I like the two shows at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art this fall. Today we went to hear Collections Curator Jonathan Bucci talk about the Russell Childers show of wood carvings that Bucci curated and that is on view at the Museum until the end of October. If you haven’t seen the Childers yet show I highly recommend it…the work is beautiful and poignant, the narrative almost filmic. Childers was sent to the “Fairview Home for the Feeble Minded” by court order in 1925 when he was 10…removed from his mother who did not wish him to go. Childers was deaf and could not speak, possibly was what we now call autistic, but was decidedly not feeble minded. His mother died 4 years later, and with no advocate, Childers spent the next 38 years institutionalized. The happy part of his story is that people recognized his talent and intellect, he was released at age 48, hearing aids worked for him and at age 50 he learned to speak. He was able to spend the last 3 decades of his life making art among sympathetic people. He had gallery representation (Jamison Thomas Gallery) his work toured the region and was collected. It ended well. I wrote about that show in early August and hope you’ll go see the show this next month.
The other show, in the big galleries and up until January is:
all by Alma Dexhimer. And then the writing. I’m partial to words appearing in work and have my own “font” (thanks Sloy) which I use in quilts and paintings and drawing books….here are three details from Jesse Howard paintings…
(now I’m wondering what DID become of John the Baptist’s head…?)
Zebedee Armstrong’s “Three Calendars”
…a couple from Howard Finster…
Benjamin Perkins’ terrific map…
(I mislaid the note with the artist’s name on this one…)
W.J.Blackmon’s “God’s House”…(think Giotto here…)
Andrew Johnson immigrated from Copenhagen, Denmark in 1865 and wound up in Montana where this was painted with barn paint on wallboard…”Tornado”
These artists are people from what we now call “the margins”. People from institutions, people of color who lack a formal art education, people who work a day job and then make art on top of that. Looking at all this work, at other examples in the Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. , I long for a re-imagining of descriptors for art made by Americans, for an art world that is more inclusive of good work, no matter where it came from regionally and no matter what the race, gender or educational level of the maker.
In any case, go take a look and think about it, and while you are there…in these last few days of Barack Obama’s presidency, take note of this quote on the wall…
And here is the quandry I’m in….”outsider art” …”folk art”…a