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EARL CUNNINGHAM American Fauve


Published on the occasion of the exhibition

EARL CUNNINGHAM: American Fauve September 8 - October 29, 2011 Heather James Fine Art 172 Center Street, Suite 101 Jackson, Wyoming 83001 January - April, 2012 Heather James Fine Art 45188 Portola Avenue Palm Desert, California 92260 Catalogue designed by Timothy Tompkins

www.heatherjames.com


EARL CUNNINGHAM American Fauve

45188 Portola Avenue Palm Desert, CA 92260 760-346-8926 PO Box 3580 172 Center Street Suite 101 Jackson, WY 83001 307-200-6090 www.heatherjames.com


(1893-1977)


INTRODUCTION Michael A. Mennello

Earl Cunningham is a miraculous artist and a true American Fauve and I am extremely excited to have selected Heather James Fine Art to share this important collection of American art with the world. The gallery’s stature and reputation are a perfect compliment to the legacy of Earl Cunningham. My wife and I began our collection of Cunningham’s work in 1969 with Marilyn purchasing a painting directly from the artist. Following Cunningham’s death, we began a quest to purchase as many paintings as possible, eventually capturing the majority of Cunningham’s 405 known works. Passionate advocates of Cunningham, we dedicated our time and resources to restoring the paintings and preserving the artist’s legacy. In 1998, we opened the Mennello Museum of American Art with a core group of Cunningham paintings central to the museum and continuously on display.

Earl Cunningham and Marilyn Logsdon Mennello in front of the Over Fork Gallery, 1970. Photo by Lynda Wilson


INTRODUCTION

Chip Tom - Curator

Twenty years ago while living and working in Switzerland, I was introduced to the wonderful paintings of Earl Cunningham at the US Embassy. Although visiting the ambassador on other official business, I could not stop staring at the Cunninghams. These paintings were quintessential American, and perfect representatives of US art from the twentieth century. Cunningham depicted the Eastern seaboard in a personal style that included unique scale changes and bold usages of color When looking at the representational paintings and breaking them down into large blocks of color they are very modern and fresh. It is a pleasure and honor for Heather Sacre, James Carona and myself to be working with this incredible material. We would like to thank Michael Mennello and his late wife The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello for the opportunity to continue to promote the legacy of this important American Fauve.

Brick Lighthouse on the Bluff c. 1970 oil on fiberboard 16 1/2 x 23 inches Exhibited: Geneva, Switzerland, United States Mission, Embassy Residence - Ambassador and Mrs. Morris Abrams, United States Department of State, Art in Embassies Program, 1992


EARL CUNNINGHAM’S SELF-TAUGHT MODERNISM Robert Hobbs

The paintings of the Maine-born self-taught marine painter Earl Cunningham (1893-1977)

preferred to call him an “American Fauve” after the early twentieth-century group of French

are distinguished for incorporating significant aspects of mainstream modern art, particularly

colorists around Henri Matisse. While Cunningham was innocent of such established academic

the high keyed coloristic work of the Post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh and the French

techniques as one-point perspective and classical ways of rendering human anatomy, he was

Fauves. Known for his visionary scenes of both Maine and Florida, Cunningham created an art

sophisticated in employing a number of ideas germane to modern art, so his naiveté was very

that belies the once widely endorsed view regarding self-taught art’s presumed lack of erudition.

knowing.

Although he was certainly an autodidact in his art and semi-literate, as his occasionally recorded

personal journal testifies, Cunningham’s work is not lacking in sophistication, and he himself

business cards printed with the designation “Primitive Artist,” he set up tensions between

was not unaware of mainstream avant-garde art developments, as his own art so clearly indicates.

intuitive art and tongue-in-cheek postmodernist practices—those knowingly ironic approaches

Since the 1920s Cunningham maintained a messianic zeal about his work, an approach

often taking specific artistic categories and genres as subjects for their work—and he did so

most clearly appreciated by considering his great desire to have a museum devoted to it.1

decades before postmodernist art was developed and ratified as a critical approach. His self

Although he might have joked about this imaginary museum, he was also deadly serious about

-awareness of his special contradictory status indicates a sophistication at odds with the usual

it and his identity as an artist. Often he would wear a beret as a way of reinforcing his artistic

expectations concerning vernacular artists, and this acute understanding of being both an insider

identity, and when he painted, he would don an artist’s smock with a crest emblazoned on its

and an outsider points to the fluidity of language in the twentieth century, when naiveté and

back. The crest, with the addition of the words “Over Fork Over,” was the same family seal he

sophistication are not always polarities.

himself had devised and used to advertise the gallery comprised of his paintings, located next

door to his antique shop.

codes for vernacular art with the goal of employing one to reinforce the other. This designation,

The museum as the legitimate future repository for Cunningham’s paintings can be

however, which is characteristically used by a member of the mainstream culture to refer to

credited as a basis for his great desire to achieve a range of subjects in his marines, to create a

someone who is marginalized, serves the reverse function in Cunningham’s case of questioning

wondrous sense of fantasy about the past, and to achieve a subtle and disarmingly charming

the authenticity of his work. The doubling of sophisticated and vernacular codes continues to be

critique of the present, thereby representing in his art a renewed symbolic genesis of the

evident in his re-appropriation of the so-called folk-art forms employed by many modern artists,

United States’ history. His paintings re-create aspects of an idealized and fanciful past to

including the Fauves, and in his reliance on the tradition practiced by Edward Hicks, Grandma

provide halcyon views of what America could have been and might still be. In many paintings

Moses, and Joseph Pickett. Depending on one’s point of view, Cunningham’s approach can be

Cunningham symbolically reenacts America’s beginnings by bringing early Norse explorers

considered an appropriation of modernism, a re-appropriation of the vernacular that modern art

and Native Americans together with the late–nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century sailing

itself had appropriated, a revival of the American folk-art tradition as seen in the works of Hicks

vessels of his youth. To reinforce the great antiquity of the Norse ships, the artist would often

and others, and a survival of the nineteenth-century traditions Cunningham himself continues.

paint patches on their sails.

Of course, his tactic is representative of all these attitudes, considered singly or in combination.

The sense of nostalgia pervading these works is key to the way Cunningham re-presents

Although Cunningham was self-taught, he was definitely not naïve; and although he was self-

the world rather than merely reflecting it. Although the term “memory painter” is often used

aware of his status as a vernacular artist, he remained an intuitive painter who attempted to

for such individuals as Cunningham, in his case it is particularly confusing because it suggests

synthesize his experiences in a visual form. Thus, Cunningham was both marginalized and

his creations are mere reflections of his youth rather than highly symbolic, even necessary

mainstream at the same time. Perhaps, because of this contingent status, Cunningham put

reconstitutions of it. Calling him a memory painter trivializes and invalidates his creations,

a great deal of emphasis on his handmade frames, modeled on nineteenth-century American

implying his broad cultural reassessments are merely charming and inaccurate recollections.

Empire-style ogee ones, so that they were imposing enough to circumscribe and separate his

When Cunningham signed a painting “American Primitive”2 and later when he had

By employing the term “Primitive Artist” to refer to himself, Cunningham doubles the


world by maintaining it as special and semiprivate preserve.

apparent in some early paintings and are relevant to his overall style. This stylistic device

Although the noted American surrealist photographer Jerry Uelsmann, who

found in Burchfield’s work and some of Disney’s films is indicative of Cunningham’s indirect

documented in 1970 Cunningham’s antique shop, studio, and gallery for the artist’s first museum

connections with both synaesthesia and the art of Russian Expressionist Wassily Kandinsky,

exhibition at the Loch Haven Art Center in Orlando (now the Orlando Museum of Art) could

who wished to establish equivalences between color, shape, and sound, and in Cunningham’s

not “imagine Cunningham reading art books,”3 the artist did come in contact with modern art

work it points to the artist’s attempt to move beyond surface appearances in order to reveal a

through a number of sources, including printed matter, and embraced a number of its tenets in

more profound cross-section of the world he was conjuring in his paintings. In fact, Snow

his painting. Even though he may have picked up ideas from the comments and questions of

White and Fantasia could have served Cunningham as short courses in modern art’s seemingly

customers visiting his antique shop, Cunningham most likely became acquainted with modern

arbitrary intense colors, which were originated in the work of Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and

art from the surprising number of articles on the subject published in Life magazine, beginning

the Fauves.

in the late 1930s. Uelsmann remembers seeing sacks of Life, Collier’s, and National Geographic

magazines in Cunningham’s antique shop, “so many in fact that it was dangerous.”4

align it with the highly subtle and remarkable ideas of the French Symbolist movement, which

In addition to Life, Cunningham had the opportunity to know some modern works

provided Gauguin and Matisse, among others, with a rationale for employing saturated hues.

of art through large second-hand framed reproductions he sold in his shop. In one Uelsmann

But if one recognizes how profoundly these Symbolist concepts permeated popular culture,

photograph of Cunningham’s shop, there is a reproduction of a late Maurice de Vlaminck being

including animated cartoons, mass media advertising, and fashion, their indirect impact on

offered for sale. Considering the presence of this image in the shop, it is possible Cunningham

Cunningham seems far more plausible. The reason for pointing out their relevance to his art is

sold, over the years, reproductions of many popular works by Vincent van Gogh, Matisse, and the

not simply to elevate his paintings by association, even though that might be a residual effect,

Impressionists that were widely circulated at the time. Repeated access to these reproductions

but to point out how Cunningham has claimed for vernacular art some of the same avant-garde

would have exposed him to some basic modern art concepts such as a high-keyed color palette,

concepts disseminated throughout the culture. In his work, then, Cunningham invokes some

and this familiarity helps to explain the penchant for saturated hues in his own paintings.

of the original Symbolist concepts, such as the absolute reality of the abstract components of

Cunningham could have also come in contact with basic attitudes about modern art

painting, such as shape and color. Although he never relinquished the realm of appearances in

found in such Walt Disney animated films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and

his art, he does revel in the abstract power of color as his saffron oceans and skies, raspberry bays,

Fantasia (1940). Since he made paintings of Disney’s seven dwarfs at some point between

and chocolate waterways so eloquently testify.

the late ‘30s and early ‘50s, he was no doubt acquainted with the film, the intensity and range

of its colors and its sense of fantasy.

Because Cunningham did not accept commissions,

world and the ideal realm he was depicting in his art. The saturated hues in his art imply a

the decision to re-create images of Disney’s dwarfs, without doubt, was done under his own

deep involvement with his subject to the point that he does not take time to modulate colors

initiative. Cunningham’s knowledge of this film is crucial to an understanding of his overall

but instead prefers to use them in large doses to convey strong feelings. The fresh and intense

work because it indicates a familiarity with expressionistic ideas, particularly evident in the

color in his art supports his Edenic subject matter by signifying a world created anew, unspoiled

forest scene early in the film when the huntsman takes Snow White outside the palace and

and full of intense light. His color also has the distinct psychological advantage of suggesting

deserts her. In this segment, the forest assumes some characteristics of Charles Burchfield’s

contradictory ways of approaching his dreamscapes. It may be seen as paralleling psychologist

early whimsical paintings, particularly the device of repeating outlines around trees and plants to

C.G. Jung’s advice to a patient constructing a mandala “not to be afraid of bright colors, . . .

suggest spiritual emanations and sometimes to reveal incipient anthropomorphic features. Even

[because] vivid colors seem to attract the unconscious.” 6 The question of whether color makes

though the latter do not occur in Cunningham’s work, his staggered sets of outlines are readily

the dream more real or whether it heightens its unreality and thus guarantees its status as a

5

In consideration of the sophistication of Cunningham’s work, it is not farfetched to

Cunningham’s relation to color bespeaks the strong convictions he had about the


dream is moot. And this oscillation between extended dream and heightened reality may have

structures remain front-stage-center in these works. One could thus argue that Cunningham is

been one of the main attractions color had for Cunningham.

a preeminent painter of harbors rather than the sea, since the comforts and security they offer

In most of his works Cunningham employed a dominant hue to form an embracing

are very important to him. In fact, the foreground areas of land adjoining his prominent harbors

ambience capable of imbuing and embracing all his pictorial elements as well as subsuming

in his marine paintings contain, control, and limit views of the sea, making this large body of

them under its aegis. While the intensity of color in his painting is indebted to popular-culture

water subservient to them.

descendants of Fauvist art, his handling of it can be traced to the tradition of Tonalism, an elitist

artistic trend beginning in the 1880s and continuing into the teens of the twentieth century,

museum of memories is an overall qualitative re-conception of them. His art distills not only

most notably through the leading example of Whistler’s nocturnes. Although Cunningham

his own experiences but also for his understanding of America’s past. The result is a collection of

did not perpetuate the blurred forms, grayed out colors, and poetic intimate scenes of the

compelling metaphors of regeneration, attained through a harmonious reconciliation of notable

Tonalists, he did sustain their embracing environments and closely aligned hues, albeit in a

differences. With their many formal alliances with such modern art movements as Fauvism,

heightened palette differing significantly from their overall gentle and genteel effect. Moreover,

Cunningham’s oxymoronic works bespeak great sophistication within the limits of a self-taught

he sustained the Tonalist desire to create protected and idealized retreats into the past, even

style, thereby demonstrating the fact that seemingly childlike forms do not necessarily connote

though his subject matter differs markedly from the aristocratic, neurasthenic women often

naïve approaches. Even though Cunningham was semi-literate and certainly marginalized from

associated with works by such New England Tonalists as Thomas Dewing.

the mainstream world, he was versed in aspects of modern culture and its traditions; in his art

When Cunningham decided to create his self-taught art for a museum setting, he

he achieves a number of the idealistic values associated with an Edenic world that the dominant

internalized a range of the then current attitudes about these institutions, including making

culture lacked, thereby providing an implicit critique of it. Whereas some artists create viable

art a special and restricted refuge from daily life. Even though he contextualized his paintings

images of the future, Cunningham re-conceives the past in his art as a halcyon realm in which

in his gallery by creating a passageway to it through an anteroom of nautical equipment, his

the American genesis can be ritualistically reenacted. In his paintings he reinvigorates clichés,

works existed in a private space, which emphasized both their formal qualities and the ensuing

imbuing them with conviction, thus enabling his viewers to see already familiar and at times

relationships between them. Just as a museum might transform crucifixes into sculpture, thereby

hackneyed cultural norms from a fresh perspective and thereby providing this audience a means

rendering the sacred prosaic, so Cunningham’s gallery reinforced the universal character of his

for engaging and even empathizing with them.

art and connoted its lasting value. While this attitude might be devastating for a venerated religious object, it reinforced the idealism and abstraction found in Cunningham’s figurative work and also exaggerated its symbolic import as an Edenic view of America’s past.

Even with the great amount of lucid detail populating his paintings, Cunningham

maintained a pervading interest in the ways objects function as symbols, and for this reason he subsumed details under a general interaction of land and sea. Traditionally, the sea symbolizes mobility, change, and freedom. It is an open-ended sign full of possibilities and limited in the

To conclude: more than a mere treasure trove of his own past experiences, Cunningham’s

1 Several decades after his death, Cunningham’s dream was given tangible form by the perspicacious and assiduous collectors, the Honorable Marilyn Mennello and her husband Michael Mennello, who began shortly after the artist’s death adding to their collection of his art by acquiring as many works in the estate as possible plus his papers and the personal effects related to his art and his St. Augustine antique shop on St. George Street called “Over Fork Gallery.” In 1998 the non-profit Mennello Museum of American Art opened its doors, and its historical and cultural was recognized by members of the Orlando city counsel , when they assumed the ownership and operation of the Museum. 2 Cunningham’s second museum exhibition in 1974 was subtitled “American Primitive.” The exhibition included over two hundred paintings. According to museum director John Surovek, the artist determined the title for this exhibition. 3 Jerry Uelsmann, telephone interview with Robert Hobbs, 17 August 1991. 4 Ibid.

visual arts only by the horizon line or by land. The harbor often takes on the biblical overtones

5 Although early snapshots of these paintings are extant, the works themselves have not been located.

of a safe refuge. Although essentially out of harm’s way, the harbors in Cunningham’s art are still

6 C.G. Jung, Mandala Symbolism, trans. R.F.C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959), p. 10.

subject to the strong winds that cause sailing crafts to heel, revealing their red hulls. Land, in this equation, is usually only an adjunct to the many harbors populating these scenes, and these


PAINTINGS


Seminole Paradise c. 1955 oil on masonite 17 x 41 in.

Provenance: Collection of Mary Demetree Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Atlanta, Georgia, High Museum of Art, Earl Cunningham: Painting an American Eden, 1994, No. 27; Traveled to: West Palm Beach, Florida, Norton Gallery of Art, 1994 Orlando, Florida, Orlando Museum of Art, 1995 Rockland, Maine, The Farnsworth Art Museum, 1997 Greenberg, Pennsylvania, Westmorland Museum of Art, 1997 Columbia, South Carolina, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, 1998 Orlando, Florida, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Earl Cunningham’s America, 2009


Railroad Bridge date unknown oil on masonite 16 x 20 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Safe Harbor

1935 oil on canvas board 16 x 25 in. Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Orlando, Florida, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, 1986 Traveled to: Jacksonville, Florida, Jacksonville Museum of Art, Sept.-Nov. 1987 Daytona Beach, Florida, Museum of Arts and Sciences, April-June, 1988 Santa Clara, California, Triton Museum of Art, Dec. 1988-Feb. 1989 Monterey, California, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Feb.-May 1989 Huntsville, Alabama, Huntsville Museum of Art, Oct.-Nov. 1989 Lakeland, Florida, Polk Museum of Art, Dec. 1989-Feb. 1990 Huntington, West Virginia, Huntington Museum of Art, May-July 1990


Jungle House c. 1965 oil on board 15 1/2 x 20 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Museum of Art, A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentries, April-July1987; Traveled to: Orlando, Florida,Valencia Community College, Aug.-Sept.1987 Tallahassee, Florida, Fine Arts Gallery and Museum, Florida State University, Oct.1987


Morning Expedition

c. 1940 oil on fiberboard 21 1/2 x 28 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Museum of Art, A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentries, April-July1987 Traveled to: Orlando, Florida,Valencia Community College, Aug.-Sept.1987


House Boat No. 3 c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 20 1/4 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Early Explorers

c. 1944 oil on masonite 14 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Blue Waterfall

c. 1975 oil on fiberboard 16 x 37 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Museum of Art, A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentries, April-July1987 Traveled to: Orlando, Florida,Valencia Community College, Aug.-Sept.1987 Tallahassee, Florida, Fine Arts Gallery and Museum, Florida State University, Oct.1987


Sunrise at Old Brick Lighthouse date unknown oil on fiberboard 18 1/4 x 36 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Seaport Museum, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, sponsored by the Mid-America Arts Alliance: Exhibits USA, Nov. 1988-March 1989 Traveled to: Little Rock, Arkansas, the Arkansas Art Center, April-June 1989 Solomans, Maryland, Calvert Maritime Museum, July-Aug. 1989 Midland, Texas, Museum of the Southwest, Sept. 1989 Greenville, North Carolina, Gray Art Gallery, East Carolina University, Nov.-Dec. 1989 Albany, Georgia, Albany Museum of Art, Dec. 1989-Jan. 1990 Breckenridge, Texas, Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, June-July 1990


The Watch Tower c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 18 x 36 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Off the Coast of White Lighthouse Point

c. 1950 oil on fiberboard 17 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Six Indians in Three Canoes c. 1940 oil on fiberboard 16 x 32 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Tallahassee, Florida, The Capitol, Office of the Commissioner of Education Betty Castor, April 1987-Nov. 1988


The Pink Hotel

c. 1940 oil on fiberboard 16 x 31 3/4 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Brick Lighthouse on the Bluff c. 1970 oil on fiberboard 16 1/2 x 23 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Geneva, Switzerland, United States Mission, Embassy Residence - Ambassador and Mrs. Morris Abrams, United States Department of State, Art in Embassies Program, 1992


Life on the Waterfront

c. 1955 oil on fiberboard 20 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Seaport Museum, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, sponsored by the Mid-America Arts Alliance: Exhibits USA, Nov. 1988-March 1989 Traveled to: Little Rock, Arkansas, the Arkansas Art Center, April-June 1989 Solomans, Maryland, Calvert Maritime Museum, July-Aug. 1989 Midland, Texas, Museum of the Southwest, Sept. 1989 Greenville, North Carolina, Gray Art Gallery, East Carolina University, Nov.-Dec. 1989 Albany, Georgia, Albany Museum of Art, Dec. 1989-Jan. 1990 Breckenridge, Texas, Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, June-July 1990


Sailing By Woodpecker Hollow 1970 oil on fiberboard 18 x 28 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Tallahassee, Florida, The Capitol, Office of the Commissioner of Education Betty Castor, April 1987-Nov. 1988


Looking Over Woodpecker Hollow

1970 oil on fiberboard 18 x 28 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Southern Arts Federation, Jan. 1987


Georgia Village South Side

c. 1930 oil on fiberboard 18 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Dr. Faisal Fakih Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Southern Arts Federation, Jan. 1987


The Hokona out of South Carolina c. 1945 oil on fiberboard 17 3/4 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Seaport Museum, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, sponsored by the Mid-America Arts Alliance: Exhibits USA, Nov. 1988-March 1989 Traveled to: Little Rock, Arkansas, the Arkansas Art Center, April-June 1989 Solomans, Maryland, Calvert Maritime Museum, July-Aug. 1989 Midland, Texas, Museum of the Southwest, Sept. 1989 Greenville, North Carolina, Gray Art Gallery, East Carolina University, Nov.-Dec. 1989 Albany, Georgia, Albany Museum of Art, Dec. 1989-Jan. 1990 Breckenridge, Texas, Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, June-July 1990


Beach Party

c. 1940 oil on fiberboard 11 x 26 1/2 inches Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Royal Blue Water of New England c. 1930 oil on fiberboard 14 1/2 x 32 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Geneva, Switzerland, United States Mission, Embassy Residence - Ambassador and Mrs. Morris Abrams, United States Department of State, Art in Embassies Program, 1992


Winter’s Day at Yellow Cabin, Series II c. 1950 oil on fiberboard 12 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Homeward Bound

1970 oil on fiberboard 13 1/2 x 16 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Blue Bridge Island

date unknown oil on fiberboard 14 x 16 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Orlando, Florida, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, 1986 Traveled to: Jacksonville, Florida, Jacksonville Museum of Art, Sept.-Nov. 1987 Santa Clara, California, Triton Museum of Art, Dec. 1988-Feb. 1989 Monterey, California, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Feb.-May 1989 Huntsville, Alabama, Huntsville Museum of Art, Oct.-Nov. 1989 Huntington, West Virginia, Huntington Museum of Art, May-July 1990


Schooners Off Florida Coast (Offshore Schooners Series I) 1970 oil on fiberboard 17 x 23 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Seaport Museum, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, sponsored by the Mid-America Arts Alliance: Exhibits USA, Nov. 1988-March 1989 Traveled to: Little Rock, Arkansas, the Arkansas Art Center, April-June 1989 Solomans, Maryland, Calvert Maritime Museum, July-Aug. 1989 Midland, Texas, Museum of the Southwest, Sept. 1989 Greenville, North Carolina, Gray Art Gallery, East Carolina University, Nov.-Dec. 1989 Albany, Georgia, Albany Museum of Art, Dec. 1989-Jan. 1990 Breckenridge, Texas, Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, June-July 1990


Gabriel’s Landing c. 1965 oil on fiberboard 17 1/2 x 28 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Museum of Art, A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentries, April-July1987 Traveled to: Orlando, Florida,Valencia Community College, Aug.-Sept.1987 Tallahassee, Florida, Fine Arts Gallery and Museum, Florida State University, Oct.1987


The Narrow Road

c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 11 x 26 5/8 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Dog Track Cabin c. 1972 oil on fiberboard 12 x 15 1/4 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Day’s End at Coastguard Station, Series III

1950 oil on fiberboard 12 x 23 3/4 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Yellow Water, Series I 1970 oil on fiberboard 16 x 16 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Black Schooner Sailing at Full Speed

c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 15 1/4 x 15 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL Exhibited: Tallahassee, Florida, The Capitol, Office of the Commissioner of Education Betty Castor, April 1987-Nov. 1988


Eight Little Indians 1965 oil on fiberboard 10 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Houseboat at Shore

c. 1945 oil on fiberboard 20 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL Exhibited: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Museum of Art, A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentries, April-July1987 Traveled to: Orlando, Florida,Valencia Community College, Aug.-Sept.1987 Tallahassee, Florida, Fine Arts Gallery and Museum, Florida State University, Oct.1987


Chickie Village Portrait c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 18 1/4 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Red Roof Inn c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 13 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Southern Arts Federation, Jan. 1987


New England Fishing Village, Series I

c. 1930 oil on fiberboard 16 x 16 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


At the Mouth of the Yellow River 1970 oil on fiberboard 16 x 16 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Orlando, Florida, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, 1986 Traveled to: Jacksonville, Florida, Jacksonville Museum of Art, Sept.-Nov. 1987 Santa Clara, California, Triton Museum of Art, Dec. 1988-Feb. 1989 Monterey, California, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Feb.-May 1989 Huntsville, Alabama, Huntsville Museum of Art, Oct.-Nov. 1989 Lakeland, Florida, Polk Museum of Art, Dec. 1989-Feb. 1990 Huntington, West Virginia, Huntington Museum of Art, May-July 1990


Springtime Fantasy

c. 1968 oil on fiberboard 16 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Dr. Faisal Fakih Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Southern Arts Federation, Jan. 1987


Red Roofed Bridge

c. 1950 oil on fiberboard 12 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Red Boat House on Tree Lined Canal date unknown oil on fiberboard 12 1/4 x 24 1/4 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


The Landing c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 13 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Green Three Master Rounding S. Point

c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 12 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Winter’s Day at Yellow Cabin, Series I c. 1950 oil on fiberboard 12 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Sunrise at Spoonbill Point

c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 16 x 31 3/4 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Double Pine Island

1965 oil on fiberboard 12 x 15 1/4 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Boat Lodges, Seminole Camp c. 1966 oil on fiberboard 17 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Ocean Walk

c. 1969 oil on fiberboard 12 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Arctic Storm c. 1969 oil on fiberboard 16 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Green Warehouse Dock

c. 1960 oil on fiberboard 16 x 36 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Storm Clouds c. 1956 oil on fiberboard 16 x 24 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


Untitled

1950 oil on plywood 13 x 11 1/8 inches Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


York Harbor Boat House

c. 1955 oil on fiberboard 23 x 43 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Exhibited: Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Seaport Museum, Earl Cunningham: His Carefree American World, sponsored by the Mid-America Arts Alliance: Exhibits USA, Nov. 1988-March 1989 Traveled to: Little Rock, Arkansas, the Arkansas Art Center, April-June 1989 Solomans, Maryland, Calvert Maritime Museum, July-Aug. 1989 Midland, Texas, Museum of the Southwest, Sept. 1989 Greenville, North Carolina, Gray Art Gallery, East Carolina University, Nov.-Dec. 1989 Albany, Georgia, Albany Museum of Art, Dec. 1989-Jan. 1990 Breckenridge, Texas, Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, June-July 1990


Little Island Inlet c. 1958 oil on fiberboard 20 x 36 1/2 inches

Provenance: Collection of Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park, FL. Collection of Michael A. Mennello and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, Winter Park, FL.


EXHIBITION HISTORY

140 paintings have been shown in a variety of exhibitions at the following locations:

1970

The Paintings of Earl Cunningham, Loch Haven Art Center, Orlando, Florida, May 31-July 5, 1970

1989

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Monterey, California (60 paintings), February 17-May 14, 1989

1974

Earl Cunningham: American Primitive, Museum of Arts & Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida (200 paintings), August 8-September 5, 1974

1989

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, The Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Arkansas (40 paintings), April 20- June 4, 1989

1978

Earl Cunningham Retrospective, St. Augustine Art Association Gallery, October 29-November 15, 1978

1989

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Calvert Marine Museum, Solomans, Maryland (40 paintings), July 20-August 21, 1989

1979

Teresa Paffe Collection of Earl Cunningham Paintings, The Overfork Gallery, 1004 Ponce de Leon Boulevard

1989

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Mengei International Museum of World Folk Art, La Jolla, California (60 paintings), August 1-Sept 15, 1989

1979-80 Earl Cunningham Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee, December, 1979- February, 1980

1989

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas (40 paintings), September 1-22, 1989

1980

One painting on Loan from the Permanent Collection of the Museum of American Folk Art, NYC to Tampa Museum of Art, January, 1980

1989

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Alabama (60 paintings), October 8- November 12, 1989

1986

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World presented by The Museum of American Folk Art and The Center for American Art, New York University at 80 Washington Square East Galleries, New York University (66 paintings), March 11-April 4, 1986

1989

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Gray Art Gallery, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina (40 paintings), Nov 3- Dec 1, 1989

1986

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, Florida, October 12-26, 1986

1987

A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentries, Museum of Art, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (23 paintings), April 23-July 5, 1987

1987

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, Florida, September 17-October 31, 1987

1987

Separate Reality: Florida Eccentrics, Fine Arts Gallery and Museum, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, October 2-25, 1987

1987-88 Office of the Commissioner of Education Betty Castor, The Capitol, Tallahassee Florida (19 paintings), April 1987-November, 1988 1988

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Museum of Art & Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida (65 paintings), March 24-May 31, 1988

1988-89 Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Traveling Exhibit sponsored by Mid-America Arts Alliance: Exhibits USA, Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, Connecticut (45 paintings), November 19, 1988-March 15, 1989 1988-89 Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, California (60 paintings), December 10, 1988-February 4, 1989

1989-90 Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida (60 paintings), December 9-February 18, 1990 1989-90 Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Albany Museum of Art, Albany, Georgia (40 paintings), December 17-January 28, 1990 1990

Folk Art Traditions: Three Contemporary Masters, Federal Board Gallery, Washington, D.C. (10 paintings), January 23- March 26, 1990

1990

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, West Virginia (60 paintings), May 20- July 15, 1990

1990

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, Breckenridge, Texas (40 paintings), June 9- July 10, 1990

1990

Earl Cunningham (2 paintings), U.S. Embassy, Luxembourg, August 1990-August 1992

1991

Earl Cunningham (4 paintings), U.S. Embassy, Caracus, Venezuela, Ambassador and Mrs. Skol, August 1990-1992

1992

Earl Cunningham (4 paintings), U.S. Mission in Geneva, Embassy Residence- Ambassador and Mrs. Morris Abrams, August 1990-August 1992

1992

Earl Cunningham (1893-1977): His Carefree American World, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida (60 paintings), February 2 - April 6, 1992


1994

Earl Cunningham: Painting an American Eden, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia (46 paintings), February 11 - June 18, 1994

1994

Earl Cunningham: Painting an American Eden, Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida (46 paintings), July 22 - September 11, 1994

1995

Earl Cunningham: Painting an American Eden, Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, Florida (46 paintings), September 30 - November 5, 1995

1996-97 Earl Cunningham: Painting an American Eden, The Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine (46 paintings), November 10, 1996 - February 2, 1997 1997

Earl Cunningham: Painting an American Eden, Westmoreland Museum of Art, Greenburg, Pennsylvania (46 paintings), February 9 - April 20, 1997

1998

Earl Cunningham: Painting an American Eden, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina (46 paintings), January 11 - March 2, 1998

2007

Earl Cunningham’s America, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C., August 6 - November 4, 2007

2008

Earl Cunningham’s America, American Folk Art Museum, New York City, New York, March 4 - August 31, 2008

2008

Earl Cunningham’s America, Fenimore Museum, Cooperstown, New York, September 26 - December 31, 2008

2009

Earl Cunningham’s America, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando, Florida, March 6 - August 2, 2009

2011

Earl Cunningham: American Fauve, Heather James Fine Art, Jackson, Wyoming, September 8 - October, 2011

2011-12 Earl Cunningham: American Fauve, Heather James Fine Art, Palm Desert, California, November 25, 2011 - April, 2012


CHRONOLOGY 1893

June 30. Born Erland Ronald Cunningham in Edgecomb, Maine, near Boothbay Harbor, fifty-nine miles from Portland. Parents are Charles and Elwilda Drake Cunningham; there are two older sisters and later, three younger brothers. Their father lives and works on the farm that has been in the family since the early ninteenth century. According to family tradition, they were of Scottish descent and had emigrated to Nova Scotia and then moved south to Maine.

1906

Leaves home at age thirteen. His mother makes him promise that he will finish the eighth grade; his father then pronounces him a man, and he strikes out on his own. Makes his living as a tinker and is befriended by the son of the inventor and founder of the Diamond Match Company. Returns to Boothbay Harbor for part of each year until 1937.

1909

Lives in a fisherman’s shack on Stratton Island off Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Supports himself by peddling and by painting salvaged wood with pictures of boats and New England Farms for fifty cents each. Eventually acquires a rowboat, tent, and a twenty-two-foot sailboat, which he sails to within fifteen miles of New York City, to Jamaica Bay, Sandy Hook, and Long Island Sound, and even up beyond the narrows of the Hudson River.

1912

May 1. Recieves a certificate from Hamil Foster School of Automobile Engineering, Portland, Maine. Also finds time to study coastal navigation and recieves a government license as a pilot of harbors and rivers.

Prior to World War I Sails on giant coastal ships, 159 to 250 feet long, schooner-rigged, with four and five masts. Travels down the East coast to Florida and ports on the way, carrying coal, naval stores, and other cargo. Relates the story that he was once taken by “coaster” to Labrador, Canada, where he was put ashore for two weeks to light a huge bonfire for the ship on its return. During that time he befriended raccoons, birds, and other animals, many of which appear later in his paintings. c. 1913

Meets Captain Foster, skipper of the J. P. Morgan family yacht, the Grace, and eventually learns to sail the vessel. Saves the Grace from possible disaster by repairing a shackle that had been undone by the weather. In return for Earl’s diligence, Captain Foster goes to Boston and returns with an eleven-foot mahogany-topped white cedar canoe, a gift from the Morgan family. Later, a loan from Captain Foster enables him to buy a twenty-two-foot sailboat.

1913 June. Postcard from Boothbay Harbor mentions traveling “from Portland, Maine to Boothbay Harbor on the Grace…Captain Foster’s daughter and I went to the fire around nine o’clock at night June 1913.” Fire destroys a large hotel called the Menawarmet. 1914

August. Stays in cabin at Pendleton homestead, Crescent Beach Road, Anastasia island, Florida. That same year sells a painting for eight dollars.

1915

June 29. Marries Iva Moses, a piano teacher, whom he calls Maggie throughout their marriage. Buys a thirty-five-foot cabin cruiser named the Hokona, on which he and his bride live. Drives a truck for the navy during World War I and is sent to Jacksonville, Florida, to test an instrument used to detect alloys in junk metals. While on this job visits St. Augustine for the first time.

1916

Hokona is docked near Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Photograph of chickens bears inscription “product of our farm 1916.”

1917

Photograph of the vessel Bay State grounded on the rocks, Cape Elizabeth, near Portland, Maine. Later uses this scene in a painting.

1918-c.1928 For a decade after World War I spends the winters in Florida at Tampa Bay, Ceader Keys, and St. Augustine, digging for Indian relics and collecting opalized coral to take back to Maine to sell. Also catches fiddler crabs on the beaches of Anastasia Island, Florida, which he preserves and takes back to Maine. 1919

In Freeport, Maine, and Schenectady, New York.

1920

Lives in Freeport, Maine. Has several buildings and a sawmill.

1921

July. Photograph taken in Freeport, Maine, with the truck named Dirigo: The Good Barge. July 20. Travels between Florida and Miami. August 6. Visits Niagara Falls. August 8. Travels the coast of Lake Erie beyond Lackawanna, New York. October 14. Spends time in Ohio; the Cunninghams husk eight hundred bushels of corn for Mr. Riddles.

1922 April. Visits Cartersville, Georgia. August. Photograph take near Cartersville shows Etowah burial mounds in the background. On the reverse Cunningham notes, “Found lots of things here: 1922-23 24-25.” 1923-24 Continues to visit Anastasia Island and St. Augustine, Florida. Stays long enough to invest in a small motorized tractor. 1925

Rents a house in the district of West Augustine, St. Augustine, Florida, for five years; catches fiddler crabs and sends them to Maine as well as all over the U.S. Continues to call Maine home; moves from Freeport to Boothbay Harbor. October 19. Earl’s brother Donald dies in a sawmill accident. Family situation becomes difficult.

c. 1920s-40 Maintains a twenty-five acre farm in Maine, which he names “Fort Valley,” and plans a museum.


1936

Sells his house in Maine. Some time after this date his marriage ends in divorce.

1972

September 19. Is requested to move by the first of the year by Theresia Paffe.

1938

January. Again visits Cartersville, Georgia.

1940

Sells Fort Valley farm and purchases a fifty-acre farm in Waterboro, South Carolina Has museum project under way when World War II begins. Farm is converted to raise chickens for the army; nevertheless continues to paint.

1973

Both he and Theresia Paffe move to a shop-home-studio on Florida State Road AIA\ (U.S. 1), which is also 1004 N. Ponce De Leon Boulevard, St. Augustine.

1949

Moves to 51-55 St. George Street, St. Augustine, Florida, and establishes Over Fork Gallery. Landlady, close friend, and patron is fifty-one-year-old Theresia (Tese) Paffe, who lives upstairs.

1974

August 8-September 5. Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida, holds exhibition “Earl Cunningham: American Primitive,” featuring over two hundred paintings. According to museum director John Surovek, the artist wishes the paintings to be hung from floor to ceiling.

1975

Notes in diary: “Counted my paintings today August 15. I have 330 all in frames.”

c. 1950

Paints series of twenty pictures (now lost) of Native Americans for the Michigan Historical Society. Notes on back of a photograph of Mackinac Island, Michigan: “I have none of them now. They sold for $250.00 each. Each was different.” Finds Native-American stone figure of bison in Georgia mountains.

1976

June 3. Notes in diary: “Finished all paintings today making me 405 on hand now.”

1977

December 29. During a visit from his nephew Caroll Windslow and his wife, Earl Cunningham shoots himself. His funeral takes place January 3, 1978.

1953

February 1. Oil painting entitled American Primitive offered for sale in catalogue of St. Augustine Art association.

1955

Exhibits Hilton Head. Notes on back of painting, “Was in the National Show in St. Augustine, Florida, April 1955. Private Showing.”

1959

February 12. Takes pride in becoming a member of the International Oceanographic Foundation and has certificate framed, even though membership in the foundation is similar to belonging to the National Geographic Society.

1960

Has business card printed identifying himself as “Earl R. Cunningham, Zoologist” with the word “Specimens” below. Card also bears family crest with the name Cunningham; address is listed as 51-53-55 St. George Street.

1961

January 27. Ships painting entitled The Everglades to Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House. Declares its value to be $1,200. May 9. Painting sent to Mrs. Kennedy is acknowledged by her personal secretary, Letitia Baldrige, in a letter to Cunningham.

1962

Visits his nephew Carrol Winslow and his wife, Beverly, in Maine.

1968

Identifies himself on a business card as a “Primitive Artist.”

1969

November. Meets Marilyn Logsdon Wilson (now Mennello) and her friend Jane Dart; is persuaded to sell paintings to both of them.

1970 May 31-July 5. Loch Haven Art Center, Orlando, Florida (now the Orlando Museum of Art), holds Cunningham’s first museum exhibition, “The paintings of Earl Cunningham.” Jerry Uelsmann takes a series of photographs of the artist and his studio.


Earl Cunningham: American Fauve  

Earl Cunningham: American Fauve