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October 28, 1989 - Image 51

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The Museum of
American Folk
Art's permanent
collection
contains several
famous pieces,
including
(clockwise from
top left):
summer quilt
with appliqued
farm scene by
Sarah Ann
Gargis,
Pennsylvania,
1853; "Girl in
Red Dress with
Cat And Dog" by
Ammi Phillips,
New York, 1834;
"Neil House
With Chimney"
by William
Hawkins, Ohio,
1986; trade sign
for bicycle
livery, carriage
and paint shop,
Amidee Thibault,
Vermont, 1895.

$e 0 Om
1141440

0

The artists it features
are unknowns, but the
Museum of American
Folk Art is doing quite
well, thank you.

BY JESSICA DAVIDSON

1

n New York's Museum of
American Folk Art, the paintings
and sculptures gracing the gal-
lery walls were produced not by
Picassos and Monets but by men and
women with names that could be pull-



ART

ed randomly from a telephone book.
These artists — who would be
shocked to hear themselves referred
to as such — hail from towns and
villages like Great Neck, N.Y., Schaef-
ferstown, Pa., Wyandotte, Mich., and
Plain, Wis. They earned their livings not
as artists but as merchants, seam-
stresses and housewives. Their fami-
lies were about as impressed with their
artwork as our families are with ours.
Many of the items in the museum's
permanent collection were originally
utilitarian in purpose. They were
produced by talented cobblers,
resourceful housewives and enterpris-
ing businessmen, who never envision-
ed that their boot-scrapers, trade signs

and quilts would be enshrined in a new
museum-gallery across the street from
Lincoln Center on Manhattan's trendy
West Side.

"These are the paintings and sculp-
tures that were consigned to attics,"
says Jerry Wertkin, the museum's
assistant director. "They lurked there
for sufficiently long periods of time that
when they're found, they're usually in
bad condition."

Now these paintings, sculptures,
samplers, paper dolls, trinket boxes,
quilts and home-made pieces of fur-
niture — many of which evoke mem-
ories of second grade "show and tell"
are finally being appreciated.

FALL '89

51

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