Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Intuit Benefit Slotin Auction and Folk Art Maker Identified!

Watch me cram a ton of information into one post, both visual and textual! Some of you know I collect real photo postcards of folk artists at work or showing their wares, and in fact recently published a book with over a hundred illustrated. IN-SITU: American Folk Art in Place by Jim Linderman. Well, here is a splendid example of "Hand Scroll Work" by one W. H. Roach from Gretna, Virginia. I show it now for several reasons. One, the giant Fretwork prayer he carved, seen here on his right, is up for auction at the Slotin Folk Art Auction in Atlanta on May 1-2. I love Steve Slotin and his family, and am pleased to give them this little plug, as well as share the image. The actual piece is lot number 662, and a splendid item it is, especially now that I have identified the goofy maker for you all! I hope the winning bidder finds this post one day.

Secondly, I would like to point out many of the lots in the auction are incredible pieces donated by wonderful folks to benefit INTUIT, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago. With an active membership and great programs, the organization deserves your support. They deserve mine too, but I'm lazy, shy and broke so this post will have to suffice. Secondly, There are also many items up for auction to benefit a scholarship in the name of the late Clay Morrison, a folk art collector and founding member of Intuit at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Both worthy causes! Slotin Auctions are fun, friendly, fast and furious...at least for the first 6 or 8 hours...and there is online bidding as well.

DANCE! Lumberjack Festival during the Depression Michigan

The First Lumberjack Festival was held in Edenville, Michigan in 1932. From the clothing and such, this photograph could be from that date or quite soon after. The event was immediately popular, attracting 10,000 folks the following year, and that's really a crowd in rural Michigan. An anonymous 8 x 10 photograph, it is one of my favorites. Imagine how the crowd sounded as these two gents, quite possibly the mayor, or some such stilted dignitary, ham it up for the crowd while the fiddlers play.

Untitled Anonymous Photograph, circa 1935 Collection Jim Linderman

Lowell Root, Practicing Phillumenist and his Matchbox Collection (Not Match.Com)

Did young Lowell Root KNOW he was practicing Phillumeny? I think he was probably a Phillumenist without being aware of it. But something drew him to the graphics applied to small wooden boxes which held safety matches. Who can blame the boy? Colors, shapes, the allure of a phosphorus burst striking on the side of the box.

I found this amazing scrapbook of wooden match covers not long ago. Lowell carefully numbered each piece and stored them as well as he could. At one time, I have read, there were more match labels than there were postage stamps. Hard to believe, but then I guess you can consider which was more important in 1920, when this collection was put together...mail or fire? A toss-up.

I do not collect matchboxes. I also do not pass by an opportunity to own someone's collection of cool things. Only a few pages are shown...and some splendid individual examples I favor, including the robot, which is apparently rare and valuable enough for knock-offs to have been produced. Young Root got lucky there. As for "impregnated"...no, you can not fertilize a matchstick. The term refers to the chemicals applied to the tips. It was intended to prevent afterglow (hmm...another term which brings human relations to mind, strike a match indeed) and for some reason that was something to crow about.

The Granddaddy of all Phillumenist collections is, natch, in Japan. Take a Virtual trip through the museum HERE

Large collection of Wooden Matchbox covers, circa 1920-1930 Collection Jim Linderman

The Most Beautiful Child Actress in History Mystery Frank Wendt and Charles Eisenmann

It appears Frank Wendt was originally brought in by Chas. Eisenmann as an assistant and business manager. Eventually Wendt not only took over the studio, changing times forced him to relocate to Boonton, New Jersey. He continued to photograph and produce hundreds of cabinet cards, but he was also known to reprint Eisenmann originals, on request, as customers replenished their stock. One such sitter was the beautiful young mystery actress shown here. The large portrait, by Wendt, also appears on an earlier Eisenmann card, as does the same girl in the garden pose. The third photo here, an Eisenmann photo, has not yet been found on a Wendt card, at least not by me.

A beautiful young actress...in fact possibly one of the most beautiful child actors of all, and it seems both photographers were able to capture her. But who is she?

I recently found out. Not that is helps much. On the reverse of the Eisenmann photo, a yellowed slip of paper reveals this is Edna Adams as "Little Meenie" in Rip Van Winkle. One would think a performer with the moxie to have sold at least three images of herself to admirers would be documented in the press.

What have I found? ONE lurid tale from a 1913 issue of the Pittsburgh Press. "Pretty Young Woman Says He Accused Her of Stealing Watch" which reveals the plaintiff in a lawsuit is one "highly indignant young woman, Rose Meyers, known to stageland as Edna Adams." While walking near her home, the young woman was accosted by one of three men who were standing on the corner, one of whom asked "Don't you want to go out with me" and when she paid no attention asked "Is money any object?" Miss Adams/Meyers continued walking and met her friend Walter Welfitt, also an actor, who protected her from the group. Not deterred, the crude man said "Come on, I'm on to you" and demanded the actress hand over her watch, chain and $20. Noble Mr. Welfitt "invited the stranger to remove his glasses" which resulted in an accusation that the actress had stolen his watch earlier. Apparently all charges were dropped. No row occurred...would YOU fight a man named Welfitt?

Is this the young beautiful Edna, some 15 years after these photos were taken? I believe it is. It would not be the first time a young child star falls upon hard times after growing up. I don't need to provide more contemporary examples, we've all seen them rise and fall on reality TV. More information is loaded on the web every day. We may one day know who this young woman was.

This Post also appears on the site "Wondrous World of Wendt"

Three Cabinet Cards by Frank Wendt and Charles Eisenmann, circa 1890 Collection Jim Linderman

NOTE: Our beautiful actress may have been running a scam in other places as well...a kind reader has taken the time to provide additional information:


David Bates Painter of Paintings Retrospective Glorious Southern American Painting Regional Blurt

Today's "book review from the past" is in fact an artist review and it isn't from the past, as David Bates is doing quite well. The first time I saw a David Bates painting was at the Whitney Biennial in 1987 where it stuck out from the conceptual art like a big red mistake-smashed thumb. I don't remember what it was called, but it depicted a HUGE square-jawed Goober in a red flannel shirt, a logger I think, or a fisherman, with giant gobs of oil paint slopped on actual canvas. He was holding a fish in each hand which looked like they came out of a radioactive pond, and Gomer seemed proud, curious, ashamed and, well...real all at the same time. I remember it making the whole place smell of paint. It was like painting had returned somehow to an art museum. In my mind still it sits between Marsden Hartley and Red Grooms and they are both looking up at it grinning. I show it here from a catalog I own, when I bailed out of my three-story walk-up, I wasn't feeling too well and left many of the books behind. But I did box up all my David Bates catalogs.

So among the new-wave and Guerrilla Girls and theorists and critics and Eurocentric noses hung this bigass chunk of solid Southern American Regional blurt. And I loved it.

I have followed his work ever since. I briefly owned a print he made from his early days in Texas, it was a splendid 6 color lithograph of his fishing guide or friend titled "Blue Heaven" and I wish I hadn't sold it two decades ago to meet a month's rent during the summer I was drying out. But things come and go.

David Bates is a long way from that show, but he hasn't changed much. There is a consistent body of goofy glorious work. He'll move from painting to wood to iron then back to canvas and they'll all look the same. He's done a ton of beautiful southern plants, each dripping sweet and fresh...his ham fists make an iris look clumsy and beautiful all at once. Who says painting should be delicate? His is honest, direct and bold as a fat loud neighbor but far from simple.

I have never figured out the relationship Bates has with folk art or primitives. The work is 100% sincere and faux nothing. While frontal and direct, it seems to come more from the type of person he is portraying than any strategy, technique or trick. Honest work by honest folks. And despite the often "over-friendly" simple things he paints, there is no satire or irony. Real is good, and for 25 years David Bates has painted real good.

It is a curious thing to stop one moment and realize you have had a "favorite artist" for two decades. It is also nice to have a small, tiny forum in which to share it. I once realized there were about only three things I have kept from my drunk days...Dylan, George Jones and David Bates. A back-handed compliment, but it is the truth. The gentleman above with the perfect guitar is a bonus, Johnny Shines, a blues singer who crooned and quivered like a bird. A few years ago I was able to go to an opening of his work and meet Bates briefly... he had moved uptown since I used to see his shows at Charles Cowles Gallery in Soho. He was kind and a gentleman but nervous in a suit. I think he would be more comfortable in a flannel shirt.
Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb BOOKS HERE

American Portraits: Midwest Mundane Vernacular Photography of Michigan

Another picture from American Portraits: Midwest Mundane, larger cover image, link to site for the book HERE

Preview or Order the book HERE

Link to Jim Linderman Biographical Material, Press and Articles, Testimonials and other Books HERE


American Portraits: Midwest Mundane by Jim Linderman Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books #5

Jim Linderman American Portraits: Midwest Mundane.
80 Pages 2010 published by Blurb.com

Not celebration, but documentation of a people, place and time which existed briefly in captured snaps of Central Michigan during and immediately after the Second World War. In Middle America on the cusp of the 1950s, a family fights isolation with few choices, missing sons, distant neighbors and a seemingly bleak, unfortunate reality. Black and white portraits by an anonymous photographer, these are the images he left behind. Preview at right or HERE
Additional photogaphs from the book HERE
Original Photographs Anonymous, circa 1943-1948 Collection Jim Linderman

Stardust? Nope....Sand. In His LUNGS!

Ahh, the Stardust. The glory days of the Strip when you actually had to pull a lever to place a slot bet. Today, the rubes can hardly be bothered to push a button. But they do, and despite the economy, the casino up north has glamorous folks a plenty maneuvering their scooters to the changer's booth and back to the machine for button pushing just like a monkey addicted to tobacco. For the record, the legally fixed return ranges from 75% to 83% or so depending on your state. Gee...GOOD ODDS!

The Stardust history is rife with questionable dealings primarily due to Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, who ran the show. Even his wiki page is full of, I quote "weasel words" which seems appropriate.
I don't have the time or patience to summarize Tony's life, but you can "bet" if Joe Pesci plays you in a movie...you have a colorful story. I can tell you, however, that when he was found buried in a cornfield along with his brother "the autopsy performed on the recovered bodies allegedly found sand in the brothers' lungs, leading examiners to speculate that they had been buried alive" Later testimony disproved this. I'm no doctor, but I attribute it to some windy days in the early days on the strip.

Anonymous Vernacular Snapshot Collection Jim Linderman

The Paintings of Camera Club Girls by Rudolph Rossi

So a few folks have received their copies of Camera Club Girls, and two wrote to say "They're PAINTINGS" and I'm like, yup. Do you think I would do a book of plain ol' PHOTOGRAPHS of naked women? Indeed, Rudolph Rossi took all these black and white nude photographs around 1950, blew each up himself to 8 x 10 (or larger) and HAND-PAINTED them all. That was sorta the point. They are tinted like many photographs throughout history, but Rossi took it to the extreme.

Group of Rudolph Rossi Photograph Details, circa 1950 Collection Jim Linderman
LINK to Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE

Herbert Freeman Orlando Artist

I used to be quite involved and enamored of what was once known as outsider art and is now known as who knows what. I can only do so much, so have drifted to other things. I don't know what to call it, but I have always felt the untaught are God's chosen artists, and no artist with art training, no matter how good, important or profound, has any advantage at all over one who creates without the training. I'll even go as far as to say those without training are even MORE exceptional for the most part, as it comes from an innate, still not understood but certainly no less difficult and no less important place. When created under less than ideal circumstances, as this appears, it is also certainly a far greater accomplishment. I have no idea who or what Herbert Freeman is, but this is exceptional work. More information is at The Freeman Project.

Bro' Tom Skinner Lays a Love Bag of Skin on you (the Thrilla in Manila Paper)

I present Tom Skinner and his "Up from Harlem" to steer you the right way. Preacher Tom lays his Jesus bag on heavy in this great, great Al Hartley penned "Spire Christian Comics" to correct your behavior.  Skinner sorta invented the "Jesus Freaks" back in the hippie days.   

Spire Christian Comics specialized in taking regular comic book figures, such as Archie, Dennis the Menace and other normal (but sinning) characters and giving them a solid dose of good ol' faith. (They also had the nerve to charge 39 cents each)  Comic books for the kids at Bible Vacation Camp. 

Righteous Al was able to line up Archie and others for the series because he worked for Archie Comics. This one doesn't have the red-head in Riverdale going up to Harlem for a score, unfortunately.  "Jughead...DRIVE!"

I've been on the corner indicated in the top picture many, many times. It ain't like that, Bro.
Skinner passed away, but donated his papers to the Billy Graham Center Archives in Wheaton, Illinois. A most valuable resource, and one which will be increasingly important as research is done on right-on, high five alive messengers such at Tom (lay me some skin) Skinner.Tom Skinner Up From Harlem Spire Christian Comic 1975 Collection Jim Linderman

The Mechanix of Folk Art

All Cribbed from early 1930s issues of Home Mechanix.