Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


The Birdhouse, American Folk Art, Good Better Best and Mr. Ivan Laycock

The late Robert Bishop, early director of the Museum of American Folk Art (now the American Folk Art Museum) had a way of evaluating the objects in the collection. "Good, Better, Best" was his mantra, and the criteria for determining which was which took into account everything from shape and form to wear and surface.

The first thing any boy makes, out of wood anyway...is a birdhouse. Some pine, a handsaw, the careful first lesson with a drill press for the window, a dowel for the perch and a dozen nails. Shop teachers grade on it, Mothers coo like birds over it and Father helps hang it in the tree. Soon the birds appear and teach additional lessons.

Sometimes, like Billy, the slow sweeping boy in Larry McMurtry's novel "The Last Picture Show" birdhouse makers can't stop. Shown here, in order...and to illustrate the concept of good, better best are the following:

1. The Garage Workshop of Mr. Ivan Laycock (real name) from Central Michigan who sold hundreds of his ramshackle, permanent marker covered houses to vacationers, circa 1992.2. A circa 1930 real photo post card showing the wares of an anonymous maker who favored the "pumpkin patch, christmas tree, pick your own" approach to selling.
3. The Granddaddy of all birdhouses being shown by, well.... someone's Granddaddy in a c. 1930 snapshot.

Birdhouses Original 35mm photography, c. 1992 Birdhouses Real Photo Postcard c. 1930 Birdhouse Snapshot c. 1930 All Collection Jim Linderman


  1. One of the great lines in American movies:

    "He was sweeping, you sons of bitches. He was sweeping."

    Thanks for remembering Billy.

  2. This reminds me of some of the places I've passed on travels that had hundreds of whirlygigs displayed for sale. All along their fence and in the yard. I'd zip by so fast and then think "what the heck was that?"

  3. I loved the first picture in close up; what's the guy sticking out his tongue chasing the bird with, is that a paint brush or a knife? And the three sets of tits are pretty funny too.

  4. Great, thanks very much for taking the time to follow, read AND comment, it is much appreciated! Jim