Tag Archives: homely art

Homely Art – Amos Sewell

Still being under the weather and filled with sinus head-pain, I decided to go back to a subject I love so much that the post will simply write itself.  You know I love Norman Rockwell and his art, and I fervently believe that kind of mass media oil-painting does not put him in a lesser category than Rembrandt or Michelangelo or Raphael or any other painter with a ninja turtle namesake.   He is a genius, and though he is not a realist in so many ways, his work is more truthful than practically any other kind of painting.  If you are taken by surprise and didn’t know I had this passionate obsession, maybe you should go back and look at this post;   Norman Rockwell

Now that I got that out of my system, here is another Saturday Evening Post artist that is often confused with Rockwell.  His name is Amos Sewell.

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Sewell was an amateur tennis player who was talented enough to win tournaments.  He was an employee of Wells Fargo who was headed towards anything but an art career until he decided to make a leap of faith in 1930.  He started as an illustrator for Street and Smith pulp fiction, and soon caught the notice of the big-time magazine markets for his art.  He published art for Saturday Evening Post,   Country Gentlemen Magazine, and Women’s Day.

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Like Rockwell, he was able to find the funny in everyday scenes, like the dance party to the right.  That young man at center stage is trying so hard not to step on the feet of the red-headed girl, that you want to laugh, but can’t because it’s obvious how embarrassed he would be, and the charm of the picture leads you to shun the thought of interrupting.  The scene is so real the boy would hear you laughing as you looked at the Post cover.

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More expert on this kind of art than I am is the Facebook site that I first got turned on to Sewell by.  Children in Art History

They can also be found on WordPress.  Children in Art History (WordPress)

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There is no doubt that Amos Sewell belongs in the same pantheon of artists as Norman Rockwell, Thomas Kinkade, or Paul Detlafsen.  They are all artists who achieve in their work exactly what I have always striven for.  I want to be able to hold the mirror up to our world the way they did.  I want to capture both the fantasy and the reality in the subject of everyday family life.  I also want to share this work with you because I cannot stand the idea that such artistic ambrosia could one day be forgotten in archives where no one ever looks at it and feels the message in their heart.

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Filed under art criticism, homely art, humor

Homely Art, Mom-Style

I am assuming, probably incorrectly, that you have seen enough of my art work to come to the conclusion that I am a bit of an artist.  Amateur, of course.  You have to make money at it to be professional.  I used a great deal of my artistic abilities in the classroom as a teacher, and while you come eventually to an appreciation for that small sacrifice, you can’t really call that making money at it.  And I am good enough at drawing to know where the mistakes are… the flubs and the flaws and the not-so-happy little accidents (I truly appreciate the genius of Bob Ross, and I know I am not Picasso or Da Vinci… but I can draw better than he ever could.)  I know my artistic junk is kitschy junk in so many, many ways.  But I believe that some of the best art is homely art… the art you keep in your house… not gallery quality, but irreplaceable to you yourself.  And the point of this article (dreamed up while spending some alone time in my octagenarian mother’s  house due to illness) is that I got my love of homely art from my mother’s house, the house I grew up in.

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These two goofy dinos are an example of what I am talking about.  These two revered family art objects were bought as greenware porcelain from a mold at an Austin pottery-art store.  Mother fired them in her kiln.  I painted them in acrylic.  They are now living happy lives in my Mother’s dining room.  Oh, and they are made to be displayed together like this;

20150702_130218Most of mother’s art gallery-like house is filled with items just like this.  No value to the history of art.  Not museum quality.  No more important than any other item of homemade functions-more-as-a-token-of-love-for-the-person-who-gave-it artwork.

Let me show you more of the many wonderful grandma-treasures that fill my mother’s house.

This was our Grandma Beyer’s glass doo-dad cabinet that for many years held sacred glass gewgaws and thingamajigs from the the thirties and forties.  Mom inherited it and put all new grandma-treasures in it.

20150702_130319The cabinet holds all manner of precious vacation souvenirs, graduation photos of my sisters and brother and I, weird animal salt-and-pepper shakers, candle holders, souvenir plates, Precious Moments figurines, Hummels, pictures of long-gone relatives, and a variety of other things that each has a story behind it, a long and lovely story of years and tears and fears and more years.   It is a cabinet full of memories and celebrations.  Collectibles and corny joke items.  There is no price that ever could be put on it, and one day it will all be given away.

Mom has collections of stuff everywhere.  Christmas stuff, Thanksgiving stuff, and stuff on display just because Mom likes it sort of stuff.  Much of it is antique simply because the people are old and have kept this stuff long enough to make it antique.  It is displayed in every available nook and cranny and corner of the house.

20150702_13041420150702_130304And, of course, what every visitor to Mom’s house most wants to see are the dolls.

She was a very talented porcelain doll maker.

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20150702_130355 20150702_130433 20150702_130710 20150702_130736 20150702_130805The art that is most important of all in my mother’s house, though, are her greatest and most valuable creations.  That would be US.

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Filed under autobiography, doll collecting, humor, photo paffoonies

Homely Art – Part Two – Paul Detlefsen

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Back in about 1968 my Grandma Beyer was seriously scandalized by an artist named Paul Detlefsen.  Detlefsen did a lot of covers for the “Ideals Magazine” that Grandma always had on her coffee tables.  He scandalized her by putting a painting on the cover that showed a young boy taking his pants off, the rear view only, so he could go skinny dipping with a group of naked boys.  Truthfully the picture shown above is by Detelfsen, but it is not the one that offended her.  I have discovered that this painter of old-timey things like blacksmith shops and one-room school houses has painted at least four different versions of “the Old Swimmin’ Hole”.  And Grandma was easily scandalized when we were kids.  She was a very conservative woman who loved Ronald Reagan and his politics most severely and thought that Richard Nixon was a leftist radical.  She didn’t like for people to be naked, except for bath time, and maybe not even then.  She is one of the main reasons, along with this painter whom she adored, that I came to learn later in life that “naked is funny”.horseandbuggydays-print  http://www.freeplaypost.com/PaulDetlefsen_VintageArtPrint_A.htm

Grandma Beyer also seriously loved puzzles, and besides “Ideals” covers, Paul Detlefsen did a beaucoup of jigsaw puzzles. (Beaucoup means a lot in Texican, I tend to think in Iowegian and talk in Texican and completely forget about the need to translate for those people who don’t know those two foreign tongues)   One of the puzzles we spent hours working on was “Horse and Buggy Days” that I pictured here.  They were the kind of puzzle paintings where every boy was Tom Sawyer and every girl was Becky Thatcher.  And there were a lot of them.  Here is another;

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Grandma had this in puzzle form also.  We put the puzzle together, glued it to tag board, and framed it.  It has hung on the wall in a Grandparent’s house, first Grandma Beyer’s and then Grandma Aldrich’s, since the early 1970’s.  My own parents now live in Grandma Aldrich’s house, and that puzzle-painting may be hanging in an upstairs bedroom to this very day.  Detlefsen is not known as a great artist.  He was a humble painter who painted backdrops for films for over 20 years.  In the 1950’s he switched gears and started doing lithographs that were turned into calendars, jigsaw puzzles, laminated table mats, playing cards, and reproductions you could buy in the Ben Franklin Dime Store in Belmond, Iowa and hang on your back porch at home.  I believe I saw his paintings in all these forms in one place or another.  According to Wikipedia (I know, research, right?) “In 1969, UPI estimated that his artwork had been seen by 80 per cent of all Americans.”  That is pretty dang good for a humble painter, better numbers than Pablo Picasso ever saw.  Let me share a few more of his works, and see if you recognize any of these;

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Filed under art criticism, art my Grandpa loved, artwork, homely art, oil painting

Homely Art – Part One – Thomas Kinkade

Fantasia  These images can be found at http://thomaskinkade.com/

I honestly have a thing for artists that critics hate and common folk like my parents and grandparents loved.  Norman Rockwell is a bit like that.  He enjoyed commercial success as a magazine illustrator.  That is about as far from avant garde art as you can get.  But what can I say?  I don’t call myself an artist.  I am a cartoonist and all around goofball.  I don’t do serious art.  So the questions surrounding Thomas Kinkade bounce off my tough old non-critical hide like bullets off the orphan of Krypton.  I love his pictures for their gaudy splashes of color, his way with depicting puddles and water of all sorts (splashes of splashes), and his rustic homes and landscapes of another era.  This is a man who does lovely calendar art and jigsaw puzzle art.  He is roundly criticized for factory production of “original” oil paintings which are actually a base he created and made a print of painted over by an “assistant” artist or apprentice.  But I don’t care .  I like it.  And you used to be able to see his originals without going to museums, in art stores at the shopping mall.  He is unfortunately dead now.  For most great artists, that makes their work more valuable and more precious.  Kinkade’s art hangs in so many homes around the country already that his fame has probably already reached its peak.  Look at these works that he did for Hallmark and Disney and various other mass-market retail outlets.  I dare you not to like it.

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Filed under art criticism, oil painting, Thomas Kinkade