Monday, November 7, 2011

Recurring Themes: American Folk Art

I'm not sure I'll find a definition of "folk art" that I like, much less "American folk art".  But this is what I  mean when I think of American folk art, and what I like...

The two pictures below are both from our family room:

Edward Hicks: The Residence of David Twining

 The above Edward Hicks: The Residence of David Twining, is a giclee print that we bought and had framed after a trip to Cooperstown, NY and the Fenimore Art Museum, where we saw a couple of the artist's versions of Peaceable Kingdom on display. A link to the Fenimore Art Museum is here:   There are apparently four known versions of The Residence of David Twining, and an interesting history can be found in the Lot Notes of Christie's here: (mine is not the version in the Christie's picture).  I would love to go back to Cooperstown and visit the museum again, but until then I have this remembrance to view in my house to help recapture the feeling.

Racing at Broussard's Farm by George Rodrigue

George Rodrigue is a Cajun folklore painter, well known for his Blue Dog paintings.  We visited his gallery in New Orleans about 20 years ago when Cameron was a baby.  They allowed us to take a photo of Cameron, who was sound asleep in his stroller underneath one of the paintings.  I will have to find that photo and add it later.  Anyway, we bought this signed limited edition print, above, at the gallery and had it framed. I especially liked it because of the horses and because of the silhouette of the large tree in the background, as well as the bright colors, which were used in a very limited way -- mostly on the horses and  flags -- and also the way the railing comes in and out of the picture at an angle  (which is not unlike the opening gate in The Residence of David Twining).  You can see more of George Rodrigue's art here:

Picture book by George Rodrigue: Why is Blue Dog Blue?

My "Blue Dog", Olivia
Here I think have captured Olivia posing with that look in her eyes like Rodrigue's Blue Dog. As a note, I would love to try to paint this someday, although I understand it is difficult to paint black dogs... but maybe since I have not painted anything in years (other than the house) this small fact will not matter, as it would not be expected to look too professional anyway. Maybe it is like cooking, where the love you put into it makes all the difference!...
Here are three more images of American folk art that I have collected from my house:

Dinner bell picked up from an antiques store in Luray Virginia (not sure how "antique" it really is, but I like it)

One of two black Labrador dog bookends sitting on the fireplace mantel in our family room -- reminded me of Olivia, who is half Labrador and half Border Collie.
From a book I bought second hand on Rufus Porter, an American painter whose mural paintings I have admired.
Finally, I think that folk art extends to other arts, like literature, and in my definition, I would include some of my favorites: Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle,  Longfellow's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", and this poem by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 


  1. Love all your thoughts and info on folkart : ) I have a painting (a print) very similar to the first one you shared-in my living room. Sometimes I look at it and wish I could jump into it and see what life was like : )

  2. Olivia is not blue, she is black, eh