Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Apron Money Pouch with Frugal Note Flour Sack Fabric with Frugal Message Sewing Folk Art

Miniature Apron sewn from flour sack cloth with a note inside about saving money. Folk Art circa 1930 - 1940 Collection Jim Linderman

Albert Freeman Pair of Folk Art Portraits c. 1940 Collection Jim Linderman Outsider Art

Albert Freeman is another artist we might not ever know much about. I believe his work was discovered by Robert Cargo, long time collector, dealer and advocate of southern 20th century American folk art. I was recently pleased to find he had donated significant portions of his collection (particularly a wonderful collection of African-American quilts) to the Birmingham Museum of Art. While not illustrated, they acquired a dozen or so Freeman works. I find several good examples of his work online. Most are portraits like the pair above, although a small painting of a lion is illustrated in the outsider art chapter of Wendy Lavitt's Animals in American Folk Art in 1990. All were done on scrap paper and found cardboard. Mr. Freeman was active from 1940 to 1950. Untltled (Man and Woman(pair of portraits) circa 1940. Collection Jim Linderman

Antique Folk Art Portrait Drawing of a Young Woman Anonymous

Antique Folk Art Portrait Drawing of a Young Woman. Cut out and affixed to cardboard. Anonymous. Early 19th Century Miniature.

Self Taught Primitive Painter Israel Litwak 1867 - 1952 Vase with Flowers collection Jim Linderman

Israel Litwak was born in Russia and immigrated to Brooklyn in 1903. After his long career as a cabinet maker, he began producing lively and unique drawings and paintings which he shared with the Brooklyn Museum. They gave him a one man show! He was included in the seminal book They Taught Themselves: American Primitive Painters of the 20th Century. See a similar work (without peeping gentlemen) in the Brooklyn Museum collection HERE ISRAEL LITWAK UNTITLED (VASE WITH FLOWERS) 17 X 20 1940. COLLECTION JIM LINDERMAN / DULL TOOL DIM BULB

Sylvia Roberti "Birds in a Border" Outsider Art collection Jim Linderman

Sylvia Roberti was from near Chicago and her drawings were created in the 1960s and 1970s. About all that is known comes from the information she diligently provided on the reverse of each work. It isn't unusual for outsider artists to boast of their accomplishments. Also common is her technique of "framing" her work through a decorative border. In her series of bird drawings, some are so contained within her frame that they seem walled in! "Cereal Box" cardboard cut and glued together. "Bird and design creative original by Sylvia Roberti Artist Italian descent. Water color+perm+ in crayon on pencil color. Free lance pen + ink" Two works by Sylvia Roberti, 1969, 1971. Collection Jim Linderman

Outsider art Folk art Baseball Greats Collection Jim Linderman

Five baseball star outsider art portraits by a woman (a Braves fan!) created in the late 1950s. The amateur artist surrounds each with colorful misshapen borders. Rocky Colavito of the Cleveland Indians, Jackie Jensen of the Boston Red Sox. Roger Maris,then of the Kansas City Athletics, Don Drysdale from the Los Angeles Angels and finally, the great Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs. The pieces were obtained by an auction house back in the 1970s. Apparently there were less than ten pieces at the time. Five drawings on lined paper, mounted on Manilla. Collection Jim Linderman / Dull Tool Dim Bulb ORDER JIM LINDERMAN ART and PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS from BLURB

Lonnie Simmons The African-American Musician and Photographer who never slept

Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons is an Unsung Hero of Photography, so let's  bring another great African-American artist out of the dust of obscurity.  Once known as "The Man Who Never Sleeps" Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons was an African-American jazzman (more than anything else) in his younger days playing with no less than American treasures Fats Waller, Hot Lips Page, Chick Webb and more.  Many more. He recorded under his own name as well, including "I Can't Get Started" on the Parrot label (in which he played both organ and saxophone, probably at the same time.)  If you are not yet impressed with Lonnie's musical chops, his Jet Magazine obit reports he also played with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.  Parrot was a label which lasted only three years in the early 1950s, but some of the recordings were reissued later on Chess Records. 

Though Simmons performed up until the the end, He passed after a fatal stroke at age 80 according to Euguene Chadbourne, it is his work as a photographer of primary interest here.

A photographer too?  I'm getting a little tired of finding great talented people no one taught me about in school.  

So Lonnie, or Samuel, is called "a free-lance photographer" in passing in the few places you might find information about him. 

Born in Charleston, South Carolina (Actually, in Mt. Pleasant, an isolated pocket in the low-country coast and a plantation-era place near where slaves landed. A bridge to Mount Pleasant was built in 1928.

Lonnie's father was a blacksmith who went back nearly to slave days, passing at the age of 82 in 1955. Lonnie's father was just one notable blacksmith named Simmons from the Charleston area.  On his father's passing, Lonnie went back to Mt. Pleasant to bring his mother back to Chicago with him, and it was her first plane airplane ride.  His appearance at the funeral was notable enough for the local paper to interview him, where Simmons is reported to have "gradually drifted into take pictures for newspapers and magazines" and that he maintains his own darkroom in his Chicago home.  The headline reads "Mt. Pleasant Negro Musician Becomes Press Photographer" and adds a few more musical giants among his playing partners.

It was not unusual for Mr. Simmons to leap from the bandstand with his camera to capture events, including crimes. A one-man forerunner of the surveillance camera, his pictures were used by the Chicago Police for evidence and he earned honorary membership in the Chicago Patrolman's Association.  Much of his photography was taken at the legendary Chicago Club De Lisa and I now believe the photograph below was taken by Mr. Simmons in his "spare time" as picture maker who roamed the club supporting his income with snapshots. 

The dance photos shown above were Lonnie's. Scarce not only because they show the "Black and Tan" nightclub era (an era not generally regarded as worthy of documentation at the time by most photographers) but also because most of Mr. Simmons photographs have not been exhibited.  The originals may be lost. We can hope a relative finds this post, digs them out and produces the coffee-table book he earned but no one made.

Somebody has some, as Mr. Simmon's photographs were apparently used in the 1995 documentary PROMISED LAND narrated by Morgan Freeman for the History Channel, which while acclaimed was forgotten. You can read about it in web comments where people keep asking why it isn't available on DVD…one of whom writes "It is a shame that this great work of truth has been overlooked." Par for the course. The documentary is about the migration of southern African-Americans to Chicago. Lonnie Simmons was one of them, and fortunately he brought his camera.

Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons photographs appear in Ebony, Jet, The Chicago Defender, The Pittsburgh Courier, The Crusader and Cabaret (a magazine which documented burlesque in the 1950s and from where the photographs above were taken) and I suspect others once considered unsavory race and pinup magazines from the 1950s on. The portrait of the young musician is from the Charleston Jazz Initiative at the School of the Arts, College of Charleston, South Carolina. Jet Magazine recognized Lonnie's talents and skills…as well as using his photographs (including the astounding picture of a dancer flying above a drummer, which I have cribbed but credited) they also reported on his adventures, including being bitten by an eel and having his instruments stolen HERE.

PHOTOGRAPH OF SAMUEL LONNIE SIMMONS Charleston Jazz Initiative Archives


Original Club DeLisa Photograph and Sleeve collection Jim Linderman 


Dan Burley : An African-American popular culture hero


Dan Burley is the most famous folk you never heard of. Why? Because he was an African-American man. Sorry, but that's just the way it was. (Is?) If you did a six degrees of separation chart for Dan Burley, it would include everyone of any importance in the music and publishing world, but yet again I'll ask. Do you know who Dan Burley was?

Well, let's see...He appeared in films with Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. He wrote music for Cab Calloway. In fact, one can trace his own piano playing right to the Beatles song Lady Madonna. Are you humming that piano run in your head yet? Thank Dan Burley.

Some people can do more than play. Burley was editor of Ebony Magazine way back in the 1930s. He married the first African-American woman to sing in Madison Square Garden. He invented the word Bebop, reportedly, and also created the Harlem Handbook of Jive. I mean, get HEP!
During World War Two, the USO show he organized was the black version of Bob Hope's entertainment for the troops.

He wrote for Elijah Muhammad.

He helped create Jet Magazine

He was personal friends with Ed Sullivan. NO ONE was friends with Ed Sullivan!

He had a radio show. No, he had TWO radio shows.

More importantly for our purposes here...Dan Burley published a GIRLY MAGAZINE!

He published the first serious African-American Men's magazine with sisters posing! DUKE! 1957. That's right...A skin mag with class and Beautiful Black Babes (Not to mention the writing of Chester Himes.) It was a high-fashion lifestyle magazine for the African-American man, a Playboy magazine for the Hood! As such, it SHOULD end my ten-part series on the African-American pin up and should also goose a real writer into a serious biography.

If you search Dan Burley, you'll find him identified as a sports writer. A Journalist. A Jazz Musician. A Poet. And yet he only lived 54 years. His Wiki Biography (which also omits his smut magazine) is HERE

Unfortunately, Duke Magazine lived for only six issues.

There's a few other interesting stories I'm leaving out...but it seems like a pretty high life.

Vintage Marvel Comic Book Covers recreated by an Anonymous Artist. Avengers Number One and Tales of Suspense Number 39

An ardent fan hand draws two legendary Marvel comic book covers! Shown here are The Avengers issue one 1963 and Tales of Suspense number 39. Faithful but quirky! These were purchased at an auction in the 1970s and saved for nearly 50 years. Shown here with the now pricy original covers. This enthusiasm for the early Marvel characters certainly led to the billion dollar empire today. Pair of amateur comic book covers, anonymous. Circa 1965 - 1970. Each 6" x 9" Collection Jim Linderman Dull Tool Dim Bulb

Unusual Polaroid Salesman Sample Photograph

Unusual Polaroid Salesman Sample Photograph c. 1947 - 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Vintage Wooden Matchbox collection c. 1926

Selected pages from aVintage Wooden Matchbox collection c. 1926 Collection Jim Linderman

Art of the Homemade Flip Book

Three primitive "flip book" drawings unstapled for your pleasure. Anonymous, circa 1960. The unknown cartoonist created these 4 page sequential gag cartoons to show motion. Well, he tried. Anonymous homemade flip books, c. 1960 Collection Dull Tool Dim Bulb

An African-American Calling Card in Calligraphy Mance McDaniel Plantation Entertainer?

Elegant and a bit odd, what appears to be the calligraphic calling card of a 19th century performer. The name is certainly an unusual font. Mance McDaniel was a "Singin, and Dansing Comeden" and someone has written "plantation show" on the reverse of the card in pencil. I haven't found anything but maybe some of you deep divers into data will find something for me. I did find a reference that the name "Mance" has been derived from "emancipation" at times, so this could be an old time musicianer who entertained sometime around then? 19th Century Calling Card. Collection Jim Linderman

Antique American Folk Art Button Table Mat

A somewhat obsessive table mat with over 1,000 individually sewn buttons, circa 1940. 18" x 30" with irregular patterns. The piece is sewn over thin cardboard mailed from Sears to Maine...and an old spaghetti box! Hand-sewn folk art button collection sewn on a table mat. Circa 1940. Collection Jim Linderman Dull Tool Dim Bulb

Andy Warhol "Limited Edition Prints" by the USPS and Fred Collins

Two limited edition prints here. One is a limited edition print of sorts (a United States postage stamp) affixed to another print on an envelope. It is an individually hand-painted print mailed on the first day of issue for the Warhol stamp used to mail it. August 9, 2002. 

For some bizarre reason, it was reported the Warhol 37 cent stamp was unveiled at the Gagosian Galllery on Madison avenue. WHAT? Jeez, I wonder if "Go Go" had any Warhol works in the back room? Gauche! 

Fortunately another source says the stamp was first presented at the Andy Warhol Museum where it most certainly belonged. The stamp was originally a photo booth portrait, and it appears the Warhol Museum owns the original. It was actually a passport photo from the 1960s. The artist first made his own prints of the image in 1964 which were sold for "a few hundred dollars." A later edition (The Red Series) from 1965 were apparently given away. Read the story of one disputed print HERE in the Daily Mail. The average print run of a United States commemorative stamp is around 50 million. That is a lot of tiny Warhol works, but still limited. The annual limited edition Christmas stamps double that number and then some. 

How many were mailed on special envelopes like this one? Only Fred Collins knows. Mr. Collins made his living creating and selling first day covers. His website currently shows one available for $12.95, which seems quite fair considering it was painted by hand. The stamp carried a 37 cent face value and still does. It isn't a "forever" stamp, but is forever worth exactly 37 cents worth of postage. Didn't even change over the last eighteen years of economic turmoil. Or whatever. I don't know if Mr. Collins work fluctuates. Collins seems to have escaped any validation from the art world…but among "first day cover" collectors he is highly regarded.

The source for Fred's drawing was a photograph taken by Burt Glinn of Magnum Photos in 1965. Andy pops out of a sewer with Edie Sedgwick! She wore her hair "Warhol-style" but hers was real. Also shown is Chuck Wein. He "discovered" Edie at the office of their mutual shrink. Wein was played by Jimmy Fallon in the 2006 film Factory Girl! Right now, one has to pay a streaming service three bucks to see it.

Antique Folk Art Animal Carvings with Original Paint

Antique Folk Art Animal Carvings with Original Paint. "Make-do" mounted with wires. Collection Jim Linderman / Dull Tool Dim Bulb

Lisa Z. Sigel The People's Porn: A History of Handmade Pornography in America Book Review

Lisa Sigel is an audacious scholar. Her field of study is old as the species, but still appears to scare the pants off academia. None of us would be here if it weren't for sexual activity and that makes it one of the most important areas for study, yet Sigel's afterword details a harrowing pattern of denied fellowships, grant rejections and any interest at all from cultural institutions. Their eyes are closed. 

 The author writes that "there are no big grants or prizes for the study of pornography. Foundations, ever since the year of the Mapplethorpe (1990) do not fund general scholarship on pornography or erotica and most institutions will be penalized with cuts in federal funding if they inadvertently discuss erotic objects." Meanwhile, Facebook continues to figure out how to eliminate errant female nipples from postings through artificial intelligence.

 It might be a stretch, but in some ways this compares to the reluctance of art institutions to accept the work of folk and outsider artists. Nearly one hundred are illustrated here. They will certainly open some eyes, although most of the wondrous objects shown in The People's Pornography have yet to find any acceptance at all. That is except for those owned by a handful of adventurous collectors and the Kinsey Institute. One characteristic of all the work shown is their scarcity. Think of the amount of material tossed by horrified surviving family members if they came across some of the art shown here.

 Sigel takes on all manner of handmade and homemade erotic objects. They may look pornographic but all reflect true human emotions the makers struggled with. Or simply enjoyed. They display humor (hilarious gag objects intended to surprise) or extreme violence, such as the work created in prison by imaginations which might be out of control. Still, all exist and all are worthy of appraisal.

 Sigel also takes on what those here will recognize as "term warfare" as we figure out how to categorize and understand art made by the creative impulses of the untrained. Maybe there are outsiders and WAY outsiders. Just flipping through the images here will shock some. Well…many. Others might remember familiar "dirty jokes" traded among classmates. Although this is a scholarly and historical approach, Sigel manages to provide a highly readable narrative. She writes like other recent authors who popularize science (think Mary Roach and Caitlin Doughty). This book isn't just for the pictures.

 There have been several other books on erotic folk art. Milt Simpson, who recently celebrated his 95th birthday, published the lovely Folk Erotica: Celebrating Centuries of Erotic Americana in 1994.. Thomas Waugh's book Out / Lines : Underground Graphics from Before Stonewall provides scores of homemade gay pornography in 1982. Lisa Sigel's own article "Flagrant Delights" in Antiques Magazine July/August 2014 is also recommended. 

 Purchase The People's Porn: A History of Handmade Pornography in America HERE 

Lisa Sigel bibliography of books and publications HERE

Meet the Press Leatrice Joy Original Press Photograph 1921

I don't get to use the word exhuberant very often, but this "edited" for publication press photograph certainly is. Nearly more paint than photo. From the flowers on the bonnet to the stripped tie, there isn't a whole lot of honesty left. Leatrice Joy was a glamor celebrity and silent film star. By the time this photo was taken in 1921 she was well on her way to fame with dozens of short films to her credit. Her first films were shot during world war one! She also lived to the age of 91,passing away in the Bronx New York. Leatrice among those credited with popularizing the Bob haircut. Joy came under a considerable amount of flak at the time for being kinda manly or something, but the cut allowed her to play both young men and women in the films. Gossip columnists were big liars then and now, but she does appear to have been one tough woman who didn't take much crap. During 1921 Her films included half a dozen lost features. The following year she divorced big star John Gilbert citing his alcoholism. Original edited by hand Press photograph 1921. Unknown Washington DC News? operation. Collection Dull Tool Dim Bulb