Frank Calloway: Pageants from the Old SouthThursday, March 05, 2009
I've been talking with Andrew Edlin of Edlin Gallery in NYC, who represents Frank Calloway (the 112-year old artist from Tuscaloosa).
Note: his age has been well disputed.
His caretakers have suspended sales of his (Frank Calloway's) artwork until after the show after finding out that some of his drawings could sell for thousands of dollars.
Frank Calloway was born poor, black and fatherless in Montgomery, Alabama approximately 95 years ago and has been committed since 1952 to the buildings and grounds of the Bryce Hospital and the Alabama Department of Mental Health in Tuscaloosa. Calloway did farming and gardening work on the 200-acre campus of the hospital. When U.S. District Judge Frank Johnson revised work standards in 1972, replacing manual labor with arts and crafts, Calloway began to draw. Using mainly crayons and markers Calloway became so obsessed with his art that the staff began giving him 30-foot long rolls of butcher paper to allow him to continuously create.
His murals often consist of processions of farm animals, people in houses, buildings and buses, working men on their trucks, paddle wheel steamboats, locomotives and trains, and their crews. They burst with color: deep greens, highlighter yellows, navy blues and Pepto-Bismol pinks. Many are stained with tobacco juice. His images of houses with their smoke-billowing chimneys recall Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.