When I think of the term
"Folk Art" it conjures up
the vision of art of the
people. Wikipedia describes
it as art created by an
indigenous culture, peasants
and tradespeople. In essence,
it is art of the people.
Folk Art encompasses a wide
variety of mediums that are
generally utilitarian in nature
rather than being created
for aesthetic purposes only.
Characteristically folk artists
have gained skills through
apprenticeships and are
not academically trained. Many
are self taught.
Grandma Moses (1860 -1961) born
Anna Mary Robertson is often noted
as coming into painting in the
later part her life. The truth
is she was introduced to painting
during childhood. Her father liked
to see his children draw and would
supply Anna and her brothers
with paper to do so. It would
occupy them for hours. Anna would
use lemon and grape juice along
with other natural materials to
create colors to paint her landscapes.
"Garden of Praise"
Growing up on a farm where
her father ran a flax mill
didn't leave much time for
pursuing the arts with any
consistency. At 12
Anna became a house keeper and
continued in that occupation
for years. At 27 she met
her husband Thomas Moses. They
eventually purchased their
own farm had a family. Anna
was always creating and using
her hands. She made quilted
objects and embroidered pictures
until she came down with arthritis
in her mid 70's.
It was at this point that
she began to re-unite with the
painter inside. By this time her
husband had passed and she
was living with her daughter.
Painting was easier for her
and encouraged by her sister as
the embroidery became too painful.
Moses created what she called "old-timey"
landscapes. Some of them reflect her
childhood love of paintings done by
Currier and Ives. The scenes envelope
the viewer in a story that often
depicts a sense of community and
rural life. The forms are simple
and lack traditional perspective
which make them all the more
engaging and easy to relate to
in my opinion. While there is a
childlike quality to them the
detailed expression seems to speak
to someone with maturity and
"Sugartime" 1960 16" x 24"
She began to get noticed at the age
of 80, eventually getting published
on the cover of Time and Life Magazines.
Perhaps her biggest supporter was
Louis J. Caldor who purchased a collection
of her paintings that were featured
in a drugstore window in Hoosick Falls, NY.
Caldor then convinced the Museum of Modern
Art to include the works in a members only
show of contemporary folk painting.
Today Grandma Moses is one of the best
know American artists in history and
her paintings are included in collections
at the Metropolitan Museum in NY as well
as several others in the US.