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Quote and Credit

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Harry Bentz Cowboy Artist / Western Folk Artist









 Among outsider art enthusiasts, The phrase "real deal" comes up often. Those who have become familiar with the material know what it means.  It could be a certain look to the work. It can also be as much the artist's motivation as skill. Harry Bentz is what once would have been called the work of a Sunday painter or a folk artist.  An amateur. Maybe he was an American primitive.  Maybe not.    

Actually the most accurate label would be Cowboy Artist. Mr. Harry Bentz was the real deal when it came to roping, riding and even mining. A real cowboy who made art. Untrained, but highly motivated to learn and create. 

There are a few brief biographies. My guess is that Bentz found himself some time and started using it to make art. In the 1960s he painted what could be some 200 works. Along the way, he learned that through some primitive xerox (ayup) and a goofy photo stat process of some sort (ayup) he could make editions!  Of a sort. The cowboy took advantage of modern technology available to the common man.  Again speculating, I believe the artist wanted something to sell in a rack alongside his paintings at events.  How many of these could range into the hundreds.

As with many primitive painters, he used found material to paint on. Some were uneven, large boards.  Many of the sketches are on the reverse of used paper from the Bureau of Mines.   

Apparently Bentz was working on a book.  Among his papers are handwritten captions for "Sketches of the West" which would have been 60 pages.


The drawings would not have been shown art fairs, but at western events. In some ways, as far outside of the contemporary art world as one can be.  He fished, hunted, broke horses, played the guitar and took out pack teams as a hunting guide. In 1951 he became a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association. He began serious painting while working on a ranch near Kennewick, Washington. Reflected in his work is the life he lived.
 
All paintings and drawings collection Jim Linderman.  





   





Love During Wartime Vietnam Edition. Pair of Snapshots


Love during wartime, Vietnam Edition.  Identified as "house girls" on reverse.  Anonymous photographs, circa 1970 Collection Jim Linderman  One of a continuing series on Dull Tool Dim Bulb.

Trench Art with a Twist Hammered copper sculpture made from old copper stills after World War One




Trench Art with a twist, but not all trench art was made in a trench. Generally, the term refers to art sculpture made from expended artillery shell casings. Nothing to do but stay down, cringe at the incoming and hammer copper. However this group of decorative items was made by a different group of soldiers.  As noted on the reverse of the image, These fine examples were made by disabled soldiers as they recuperated. The material is taken from the remnants of old copper stills.  Prohibition provided the material!  World war one ended in 1918.  Prohibition started in 1920.  Must have been a bitter pill to have fought for your country only to return without having even a beer. 
 
The Trench Art  of the Great War website refers to pieces like those above as convalescent soldier art.  The Wikipedia entry for Trench Art suggests "Outsider Art" as a related category.

Original undated, anonymous 8 x 10 press photograph circa 1920.  No credits on photograph. 

Collection Jim Linderman

NIuglo's Huge Camera! Mexican Pin up Photographer for Vea Magazine



It's Niuglo's huge camera!  Largely a mystery, the staff photographer of Pin up magazine VEA was an unrecognized master. In this cover photograph from 1954, he places a model next to a massive antique camera. He appear to have been staff photographer for VEA magazine from 1941 to 1954. He also sold work to Star Magazine. Niuglo is likely a palindrome of his surname Olguin. He also produced and sold postcards of beautiful Mexican Women, possibly at tourist shops and through the mail. 
VEA magazine (Mexico) 1954 collection Jim Linderman.


El fotógrafo personal de Pin up revista VEA era un maestro desconocido Niuglo. En esta fotografía de portada desde 1954, pone un modelo junto a una antigua cámara masiva. Parecía haber sido fotógrafo para VEA revista desde 1941 a 1954. También vendió la obra a la revista Star.
Niuglo es probablemente un palíndromo de su apellido Olguin. Curarmepara produce y vende postales de hermosas mujeres mexicanas, posiblemente en tiendas para turistas y a través del correo.


A Big Mess of Old Folk Art Fish Carvings


A hanging catch of the day!  Hand carved old folk art fish on the line.  
Pine with applied eyes.  Each 12" long.  Circa 1940.  Collection Jim Linderman

James J. P. Scott African-American Folk Art Totems, Lafitte Louisiana c. 1992 Photographs Jim Linderman


James J. P. Scott African-American Folk Art Totems, Lafitte Louisiana c. 1992 Photographs by Jim Linderman

Blind Artist and True Memory Painter Mary Drake Coles




You might have heard the term "memory painter" as a slightly disparaging reference to artists who recreate pleasant rural scenes from the past in a folky manner.  Grandma Moses comes to mind first, of course, but there are many more with varying degrees of skill. 

Mary Drake Coles was a true memory painter.  A successful artist who upon being diagnosed with glaucoma  began practicing to remember how to paint.  To this day there is no real cure for the disease.  Some progress quickly, others delay blindness with prescription eyedrops and surgery to relieve pressure in the eye.  Still, it is a diagnoses one wouldn't like to hear.  Blind Artist is not a common phrase.

"I began trying to paint from memory as early as I could, while I still had some of my vision and could see what I was creating" she said.  She established unchanging positions for her colors and her brushes.  The first attempts were dire, but she persisted.  After several years of practice her vision was taken away fully, but she had developed an abstract style based on remembered realism.  As of 1964, it is reported she had seven one-woman shows in NYC, three of which were held after she was sightless.

Work by the artist is hard to find.  My attention was drawn by seeing an eBay listing for a group of her works.  Several photos are cribbed from the auction.  A wonderful film profile was posted several years ago by Legacy Connections Films.
Mary Drake Coles from Legacy Connections Films on Vimeo.


See also Martha Vinyard Association HERE
and L. A. Brown Photography HERE
Photographs (top) from article by Mel Stein from the National Insider February 18, 1964
Listing on eBay HERE 

A curious photograph. Orphans? Wards of the State?



A real photo postcard from the turn of the century depicts three children with odd dresses.  The woman in charge is "Mrs. Davis" and all three youngsters have different last names.  Each has a small number written on them, the corresponding names are written on the back.  My first thought was they they could be orphans.  Early visitors to Japan? Any guesses welcome.

Real Photo Postcard c. 1900 - 1930.  Collection Jim Linderman

African-American Quilt Drawings by Sarah Mary Taylor of the Delta




A pair of interesting drawings by African-American Quilter Sarah Mary Taylor of Yazoo City, Mississippi.  Circa 1993.  Known widely for her quilts, I suspect she may have done several hundred drawings before passing on.  These are surprising for their unusual form.  Most of the drawings I have seen were designs based on her standard, repeated quilt figures.  Hands, human figures and animals.  I've always wondered if anyone has her original templates for quilting…and if she even used them!  Free-hand pieces here represent a house (with a figure inside tucked under a quilt?) and numerous irregular squares.  If Ms. Taylor made a "house" quilt, it would look more like this drawing than the traditional quilter's house form or pattern.  Lots of crosshatching.  The floating figure on the other piece?  A melon abstraction within four corners.  Cosmogram?


The house at the time I visited was not green.  Then, her tiny place was painted a bright orange, and I cribbed a photo from wikipedia commons here.  I have no idea how many houses she lived in, but I do know she had five husbands over her long life.  It was hard to keep a family together in the Black south of the early 20th century.
Ms. Taylor was born near Betonia, Mississippi in 1916.  A cook, a nanny and a field hand.  Also from Betonia at the same time?  Skip James.  A blues musician of staggering talent who would have been performing around the area at the same time.  Sarah would have been 14 at the peak of his depression-era career.  Betonia had a population of less than 200 in 1900, and has only 500 now. Could she have missed him busking?  He recorded a dozen or so sides in 1931 then went missing until musician John Fahey and others located him in the 1960s.

This is deep Delta.  Betonia is  right down highway 49 from Yazoo.  I wish I had asked her if she remembered Skippy James.  Both come from the same place, after all.  The musician has the same root as the artist.  Same well.

The drawings are now, as far as I know, in private hands.  The one I gave my avid-quilting mother is lost.  


Two drawings by Sarah Mary Taylor circa 1993 Private collection

Bettie Page by Rudolph Rossi Original 8 x 10 photograph tinted by hand c. 1953



Bettie Page by Rudolph Rossi Original 8 x 10 photograph tinted by hand c. 1953
Collection Jim Linderman / Dull Tool Dim Bulb

Antique Folk Art House Model of Medical Gauze and Plaster


Antique Folk Art House Model of medical gauze and plaster.  Constructed over medical supply boxes. 13" tall.  Circa 1930 - 1940.  Thanks to Box Lot

Precocious Prosthelytizers





Young actors of the stage (or pulpit?) pose in pitch cards by photographer Frank Wendt Circa 1900, collection Jim Linderman

Antique Dollhouse Built by Uncle Joe



Antique Dollhouse "Built by Uncle Joe" vernacular snapshot c. 1930 collection Dull Tool Dim Bulb

Anonymous Outsider Art / Art Brut found on the streets of Manhattan



Anonymous Outsider Art / Art Brut found on the streets of Manhattan circa 1985.  Now lost.  Each was 18 x 24. 
Order books and affordable E-books by Jim Linderman HERE

Lonnie Holley Birmingham Alabama Outsider Art Environment Unpublished Photos c.1992






Photographs of Lonnie Holley and his workshop at what has come to be known as the Birmingham Alabama Airport environment.  They date to 1992 or so.  I believe at the time this was both "studio" and home for the artist.

You'll find dozens of his sculptures (made from scrapped foundry sandstone) and hundreds of painted and shaped works of wire, fabric and detritus. It might look ragged, but every thing was purposeful and in place. Something out of a dream. While chatting and touring with the artist, I realized everything was connected through small caves from which children began to emerge.  Beautiful, handsome young children who had been living (or hiding) in their places for safety.  Shy at first, they romped like any kids as they became comfortable with my visit.  


Holley had purchased the land intending to establish it as a refuge for artistic expression.  He was certainly not one short of artistic ideas. Apparently the airport didn't agree and claimed the land. I hope the artist and his family received what was deserved, but it sounded like a land grab at the time. Mr. Holley was and is a genius. This is something I have learned to know and increasingly appreciate over the last 25 years.

Dust to Digital has released several of Mr. Holley's recordings HERE. A feature article was published by The Guardian which tells his personal story in depth.

ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHS by Jim Linderman Collection Dull Tool Dim Bulb.

Boy Evangelist Press Photograph with touched up Bible Charles E. Jaynes Jr. 1938


Boy Evangelist Charles E. Jaynes Jr. and his hand embellished Bible. Original Press Photograph and paint 1938.  Photo by E. Stephen.  Collection Jim Linderman

Walter Hale and the Beatniks




A bizarre beatnik booklet from Beelzebub Books!  1959. Height of the non-existent beatnik revolution.  An unexpurgated expose of the beat generation! (Which was largely a big-media invention in the 1950s...there were only about five real, actual, living beatniks.) Life Magazine had nothing on this shocking expose! It just one of the moronic magazines produced by one man. 

The book is "edited" with a pastiche of purloined press from "editor" Heater Wall.  Heater Wall cribbed clippings and such from prominent "beatnik" writers and paired them with risque photos.  

"Heater Wall" was really Walter Hale.  A carnival barker of a publisher.  A legendary huckster and promoter.  Hale produced a string of vintage vehicles which ran on dames, most of them burlesque dancers. He distributed his magazines in an unusual manner…by giving them away at carnivals and strip shows he promoted.  In fact, the fine folks at Something Weird Video have even located..and generously provided, free of charge only to you, our special clients, step right up here today, an actual film of Hale pitching his porn!  Hale Published Tom Cat, Girls, Scandoll, Hollywood Confidential and Play Girl (for which he was sued by no less than Hugh Hefner)  Enjoy the clip at the end of this article.

The best part of Walter Hale product (other than the publicity photos of strippers from the golden age of stripping) is his alliteration.  Never has a publisher run together so many words which start with the same letter. That is Hale taking his "step right up" slogans to the smut market.  

Shown here is but a few of the other magazines in the Walter Hale catalog.  Collect them all!






 
Books by the author are available HERE as instant  Ebooks and paperback or hardcovers at Blurb.  
   

How is your New Years Resolution going? Percy and his Tiny House


A wirephoto press photograph showing Percy Coplon as he prepares for drastic measures to control his weight.  Caption reads "Plans to fast atop 30 foot pole.  Percy Coplon, all 357 pounds of him, stands beside the tiny house in which he plans to fast for 100 days.  
Original 1949 Wirephoto Photograph.  Collection Dull Tool Dim Bulb

Artists and their Models. Painters paint Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks










Representations of painters on paperbacks from the 1950s and 1960s. The most recognized artist in America was Norman Rockwell at the time.  These ain't him.