A Remembrance from the Consignor: Self-Taught Art in the South | February 20, 2024

Brunk Auctions is pleased to present a small, but impressive, collection of Outsider & Self-Taught Art to auction in our upcoming American & Western sale on March 8, 2024. Among other works on offer, is the collection of the Gassenheimer family. This selection of works by Mose Tolliver, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Jake McCord, and B.F. Perkins represents a personal and passionate accumulation of art.

Rolman-Smith examining the North Carolina Executive Mansion Chandelier<br />

During the early 90s, the consignor, along with family and friends, traveled throughout the Southeast visiting many artists prominent in the Outsider & Self-Taught scene. This would lead them to have personal interactions and forge friendships with these eclectic, warm, and authentic personalities. The consignors were kind enough to provide us with a few short stories about the artists they met and some personal photos they took along the way:

Rolman-Smith examining the North Carolina Executive Mansion Chandelier<br />

“I was a photographer for Reuters in Washington, DC when I met Pat Gallagher who was a videographer for cable TV. A mutual passion was folk art and together we embarked on a trip through the southeast to meet the prominent folk artists of the day. From this came a trove of black and white and color photographs, oral histories, video of artists at work, and a trailer for the documentary we’d started. Best of all were the friendships made and art purchased during this magical time.

In addition to the artists whose works you have, we met Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Howard Finster, Bessie Harvey, and others.”

Mose Tolliver

“I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama (another story) and my mother, who was a painter and art patron, was friends with Mose T. She introduced my sister and I to him and we visited often because, as you can imagine, it was loads of fun!

Mose T lived in a small house in a Montgomery neighborhood located very near Alabama State University and less than five minutes from the steps of the Alabama State Capitol. There was a sofa on the front porch, usually occupied by a young relative acting as a doorman/guard for Mose. He knew us as friends and more often than not, we talked and laughed for a while and said our goodbyes without talking much about art, but sometimes he would show us new work and we would make a purchase.

Because of an injury sustained during a job, Mose was somewhat disabled and painted from his bed. His bedroom was his studio, office, and parlor so guests were welcomed. It was a happy home with his fantastical creatures, his titillating women, and strong cross art all hung together. Visiting Mose in his home was truly a fun, head spinning experience. He loved to laugh, was always joking and much of the time it was naughty. Especially when we showed up with his favorites- fried chicken and beer- to enjoy together.”

Important Early David Drake Attributed Inscription Jar, sold by Brunk Auctions, November 21, 2020

Mose T. Beginning one of his painted crosses.

Conference views at SEMC in Louisville and Brunk Auctions in the SEMC program

Pat Gallagher of Southern Stories watching and listening as Mose completes a batch of cross art. Pat was making a documentary film on folk artists of the Southeastern US.

Jimmy Lee Sudduth

“Jimmy Lee kept a big bucket of mud-paint beside his chair. He went on walks to collect his art materials. He showed us how he collected and used the elements around him. Poke berries were used to create purple. His studio was outside or on his front porch in the sunshine and he most often used his fingers and other natural objects like sticks and rocks as painting tools. We watched him thumbprint red heads on the figures in his lively painting of the Washington Monument.”

Conference views at SEMC in Louisville and Brunk Auctions in the SEMC program

Jimmy Lee and Pat stand with “Couple” and “Washington Monument”. In the 1980s Jimmy Lee Sudduth visited Washington, DC for an exhibition of self taught art. Upon returning home he painted this landscape, as well as several other large pieces, from memory.

Conference views at SEMC in Louisville and Brunk Auctions in the SEMC program

Jimmy was funny and talented, he played a wide variety of music, sang, told jokes and was a great storyteller. He would play harmonica accompanied by his dog “Toto”, who he taught to sing along.

B.F. Perkins

“Reverend Perkins was a military veteran, he was very patriotic and painted flags to show his devotion to his country. He graced the entrance to his property with them. Flags, crosses, and nautical symbols were his frequent icons. He lived in remote woods and the birds visited in flocks so he hung his painted gourds everywhere for them. A dynamic preacher, he was also a kind and generous man recognizing and celebrating the goodness he saw in the world.

Sometimes B.F. Perkins painted outside on a picnic table but usually painted on his kitchen table. As with each of the outsider artists, creating was an every minute of every day experience. Reverend Perkins loved company and could paint and carry on a conversation at the same time.”

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum and the Derby Museum at Churchill Downs

B.F. Perkins was a passionate preacher and he built a church on his property. Up until his death in 1993, he would leave his assisted care facility to return to his home in order to paint and preach on Sundays.

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum and the Derby Museum at Churchill Downs

Perkins in his kitchen, you can see some of his trademark flags adorning the walls behind him.

Jake McCord

“Jake was a one-man yard crew and all round handyman. He was the kind of person you’d want for a friend and I was honored to have him paint my portrait. Jake McCord referred to these types of portraits as “Pretty Ladies”, portraits inspired by women he would see around town and on the television.”

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum and the Derby Museum at Churchill Downs

Jake with one of his “Pretty Ladies”.

Jake McCord

Jake in his yard. He was known around town for displaying his works on his porch and was very particular about when they were ready to be purchased. It was important as many people as possible got to see each piece before they were ready to go.

“All of the artists we visited loved people, loved that people were interested in their art and what they had to say and actively lived lives of artistic expression every day.”

The Gassenheimer collection will accompany other pieces of Outsider & Self-Taught Art which you can view here

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