Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art” by Betty-Carol Sellen describes James Harold Jennings as having been raised and “lived with his mother, a school teacher, until she died in 1974.” Jennings works ranged from bird houses, ferris wheels, angels; all colorful constructions. He used graphic symbols some target like, resembling pointillism, often included verbiage which added luminous humor to the assemblages. His “Tufgh” women beating up on men were frequent subjects for his apparently bawdy sense of humor.
We discovered this sensitively made miniature violin at an antique “mall” east of Huntington, West Virginia in the middle 1980s. It was documented as being made by Joe Byrnside in Boone County, West Virginia, circa 1940s.
It is made of bent and carved wood, with decorative paint illustrating the maker’s signature J and B. The delicate metal “strings” are attached to the tail piece traveling over the bridge, up the neck and tightened over the tuning pegs. It also has F holes and a lovely scroll on which a short piece of old string, perhaps for hanging, is attached. The skill set shown indicates a true understanding of both the musical instrument as well as its construction. It is in excellent condition, all original to the maker’s vision and hand.
Measurements: approximately 12″ long x 3.5″ wide x 1.5″ tall
One of an extended family of well known, and collected folk art carvers from rural Kentucky, Jim Lewis joined his brothers and cousins, including Junior Lewis and Tim Lewis. The work of Minnie Adkins, and the late Garland Adkins, highly regarded regional folk artists, inspired Jim Lewis to begin carving. He had worked as a heavy equipment operator before working exclusively on his art, working in basswood, as well as maple for his canes. We attended events including the sorghum festival and the annual “Day in the Country.” We purchased several of Jim Lewis’s canes and other sculptural work, including this early mermaid. Collectors of this genre of work recognize the importance of seminal work such as this mermaid. Early work, we feel is most inspired, most original. These pieces are signed and dated 1993 and 1994. His more recent work is sold at regional galleries. His work has been displayed ” nationally and internationally” including the Museum of American Folk Art and is sometimes available at the gallery at the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, Kentucky.
Probably better known for his music than his art, drawn with markers and ballpoint pens. Wesley Willis’ art focused nearly exclusively on urban landscapes, specifically Chicago, his hometown.This work was one of several purchased from the artist as he worked streetside. It is a 1986 drawing titled “Dan Ryan Expressway 51st St.” one of his favorite subjects. This is typical of his cityscapes which tend to include tall buildings, as well as semi-trucks, buses, and freeways. His work has been exhibited at Chicago’s Intuit gallery.