop purchases, and the opportunity to enroll in four courses in the Museum's Folk Art Institute on a complimentary basis. Any docent wishing to continue studying at the Folk Art Institute will be able to do so at reduced fees. Mary Linda Zonana, Docent Coordinator, looks forward to learning of interest in joining this program; she expects to employ more than 100 docents to provide coverage during the twelve hours a day, seven days a week, that the Museum will remain open. The lectures and benefits for all docents (including two special courses) will begin September 7, 1988. To register, please call 212/988-9073 or write to Mary Linda Zonana do the Museum of American Folk Art, 444 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-7321.

FOLK ART INSTITUTE GRADUATES The first graduates of the Folk Art Institute of the Museum, Willa S. Rosenberg and Lee Kogan, were honored at a champagne reception at the Institute on May 16,1988. Having successfully completed the Certificate Program in Folk Art Studies, Rosenberg is now Assistant Editor of The Clarion and Kogan is the Shaskan Research Fellow for 1988 and serves as the Questionnaire and Research Coordinator for The New York Quilt Project.

64

Kicking off The New York Quilt Project were New York Senator Alfonse A. D'Amato, Project Director Phyllis A. Tepper (second from left), and members of the board of the Long Island Quilter's Society(from left) Kathee Versheck, Margot Cohen and Janet Ratner. THE NEW YORK QUILT PROJECT A day of torrential rains did not deter dedicated owners of antique New York State quilts from participating in the first Quilt Day of The New York Quilt Project on March 26,1988 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The results of their enthusiasm were many visual and graphic delights. The quilts varied from the most utilitarian to the most exquisite collages of elaborately embroidered and richly textured crazy quilts, all dating prior to 1940. A volunteers' orientation session was led by a consultant to the project, folklorist Deborah Blincoe. Publicity was extensive and proclamations were received from local town officials in Nassau County, as well as Governor Mario Cuomo who proclaimed the commencement of Quilts Days to be held in New York State. The success of the day can be attributed to the organization of the Long Island Quilter's Society and Museum volunteers who participated. Kathee Versheck coordinated both the volunteers' orientation day and the Quilt Day and was ably assisted by Janet Ratner and Margot Cohen. Museum personnel assisting Phyllis A. Tepper were Lee Kogan, Shaskan Fellow, graduate ofthe Folk Art Institute, and Research and Questionnaire Coordinator for the Project; Sheila Brummel, Administrative Assistant to Phyllis Tepper and student at the Folk Art Institute; Cathy Rasmussen, Director of Quilt Festival 2, Quilt Day Coordinator and student at the Folk Art Institute; Martha Leversuch, student in the

program at New York University and Programmer for the Questionnaire; and Paula Laverty, who handled publicity and prepared a video for use at Quilt Days. Tom Cuff, a member of the Friends Committee of the Museum,and Judy Shapiro, quilter and member of the Empire Quilters Guild also participated in the day. The second quilt day occurred on Saturday, April 23, 1988 at SUNY, Stony Brook, Long Island. Again, volunteers from local guilds, the Suffolk County Homemaker's Council and the Department of Student Union Activities and Craft Center documented and photographed 121 quilts brought in by their owners. Future dates and locations for upcoming Quilt Days are: July 30, 1988 at Roberson Center for the Arts and Sciences, Binghamton,NY;August 7,1988 at East Hampton Historical Society, East Hampton, NY; August 14, 1988 at East Hampton Historical Society, East Hampton, NY; September 10, 1988 at Suffolk County Historical Society, Riverhead, NY; October 1, 1988 at Oysterponds Historical Society, Orient, NY; and October 15, 1988 at Parrish Museum, Southampton, NY. Quilt collectors and owners who cannot attend Quilt Days are encouraged to write or call Phyllis Tepper, Director of the New York Quilt Project, Museum of American Folk Art, 444 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016, telephone 212/481-3080, for questionnaires or information.

The Clarion


Reprinted from Town & Country, Leslie Eisenberg Folk Art Gallery,"Museum-quality Americana from figureheads to a Demuth cigar-store indian."

"TRAMP ART" Sale

FOLK ART GALLERY 1187 Lexington Avenue New York, N.Y. 10028 (Between 80th & 81st Streets) (212) 628-5454

Custom Made Stretchers 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

1,5


Utl

MUSEUM NEWS

FOLK ART INSTITUTE The Fall session of the Museum's Folk Art Institute,which begins September 6, 1988, is now open for registration. Auditors are welcome on a space available basis at $15 a session. A reduced fee is offered to auditors who sign up for the whole course. For fully matriculated students of the Institute, the tuition is $75 a credit. Fees vary for the craft and heritage courses and are as listed below. The lecture series fees for members of the Museum or National Society of Colonial Dames are $25 for the series of four lectures and $8 for single lectures; for non-members the cost is $35 for the series and $10 for single lectures. Lectures will be followed by a reception. 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 01

ART OF THE WESTERN WORLD

3 credits

the course will be devoted to field trips and on-site discussion. The last part of the course will deal with historical and geographical examples. Both the architecture and related decorative arts will be studied.

FA 27

RELIGION IN FOLK ART 5:30pm-8:00pm

Instructor:

Gerard C. Wertkin Assistant Director of the Museum of American Folk Art

Religious folk art will be considered in its historical, geographical and cultural perspectives. The art studied will range from Colonial times to the present, from various regions of the country and from groups as diverse as the Shakers, the Eastern Orthodox and the Jewish communities.

FA 82

THE AMERICAN HOME:INVENTORIES AND INTERIORS

Wednesdays 10:00am-12:30pm Instructor:

Barbara Cate Director, Folk Art Institute Associate Professor of Art History

AMERICAN FOLK PAINTING Thursdays Instructor:

Mondays

5:30pm-8:00pm

Instructor:

Wilson O'Donnell Director of the New Jersey Historical Society

2 credits DATING PORTRAITS FROM AMERICAN COSTUMES

FA 83

9:30am-11:00am Robert Bishop Director of the Museum of American Folk Art

Instructor:

AMERICAN FOLK SCULPTURE Mondays

10:00am-12:30pm

Instructor:

Henry Niemann PhD Candidate in American Folk Art Studies

AMERICAN FOLK ARCHITECTURE

HANDS-ON CRAFT AND HERITAGE COURSES

3 credits

Wednesdays 5:30pm-8:00pm Instructor:

5-SESSION COURSES WS 503

ADVANCED GRAINING 5 Thursday Evenings 6:00 pm-8:00pm September 15, 22, 29, October 6, 13 Instructor:

Rubens Teles

Fee:

$80

Henry Niemann

A survey of domestic architecture in the vernacular tradition. The first half of

66

Elsa Brown Specialist in Costume Studies

This course is designed to help students date paintings using costume as the key. Stylistic changes and cultural influences on the dress of men, women and children, from 1700 to 1850 will be examined. The silhouette, color, textiles, jewelry, accessories and hair fashions of each period will be reviewed.

3 credits

An overview of all types of three-dimensional forms ranging from gravestones of the Colonial period, through figureheads and cigar store Indians of the 19th century to the idiosyncratic sculpture of contemporary folk artists.

FA 22

1 credit

5 Tuesdays 11:00am-1:30pm October 4, 11, 18, 25, November 1

General survey of folk painting ranging from portraits, landscapes, seascapes and genre painting to religious subjects, and painted furniture. Consideration of the influences on American painters of English, Dutch and Southwestern traditions and of prints, books and manuals.

FA 12

3 credits

Survey of the decorative arts in American homes, from the Colonial times through the 20th century, using extant house inventories to reconstruct the interiors. Focus on the continuity and change of the decorative arts through time, their social and historical importance within the American home.

This introductory course is intended to serve as background and to enable the student to evaluate folk art in the framework of art history.

FA 11

3 credits

Tuesdays

A concentration on the intricacies of graining, using combs, sponges, rags, brushes, putty and other traditional tools. Learn to do knots and the

The Clarion


MUSEUM NEWS

grains of specific woods,such as bird's eye maple and mahogany. Students will bring in an object to paint.

WS 504

ADVANCED MARBLEIZING

confections or potpourri. They can be used as table decorations or to hang on the Christmas tree.

WS 508

5 Thursday Evenings 6:00pm-8:00pm October 27, November 3, 10, 17, December 1 Instructor:

Rubens Teles

Fee:

$80

A concentration on the intricacies of marbleizing, using glazes and waterbased paints, as well as brushes, feathers and other unorthodox instruments. The students will bring in their own projects on which to work.

Friday

October 14th 10:00am-4:00pm

Instructor:

Nancy Young

Fee: Materials:

$65 $15

Learn to braid a wool rug by making a chair pad. You will be taught to measure, to calculate the amount of fabric, to lace, to use color and to create patterns. You will take home your piece and some of the tools. Bring scissors.

MAKING CLOTH DOLLS IN THE SPIRIT OF FOLK ART

WS 505

5 Thursday Afternoons 12 noon-2:00pm September 15, 22, 29, October 6,13

WS 509

Friday

October 28th 10:00am-4:00pm

Nancy Wells

Instructor:

Bill Accorsi

Fee: Materials:

$80 $10

Fee: Materials:

$65 $10

SINGLE FULL-DAY SESSIONS

Bill Accorsi, acclaimed for his colorful wooden sculptures and known for his whimsey and ingenuity, will teach you to make figures in the same spirit. He will supply the wooden cut-outs and found objects to be prepared and painted by the students. The theme of this session will be Christmas.

WS 510

SCENE PAINTING ON PANELS OR BOXES Friday

September 23rd 10:00am-4:00pm

Instructor

Rubens Teles

Fee: Materials:

$65 $10

WS 511 MINIATURE BASKETS MADE ON SHAKER MOLDS

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS Friday

November 4th 10:00am-4:00pm

Instructor:

Jana Emerick

Fee: Materials:

$65 $20

You will fashion four hand-crafted Victorian Christmas tree ornaments. Each one will be made in a different technique: paper and tinsel with chromolithograph scraps, die-cut Santa Claus dressed in cotton batting, glittering Dresden flats and a three dimensional cornucopia.

Learn to paint country scenes using color to create perspective, sponges to fashion trees, and antiquing techniques to add nostalgia to the paintings. Bring in a canvas, panel, box or whatever you wish to decorate.

WS 507

IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS: MAKING PAINTED WOODEN FIGURES

Instructor:

Step-by-step instructions on how to make your own dolls out of scraps of clothing, buttons, old jewelry, or new materials supplied by the instructor. You will cut the pattern, stuff the body, embroider the face, and add the hair and clothing. Bring a pair of scissors.

WS 506

LEARN TO BRAID A RUG

CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS MADE OF BREAD DOUGH Friday

November 11th 10:00am-4:00pm Nancy Wells $65 $10

Friday

October 7th 10:00am-4:00pm

Instructor:

Instructor

Meredith Betz

Fee: Materials:

Fee: Materials:

$65 $10

Learn to make little baskets of brown ash on traditional wooden Shaker molds (which you keep). These baskets are suitable for filling with

Summer 1988

You will learn to make a variety of figures and shapes to hang on your Christmas tree. Angels, dolls, stars, Santa Claus: and animals are among the hand-shaped ornaments you will make of pre-colored bread dough, paint and decorate.

67


G71 1

MUSEUM NEWS

FOLK ART INSTITUTE — CONTINUED LECTURE SERIES — MASTERS OF AMERICAN FOLK PAINTING Co-sponsored by the National Society of Colonial Dames October 4

JOHN BLUNT: PAINTER OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE Speaker-

October 11

Tuesday evenings 6:30-8:00pm October 25

Dr. Robert Bishop Director/Museum of American Folk Art

EDWARD HICKS: PASTORALS AND PEACEABLE KINGDOMS Speaker:

AMMI PHILLIPS AND HIS INFLUENCE ON OTHER FOLK ARTISTS Speaker:

Jacquelyn Oak Registrar/Museum of Our National Heritage Project Director of exhibition: M.W. Hopkins and Noah North

November 1

JOHN BREWSTER, JR: CONNECTICUT PORTRAIT PAINTER Speaker:

GRAVESTONE PHOTOGRAPHS BEQUEATHED Dr. Robert Bishop, Director ofthe Museum of American Folk Art, has announced that Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber have generously bequeathed to the Museum their collection of original glass plate negatives of gravestone photographs by Harriett Merrifield Forbes. There are approximately 1400 5x7" glass plate

negatives in this highly significant collection which will augment the outstanding collection of photographs already received from the Farbers that document traditional gravestone carving. These important materials, said Dr. Bishop, will be carefully preserved and shared with the public.

ACCESS TO ART FUNDING The Museum of American Folk Art is pleased to announce that its innovative Access to Art program will be underwritten by The Xerox Corporation. Funding by The Xerox Corporation will assist the Museum in implementing the first two phases of Access to Art: The Art Resources Directory for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons, to be published in the Fall of 1988 and a tactile exhibition to be presented at the Museum of American Folk Art/Eva and Morris Feld Gallery at Lincoln Square in the Summer of 1989. Access to Art is a comprehensive project dedicated to making art accessible to blind and visually impaired persons. The tactile exhibition, organized by Irma Shore, Director of Access to Art, and Elizabeth Warren, Curator of the Mu-

68

Mary Black Consulting Curator and former Director/Museum of American Folk Art

seum of American Folk Art, will consist of folk art objects that are part of the Museum's Education Collection. They will be accompanied by large print and braille format labels and brochures as well as Acoustiguide tours. Following its presentation at the Lincoln Square branch of the Museum, the exhibition will travel throughout the United States. The national scope of Access to Art will make a significant contribution to both the arts and special education of blind and visually impaired individuals, increasing resources for more than 10 million Americans. The generous support of The Xerox Corporation will also ensure the continuance ofthe program as a permanent activity of the Education Department.

Dr. Elizabeth M. Kornhauser Chairman of the Curatorial Department and Associate Curator of American Paintings/Wadsworth Atheneum

BOOK SALE Students of the Folk Art Institute had a rare opportunity to enrich their personal library collections while aiding the Library of the Museum of American Folk Art during a book sale at the Library during two weeks this Spring. Proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase much-needed library equipment. Organized largely through the untiring efforts of Alice Hoffman, the sale provided a means of disposing of duplicate and out-of-scope library materials — mainly duplicate books and pamphlets from Dr. Bishop's generous bequest, extra copies ofexhibition catalogs, unbound issues of periodicals, and other miscellaneous materials.

Alice Hoffman, left, who coordinated the successful book sale to benefit the Museum library with Barbara Cate, Director of the Folk ArtInstitute, and Edith Wise, Director of Library Services.

The Clarion


600 Exhibitors June 11-12 and Sept. 3-4 Sat. 10 am-6 pm,Sun. 9 am-4 pm Adm.$3, Early Adm. Sat. 7:30 am,$10 Farmington CT Polo Grounds, Exit 39 off1-84

MUSEUM NEWS

WISH LIST THANK YOU A special thank you to the donors of several generous gifts which have been made so far in response to the Museum of American Folk Art Wish List in the Spring 1988 issue of The Clarion. Janet Langlois sent a check in the amount of $230 to be used specifically for the purchase of a portable quilt display rack for The New York Quilt Project. Eugene Sheehy donated a portable electric typewriter for use by the Registrar in the permanent collection storage facility. Mr. Sheehy also donated a set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica to the Museum's library. The Museum looks forward to additional contributions toward the Spring 1988 Wish List, and remember, even the smallest donation ($1.89 for acid-free archival storage boxes) will make a difference!

Summer 1988

FOLK ART EXPLORERS' CLUB NEWS The Folk Art Explorers' Club fall schedule includes trips to Nantucket and Pennsylvania, a Halloween Graveyard Walking Tour and a Special November Patron Outing. • The three-day trip to Nantucket beginning September 16, 1988 includes visits to private collections and historical homes as well as time to enjoy the island's wonderful beaches and antique shops. • A day trip to the historical house museum, Boscobel, and two private homes will take place on Wednesday, October 12,1988. Our day trips sell out early, so make your reservations soon. • A guided Halloween walking tour of lower Manhattan graveyards will be held on October 27, 1988 in conjunction with the Museum's fall exhibition

of gravestone photographs, "Portraits in Stone;' at Federal Hall. • In early November a special Folk Art Explorers' Club tour for Patron Members will visit several historical houses and a wonderful private collection of patriotic quilts. Please call the Membership Office at 212/481-3080 for registration and up-todate information on all Folk Art Explorers' Club tours.

A recent visit excluded handbags.

69


MAKERS OF COLONIAL AND EARLY AMERICAN LIGHTING FIXTURES

VERMONT v NTIQUES

ADEALERS •

ASSOCIATION

FOURTEENTH ANNUAL

VERMONT ANTIQUES DEALERS' ASSOCIATION ANTIQUES SHOW & SALE

AUTHENTIC DESIGNS 17 The Mill Road, West Rupert, Vermont 05776 (802) 394-7713

AUGUST 5-7, 1988 Friday, August 5, 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Saturday & Sunday, August 6 & 7 10:00 A.M.to 5:00 P.M. ADMISSION $4.00 SNOWSHED LODGE

Catalogue $3.00 (From Route 4 follow the Killington Road for four miles)

40 SELECTED DEALERS For information call: 457-3437

newly arrived:

ANTIQUES AND

PRIMITIVE ARTS FROM THE INTERIOR OF

!B R ASI L!

62 West 50th Street 247-5611 Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Across from Radio City Music Hall

'COLLECTOR_ LAKESIDE, MICHIGAN

7(1

616 • 469 .4995


The Art ofAmerican Cooking Kathy Schoemer American Antiques and Decorations Route 116 at Keeler Lane North Salem, New York 10560 914/669-8464 Wednesday thru Sunday,12 to 5

From 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.

niiitue,s,and Stecata4iue,Mas

ON LONG BEACH ISLAND, NEW JERSEY 604 93toadwast

93evgnerztr491a,`n.,e46,41 08006

AIL.

FOLK ART * QUILTS * FURNITURE MARINE ARTIFACTS * DECOYS MARGARET RAPp PROPRIETRESS SUMMER SEASON STARTS END OF MAY UNTIL MID OCTOBER. CALL FOR HOURS.609/494-0656

Allk,

AIlb, A.. Allk. AIL

Of* American Festival Cafe

at Rockefeller Plaza An Ever-Changing Celebration of American Cooking. 20 West 50th Street. Reservations:(212)246-6699. 71


New Jerusalem Court by Sister Gertrude Morgan Multimedia on vinyl,131/2"x 71"

JAY JOHNSON America's Folk Heritage Gallery JAY JOHNSON

RUBENS TELES

1044 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021 Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.(closed Monday) 628-7280

INDEX TO ADVERTISERS

America Hurrah Americana by the Seashore American Festival Cafe American Primitive Gallery Ames Gallery of American Folk Art Marna Anderson Authentic Designs Behind the Mask Robert Cargo Folk Art Gallery Christie's Clark Gallery The Collector Double K Gallery Leslie Eisenberg Folk Art Gallery Epstein/Powell First Edition Quilts Janet Fleisher Gallery Pie Galinat 72

2 71 71 28 20 12 70 16 57 17 13 70 22 65 27 22 4 65

13 Gasperi Folk Art Gallery 23 Sidney Gecker American Folk Art 11 Gilley's Gallery 21 The Grass Roots Gallery 25 Pat Guthman Antiques 23 Phyllis Haders Inside Back Cover Hirschl & Adler Folk 72 Jay Johnson Cover Front Inside Keller-Make 5 R.E. Kinnaman/B.A. Ramaekers 57 Alfred A. Knopf T.P. Langan American Folk Art Gallery 24 69 Don Mackey Shows,Inc. 24 Antiques & Art Main Street 3 Ken & Ida Manko 9 Frank Maresca/Roger Ricco 26 Mia Gallery Steve Miller

Museum of American Folk Art Book 70 and Gift Shop 8 F. Nichols Robert 26 Ohio Gallery 27 Outside-In 10 Primitivo 55 Rona Gallery John Keith Russell Antiques, Inc. Back Cover 10 Sailor's Valentine Gallery 25 Brigitte Schluger Gallery Kathy Schoemer David A. Schorsch Shapiro & Stambaugh The Tartt Gallery Vermont Antique Dealers' Association Inc. Thos. K. Woodard

71 18 55 57 70 6 The Clarion


4t'

************************

Hirschl & Adler Folk ************************

851 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10021 (212) 988-FOLK


JOHN KJITH ItUSSELL ANTIQUES,

Bear by Fiske

SPRING STREET,-SOUTH SALEM, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N,Y. 10590 (914).763-8144 • TUESDAY-SUNDAY 10:00-5:30

The Clarion (Summer 1988)  

Plain Painters • Navajo Pottery: A New Twist on an Old Tradition • Striding Out on Their Own: Folk Art and Northern California Artists • Mal...

The Clarion (Summer 1988)  

Plain Painters • Navajo Pottery: A New Twist on an Old Tradition • Striding Out on Their Own: Folk Art and Northern California Artists • Mal...