CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN FOLK ARTISTS by Elinor Lander Horwitz
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CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN FOLK ARTISTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As she did for last year's Mountain People, Mountain Crafts, Horwitz allows the folk artists she has found at home throughout America and the miraculous objects they have created to speak for themselves. Though they do make technical comments on their work--says retiree Gideon Cohen of his flower fantasies, ""I always put the poppies in the center or just a little off center. I don't know why. They just seem to tie in everything. Do you see what I mean?""--most are (in Horwitz' words) ""embarrassed by the interviewer's comments about the desire for self expression or the relation of art to dreams and fantasies."" ""I'm not an artist. It's just something I do,"" says grocery clerk Charles Gleason. As for fame, the attitude of former field hand Clementine Hunter, now over 90, is typical. She has never attended any exhibitions of her work, explaining ""I ain't interested. I don't travel."" And New Orleans' Sister Gertrude Morgan says of her biblical scenes (most from Revelations), ""I'm a missionary to Christ before I'm an artist."" Then carver Miles Carpenter of Waverly, Virginia, tells how a fellow from the museum in Williamsburg asked to buy the watermelon he had made from a tree trunk as a sign for his stand: ""I told him I needed it to advertise my watermelons, but I said I'd lend it to him in the winter."" But whether the artists are whittling Harry Truman, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and other notables from California redwood, constructing a miniature general store complete with wares and idlers, or wrapping themselves in ""total environments"" like Creek Charlie's house of polka dots or James Hampton's bizarre D.C. garage housing gold and silver foil-covered cast-offs transformed into a ""Throne of the Third Heaven,"" all are natural wonders, gloriously revealed.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1975
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Lippincott