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Dust Bowl Glimpses Original Paintings with Narrative Mandy Behrens - August 2011 One by one, impoverished families of the Dust Bowl (1930s America) crawled onto Route 66, the mother road, in search of a better living out West. While some families stayed put, most could no longer endure the merciless conditions created by what would become a record-breaking 10-year drought, uncultivable land, and devastating winds that blew an estimated 100 million acres of topsoil across the region into homes, schools, and townships. One storm no dust bowler ever forgot was “Black Sunday�, a debilitating dust storm on April 14, 1935 that rolled across Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.


“Taking the Mother Road”

They didn’t want to leave but they had no choice. Drought, dying livestock, foreclosures, and acres of topsoil blown into their homes and lungs drove them away from the only life they knew. California offered promises of steady work and fertile ground—a fresh start. They were taking the mother road.

8”x8” acrylic on cradled wood panel. Wired for hanging. Title and artist signature on back.


“Waiting”

They’d driven as far as a dollar of gas could take them. Now they waited. Waited under the merciless sun with hungry bellies and soiled clothing. They waited for news of work in the fields as promised on government handbills distributed just weeks prior. They waited for a time when they were migrants no longer. Waiting was all they could do.

8”x8” acrylic on cradled wood panel. Wired for hanging. Title and artist signature on back.


“Worldly Possessions”

A mattress, some dishes, a stove if you were lucky enough to own one, definitely the tarpaulins, and maybe a chair or two. That was all they had room for on the truck besides the family. When you are a migrant family, these become your worldly possessions.

8”x8” acrylic on cradled wood panel. Wired for hanging. Title and artist signature on back.


“Fryin’ Pone”

This morning brought a welcome respite. The family awoke to the clattering of pans and the comforting aroma of ma’s homemade corn pone. Were they still dreaming, they wondered. Yesterday the men earned nearly a dollar pickin’ so ma could splurge on cornmeal and bacon at the camp store. Fryin’ pone made her feel decent again.

8”x8” acrylic on cradled wood panel. Wired for hanging. Title and artist signature on back.


“Ruthie’s Red”

The colors of young Ruthie Joad’s world ranged from faded denims and soiled flesh to endless hues of brown. But that all changed when the rains finally came. The landscape was now littered with lush greens and vivid wildflowers. Ruthie grew particularly fond of red geraniums. They were now known as "Ruthie’s Red".

8”x8” acrylic on cradled wood panel. Wired for hanging. Title and artist signature on back.


“Faded Clover”

She never knew the likes of a store-bought dress. Neither did her three older sisters. Each migrant daughter wore clothes hand sewn by their mother, often times made from grain sacks. Her favorite was this clover-patterned number.

8”x8” acrylic on cradled wood panel. Wired for hanging. Title and artist signature on back.


About the Artist Mandy Behrens is a self-taught artist living in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two young daughters. She credits her mother, Relda Jane Fossett, for her artistic talents and passion for craftsmanship. Mandy hopes to inspire her own daughters to follow their artistic dreams just as her mother did for her. When she's not volunteering at school or cheering for her daughters at karate classes, Mandy can be found dabbling with paints, salvaged materials, ecotextiles, and natural colorants in her tiny bedroom studio. Mandy strives to create little pieces of art and handmade goods that are not mass-produced, but rather one-of-a-kind creations her mother and ancestors would be proud of. She incorporates earth-friendly materials and sustainable practices in her designs whenever possible. "I have a strong affinity for the old ways and timeworn objects. When creating my shop name I immediately thought of my great-grandparents and their parents who homesteaded in the early 1900s on the prairies of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. "Weathered Silo" pays tribute to my ancestor's resilience and resourceful ways of living off the sometimes unforgiving land and its untamed beauty."

More of Mandy’s artwork and musings can be found here: Web site: www.weatheredsilo.com Blog: http://weatheredsilo.blogspot.com/ Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/weatheredsilo

Š2011 Mandy Behrens, Weathered Silo LLC. All rights reserved.

Dust Bowl Glimpses  

Original Paintings with Narrative by artist Mandy Behrens, Weathered Silo. Series of six acrylic paintings on wood panels depicting the stru...

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