Archive for December 5th, 2011

Mr. Eddy

I came across another outsider folk artist whose work really hit with me.  It was from a gentleman by the name of Eddy Mumma who was born in Ohio in 1908 and lived the last part of his life in Gainesville, Florida.  It   Mr. Eddy, as he was known, started painting when he was in his early 60’s and continued in an obsessive fashion until his death at the age of 78 in 1986.  

Having lost both legs to diabetes, his daughter urged him to take some art classes just to get out of the house.  His instructor called his work sloppy.  This both caused him to quit the class and served as the ignition for an obsession that saw him paint hundreds of paintings in his distinctive manner, with heavy layers of paint of mainly figures with round eyes and and five straight fingers on each hand that created a design pattern of their own in his work.  He also painted both sides of his canvasses or boards, sometimes hanging framed pieces with the glassed side to the wall to better show the painting on the back. 

His work was never for sale although he did allow a local artist/teacher, Lennie Kesl, to purchase a number of pieces over the years in exchange for his friendship and assistance in obtaining supplies.  There is a nice recollection of Mr. Eddy from Kesl on the Southern Folk Art site that documents some of Mumma’s idiosyncracies as well as a short bio from Mumma’s daughter.  His work was obtained by a dealer from his family after his death.

There’s something very warm and inviting in the work of Eddy Mumma, something very familiar. In his better pieces, it is bold yet orderly and the repetition of forms that he uses create a running dialogue through his body of work that seems to speak, in a visual manner,  to unspoken parts of the psyches of others.  I often admire the work of obsessives like Mr. Eddy, identifying with that need to experience that  feeling of discovering something in each new piece.  Their work, while appealing to others, is created to satisfy some internal primal need for creation ans expression.  There’s something almost otherworldly in this for me and seeing their work often reinforces that feeling.

I definitely get that from the work of Mr. Eddy.  His work is inspiring to me as any great master and there are things I see in his work that make me want to get right to my brushes. 


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