Sunday, January 30, 2011

Painted confirmation photo

This circa 1930 photo from Indiana appeals to me on a couple levels: as an unusual and folky portrait, and as a relic of Catholic culture. I used to be an altar boy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Q.J. Stephenson, maker of shell creatures

Q.J. Stephenson was a trapper, fossil collector and, later, an artist from Garysburg, N.C.  He created the Occoneechee Trapper's Lodge or Earth Museum, a building embedded with all sorts of stuff he collected. Stephenson also made sculptures that mix nature and fantasy. This creature looks like a horned toad but I don't think horned toads live anywhere near Garysburg. More likely, it's a fantasy creature loosely modeled after a dinosaur. This heavy, concrete plaque is embedded with shells and stones, and further decorated with colorful leaf imprints. Stephenson died in 1997.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One-legged doll

A brief article in the New York Times about a display at a Soho museum of children's paintings got me to wondering if I had any children's art. After poking around I found this Vermont doll I had bought at Brimfield several years ago. I'm guessing an adult or older child actually built the doll but an elementary school-age child could have painted the face. If it was not a young child painter then it was certainly someone attuned that sensibility. The hair is a mop and the hands look like tongue depressors. She might be a witch.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kentucky grave marker

Barbara at Folkways Notebook discovered this terrific cement headstone in rural Kentucky. Her blog is worth your time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

He'll be the egg man

A doctored photo on glass taken by F.W. Guerin around 1900. Guerin was a commercial photographer working in St. Louis. He died in 1903 after making a living as a photographer for about 27 years. I'm not exactly sure how this odd image was made, but the reverse of the glass is painted. Guerin's label is on the backing paperboard, as is the name "Evans, Artist," from New York. Presumably Evans painted the image. The wood frame is original and in rough condition.

Friday, January 21, 2011


This is a fairly large oil on board painted by James Bayens Jr. of Sheboygan, Wisc., in 1948.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rockport plaque

Bruno Harpin carved this plaque as a gift to someone whose illegible name is on the back. I think the plaque dates to 1928, but I'm not positive as the third numeral is difficult to decipher. Rockport, Mass., is on the Atlantic coast, less than an hour northeast of Boston. The color on this old plaque has really softened with age.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Theodore Hill

Theodore Hill, a retiree from Atlanta's Sanitation Department, gained a modicum of fame when he was included in volume two of William Arnett's "Souls Grown Deep." I visited Mr. Hill some 15 years ago and acquired a couple of his mixed-media works, including the one pictured here, dated May 5, 1992. He frequently depicted three crosses made of whatever was at hand. I saw crosses made of cigarettes, husks and assorted other things. He showed me a photo with a strange light effect and was convinced it was a spirit image. I've lost track of Mr. Hill but have never forgotten him. If he's still with us, he's well into his 80s.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Boot stick

An old root cane too short at less than 28 inches to be a walking stick. What was it used for? To shoo away dogs? A friend found this stick at an estate sale in metro Atlanta. Great paint and great overall surface.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Honey, something's happened to the TV

A Nam June Paik sculpture currently for sale here. Paik, a Korean-American born in 1932, is described as the pioneer in video art.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Leafed behind

Last year's leaves have fallen and been blown away, sucked up or raked into bags, but they're not totally gone. The leaves' natural dye seaps into concrete, leaving stains. A big apartment complex near my home where nature has "spoiled" the sidewalk will probably expend considerable effort early in 2011 trying to erase these images of 2010. So I decided I'd try to capture the haphazard complexity of the leaves' imprints before they disappear.