The MAX: PLACE Quarterly_Fall 2020

Page 12

William Dunlap + “Pappy” Kitchens

“I paint about folks, what folks see, and what folks do.”

— O.W. “Pappy” Kitchens, 1901–1986

In 1969, Oscar William Kitchens became an artist at the tender age of 68. At the urging of William Dunlap, his son-in-law and an artist in the infancy of his own art career, Kitchens picked up a paint brush and a piece of paper, wood—any material he could get his hands on—and created art, and also helped to preserve the Southern tradition of oral torytelling through visual art. Kitchens is a self-proclaimed folk artist and rightfully so. His work contains many of the qualities common to this genre of art: he is self-taught, uses found materials, breaks every art rule (because he has not been influenced by mainstream concepts and philosophies), and most importantly, tells stories with his work. This Crystal Springs native was raised at a time when telling stories and parables was commonplace in conversations among people of all ages and races. Old-timers would gather together and tell stories, each even more farfetched than the first. Parents and grandparents would teach their children and grandchildren life lessons through parables. In the 1970s Kitchens emerged as a folk or outsider artist during a time when the art world was just discovering outside art. At the time, photography, performance art, and minimalist sculpture were all the rage. But by the 1980s, art trends had shifted and outsider art was taken more seriously. Paintings by Pappy Kitchens, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Howard Finster, and Clementine Hunter became valued for their primal and storytelling qualities. Kitchens spent four years (1973-1976) developing The Saga of Red Eye the Rooster. The series, comprised of 60 paintings, follows the life of Red Eye the Rooster, adopted by Henry, his Uncle Bim, and their dog Spot. The Saga of Red Eye the Rooster chronicles the life of Red Eye as he confronts most of the ten deadly sins and heroically overcomes them all just to succumb to his own fatal flaw. We can all relate to Red Eye’s story of love, lust, loss, and redemption. William Dunlap presents The Saga of Red Eye the Rooster which will be on display September 28, 2020–March 2, 2021. This exhibition features 60 paintings plus an additional 18 paintings depicting parables loaded with humor, truth, and lasting lessons that all ages can enjoy. Above, left to right: Henry shows Uncle Bim the chicken, Red Eye the Rooster, he saved from a hawk as Spot, the dog, watches. Untitled. 10


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