Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grass Roots Traditions
Featuring Mose Tolliver

August 7, 2008-September 6th, 2008
Opening Reception, Thursday Evening August 7th, 6-10pm

Essie Green Galleries exhibits the works of one of the most acclaimed artists of the folk art tradition, Mose Tolliver. The exhibition is entitled: Grass Roots Traditions.

Mose Tolliver is major contributor to the American visual arts tradition. Born the son of a sharecropper in the segregated south, Tolliver barely finished third grade. Instead, he preferred to work with his hands as a gardener and later as a mover for a furniture company. In the 1960’s an unfortunate accident left Mose partially disabled. Art became his therapy which aided Tolliver out of a depression prompted by his injury. He began painting with house paint on any surface ranging from furniture to metal trays. He became most known for his playful animals and self-portraits.

Mose Tolliver’s whimsical, deeply personal, and mysterious paintings have made him one of the most significant American folk artists. Dr. Robert Bishop, the Director of Museum Folk Art said of Tolliver’s paintings: “You can hang him beside a Picasso, and you have the same kind of creativity and deep personal vision.” He remains today an influential figure of the southern self-taught art tradition.

Folk Art generally is considered to be a representation of a traditional way of life. One could say that the value of Black folk art can be attributed to its ability to keep alive at a grass roots level vital Black American traditions, which also contributes to the kaleidoscope of American cultural and visual experiences.

In the last few decades Folk Art has proven to be an accepted and admired art form, with increasing exponential sales in both Christie’s and Sotheby’s Auction Houses. The self-taught artists of this form have become respected members of the art community, so much so that many of them are considered to have greatly influenced other contemporary artists. Black folk art has been a visual arts tradition in America for over 400 years, having ties which reach back to a distant African past.

Essie Green Galleries is honored to present an exhibition of Mose Tolliver’s master works and is certainly one of a few and possibly the only black owned gallery with an extensive black folk art collection.

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