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Continue Reading March 20, 2010 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment

Woodie Long 1942-2009

Daily News

SANTA ROSA BEACH – Local folk artist Woodie Long died Monday night. He would have turned 67 on Oct. 19.

When Long first picked up a paintbrush in 1987, he was 45 years old and had never painted anything smaller than a house. He had no formal training.

The paintbrush belonged to his wife, Dot, a portrait painter who was out of the house taking a class at the local university. When she came home, Long had finished three paintings.

She saw something in them. So did her art professor, who offered to buy them for $30 each.

Long kept those first paintings, but had his first show three weeks later. He brought 38 paintings and sold all but two, taking home $1,800.

CLIICK HERE to see photos of Woodies’ studio.

Thirteen years later, his work was hanging in more than a dozen museums across the country and he estimated that he had sold 10,000 paintings.

His wife never painted again. Instead, she is her husband’s bookkeeper and the one who sets the prices. The works of this former housepainter have brightened the covers of more than 30 publications and even the simplest of his paintings sold for hundreds of dollars.

“People come in,” he said in a 2000 interview with the Daily News, smile lines wandering back to his hair. “They say, ‘Your works are expensive.’ I say, ‘Have you bought a van Gogh lately?’ “

Artist Curtis Weatherall remembered meeting Long three or four years ago. He found Long sitting in his studio singing and playing a piano.

“He was a character, a great guy,” Weatherall said. “And he will definitely be missed.”

Long was one of 12 children born to a Plant City, Fla., sharecropper. He could not read or write very well, since his father didn’t believe in school.

“I’m nothin’,” he said. “I’m just a housepainter. The good Lord touched my hands and made me an overnight success.

“That’s why they’re goin’ to put me in jail. For impersonating an artist. But they ain’t done it yet.”

(from NWF Daily News –


November 12, 2009 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

The passing of Jake McCord

Jake (JT) McCord passed away September 1 at the age of 64. Funeral services were held at Zion Baptist Church near Lincolnton, Georgia. A native of Lincoln County, where he picked cotton as a child, McCord moved to Thomson as a young man and worked for the city for over 40 years.

Jake will be missed by many. He was a soft-spoken gental soul, despite his tragic and abusive childhood. Jake became famous for his paintings on plywood, which he would nail to the walls of his porch. He called this his gallery and said he put them on his porch, so the town children could come by and see his art.

His paintings were usually children playing with their pets, cats, dogs and animals from the farm. He had a unique vision using bold strokes and bright enamel paint. The McDuffe Museum will reconstruct the front porch of Jake’s home and display his art as he did for years.

One of his paintings of his home church rested against his casket, during his funeral service. Henry Drake, a longtime friend of Jake, said during the service “I was always glad to see J.T coming to see me. Sleep on my friend J.T. and save a seat for me.

– Ted Oliver

November 12, 2009 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

New Self-taught Artist show opening at the American Folk Art Museum this Friday

It is commonly assumed that contemporary self-taught artists work solely in a representational style, eager to engage in storytelling and personal memory. But while the narrative tradition often is a primary impulse, a significant number exhibit a tendency to be seduced by material, technique, color, form, line, and texture, creating artwork that omits or obscures representation. “Approaching Abstraction” highlights the work of more than forty of these artists and includes European art brut masters, such as Aloise Corbaz, Rafael Lonne, and Adolf Wolfli; self-taught artists from the American South, such as Thornton Dial Sr., Bessie Harvey, J.B. Murry, and Purvis Young; and lesser-known artists, such as Johnny Culver, Hiroyuki Doi, and Melvin Way. This first exploration into nonobjective expression within this field is selected entirely from the museum’s permanent collection.

Continue Reading November 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

Collector finds passion in ‘outsider art’

(From the Wednesday Sun)

Screen shot 2009-11-04 at 10.14.30 AM

KELLY LUDWIG, graphic designer, has more than 400 pieces of ‘outsider art.’ Ludwig wrote the book ‘Detour Art.’

Art and the people who create it speak to Kelly Ludwig in a big way.

Ludwig, Kansas City, Mo., a graphic designer by trade, began collecting art and artists’ stories as she drove around the country with roadies Mike Murphy, Randy Mason and Don the Camera Guy in Kansas City Public Television’s “Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations.”

“I have a thing for road trips,” she said. “They kind of ignited the bug in me.”

Besides designing scores of books for the Kansas City Star, two for Rare Visions and one of her own, and launching a Web site with her book’s namesake, “Detour Art,” Ludwig has amassed more than 400 pieces of what she calls “outsider art.”

The pieces she collects were created by people outside mainstream art who have no formal training. The art, for many, is known as folk art.

“I had to find these artists,” Ludwig said. “I had to see these artists.”

Ludwig’s treasures – such as a 5-foot, welded sculpture of a tin man, two-headed alligator coffee table or model of a church with aluminum siding – spill onto her porch, into her back yard and cover every nook and cranny of her house.

She embraces outsider artists who use ordinary or recycled materials they have on hand, like house paint, wood or welding tools.

“They take something they learned and apply it to art,” she said. “They are very thrifty.”

Ludwig admires the artists and their stories as much as she does their art.

“It is a beautiful world, this kind of art,” she said. “It’s vibrant, exciting and colorful. I love meeting the people.”

Whimsical tin figures, colorful paintings and mixed media dot her living and dining room walls. Fantasy creatures in brightly painted hues, animals sculpted from wood, household items or recycled materials wait to be noticed.

A colorful wooden Noah’s Ark with more than 70 pairs of tiny animals lay on the fireplace next to a Hobbit-looking creature laden with bottle caps. Painted beaded shoes, a guitar studded with flattened bottle caps and a painted bird on roller skates flank her dining room table.

“These are like great travel souvenirs,” Ludwig said.

Circumstances drive many people to outsider art, she said. They might be prisoners or in a mental institution, have experienced a tragic loss like a fire, or become disabled or retired only to find they want something more meaningful.

“They have something to say visually,” Ludwig said. “They express their relief in their artwork.”

In 2010, Ludwig will take a portion of her collection on the road as a traveling exhibit starting in Lake Charles, La.

She plans 10 shows over three years in museums throughout the United States with Smith Kramer: Museum Traveling Exhibits.

She held her first local exhibit, “Rare Visions – Detour Art,” this spring at Belger Art Center, 2100 Walnut St.

“I thought there was a craving for that kind of show,” he said. “It was a great turnout.”

Mo Dickens, gallery assistant, said Ludwig has a special quality for collecting folk art.

“She’s got a passion for it,” he said. “She is knowledgeable about the art and the artists.”

Dickens said many visitors may know a relative who creates their own brand of folk art.

“It’s not intimidating,” he said. “They can relate to it.”

Ludwig is launching project this fall that she said sums up everything she loves – design, data base, travel, folk art, off-beat attractions.

“It’s my life in a nutshell, without Lola, my dog,” she said.

With Propaganda 3 and KCPT, she will introduce an iPhone application called “Best Road Trip Ever,” with 4,000 quirky sites including hotels, museums, cemeteries and diners around the country.

“She’s been instrumental in egging us on,” Mason, a KCPT executive producer, said. “She has enthusiasm and genuine interest in these subjects.”

Ludwig said childhood summers at Lake of the Ozarks, immersed in local culture, awakened her to outsider art. That, and her mother, who Ludwig claims is the original folk artist with her contact paper crafts and plastic geraniums that attracted humming birds.

“She would just sit there and laugh at those humming birds,” Ludwig said.

A life filled with design, art, travel and people qualify her as one of the luckiest people on the planet, Ludwig said.

“My passion, job, vocation hobby – it’s all rolled in one,” she said. “I do what I love and I love what I do.”

By Linda Friedel | Photos by Edmee Rodriguez/Sun Photo
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 00:00

© 2009 NPG Newspapers – Wednesday Sun. All rights reserved.

November 4, 2009 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

“God’s Architects” new film about folk artists and their amazing environments

GOD’S ARCHITECTS trailer from Zack Godshall on Vimeo.

Deep Fried Kudzu (all things good and southern) blogger, Ginger Brook just brought this documentary to my attention…Featuring the art environments of 5 amazing artists, Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain, Shelby Ravellette’s Lacey Michele Castle, Kenny Hill’s Garden of Salvation, Rev. H.D. Dennis’ Margaret’s Grocery and Floyd Banks, Jr. castle.

To learn more about it, please visit the website.

(excerpts from the God’s Architects web site🙂


God’s Architects is a documentary that tells the stories of five divinely inspired artist-architects and their enigmatic creations.The film details how and why these oft-marginalized creators, with neither funding nor blueprints, construct their self-made environments.


In the spring of 2005, Emilie Taylor, then a graduate student at the Tulane School of Architecture, received a travel grant to research and document self-taught and visionary builders around the south. After visiting and documenting a number of builders, most of whom professed some degree of divine inspiration, Emilie shared her findings with filmmaker Zachary Godshall. Immediately attracted by Taylor’s stories, drawings, and photographs, Godshall decided to visit the builders himself.

And so in November 2005, Godshall set out from south Louisiana with a camera, tripod, and microphone to interview and document the work of Floyd Banks Jr., a divinely inspired castle builder living in the east Tennessee hill country.

Three years later, Godshall completed a feature-length film that both examines and celebrates the work of Banks along with four other solitary builders who have constructed similar monuments. Beyond the builders and their work, the film functions as a personal essay that explores the nature of inspiration and one’s dedication to a creative project, no matter how absurd or mysterious the circumstances may seem.

November 3, 2009 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

An evening of artwork by Kathy Ruth Neal

Eclectics Gallery July Header

This Friday, November 6th would have been Kathy’s birthday. She passed last year after a battle with cancer. I was fortunate to have known Kathy, and her art was a big crowd favorite at the Rare Visions/Detour Art show at the Belger. Eclectics Gallery in Brookside is having an opening in honor of Kathy, her art and her spirit.

Who: Kathy Ruth Neal and Friends

What: A retrospective look at some truly entertaining works of art!

When: Friday November 6th, 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Eclectics Gallery at 7015 Oak, KCMO, 816-361-6643

Why: Because we have been so inspired by Kathy Ruth and know that you will be too!

Kathy Ruth was a wood carver and described her work as “vignettes of American life: events of the day, at the movies, the circus, or politics.” Although Neal has recently passed away, her work carries exciting life that continues to inspire us. Eclectics Gallery was enhanced through having this talented artist show at our shop for many years, and now we would like to invite you to a look back at some of the brilliant movie-themed carvings that Kathy Ruth brought to life. Help us remember Kathy Ruth Neal’s wonderful sense of humor and creative spirit displayed through her extraordinary art. We celebrate this productive artistic life and ask you to come, see, and be dazzled!

November 3, 2009 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

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