Hello! Today I am sharing the work of Joseph Yoakum. Joseph Yoakum (1888-1972) was a self-taught landscape artist who created his drawings from memories of his travels. He traveled extensively due to his employment with a circus, and then with the army during World War I. Yoakum eventually settled in Chicago where he worked various jobs until he began to make art in his 70s. He created over 2,000 artworks within the last ten years of his life!Read more…
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a Chicago artist named David Philpot. David could fill a room with joy. I worked at a museum where he helped us run workshops for our teacher training program. Students that were usually distracted when visiting our museum would drop their jaws in silence when David showed up carrying one of his incredible art staffs (which were usually about 6 to 8 feet tall). From teachers to students, everyone listened eagerly to every word that David said. I am sharing his art today because his work should be even more widely recognized.
David Philpot was born in 1940 in Chicago. He was a self-taught mosaic artist and wood-carver who created intricately detailed and embellished art staffs. He used various discarded items to decorate his staffs, including jewelry, shells, mirrors, and beads. David carved the staffs out of locally sourced wood from the Ailanthus altissima tree or Tree of Heaven, which grow like weeds in Chicago. David used to tell his story about being called by a power higher to go outside to the ailanthus trees and cut one down (they are small trees). That was in 1971. It took him about one year to make his first staff. He went on to create 350 more staffs, which are now in collections all over the world.Read more…
“I am not interested in complicated things nor in the commonplace, I like to paint simple things that are a little strange.”Gertrude Abercrombie
I am excited to share the work of one of my favorite artists, Gertrude Abercrombie. I can’t get over her color palette! It’s gorgeous and moody. We have a painting of an owl and cat in our collection, and it is always a pleasure to view it. (As you may know, I am obsessed with owls.)
Here’s some background information on Gertrude Abercrombie. She was born in Texas in 1909. Her parents worked for a traveling opera company. She and her family briefly lived in Germany until World War I broke out. They relocated to Illinois, where she remained until her death in 1977.
Abercrombie was involved in the Chicago art and jazz scenes. She was a painter and pianist. She loved hosting salons in her apartment with appearances from notable musicians, such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.Read more…
These artworks from Project Onward do a great job of lifting my spirits. I hope that you feel the same. We all need a break from the doom and gloom.
Project Onward is a studio and gallery located in Chicago that supports the work of artists with disabilities. Project Onward started in 2004 and currently has over 60 artists participating in the program.
I had the opportunity to volunteer there when I lived in Chicago. It will always be one of my favorite arts organizations. The artists are truly amazing people who have overcome many challenges, and their art is a way of healing and building their self-esteem while gaining well-deserved recognition for their talents. Their creativity is endless.
The artwork made by Project Onward artists ranges from spectacular glitter masterpieces to intricately detailed drawings. Some of the artists specialize in portraits, including amazing pet portraits. (I admit that I have a growing collection of pet portraits that I will cherish forever.) Artwork can be purchased through the online shop. Half of the proceeds go directly to the artists.
We exist to give artists with disabilities a “visual voice” to tell their stories and change the perceptions of the world. Project Onward is a studio and gallery dedicated to the creative growth of adult artists whose lives are impacted by mental illness and developmental disabilities. Our non-profit studio is inclusive and we embrace artists with a wide range of life experiences. Some are self-taught artists who have Autism, while some are formally-trained artists who have bipolar disorder. There are other artists with challenges that are equally complex. However, all of them willingly explore the innermost recesses of their minds to create powerful works of art.via Project Onward website
Please note that all images are copyright © of the individual artists and used on this blog for educational purposes. Selling, printing, or repurposing artwork without an artist’s permission is not nice.
Continuing with the theme of recycled and found object art from previous posts, this week’s featured artist is Mary Ellen Croteau of Chicago. She creates art with bottle caps to help bring awareness to the impact of waste on the environment.
Regarding her piece Tsunami (above), Mary Ellen states on her website:
“Tsunami is made mostly of water bottle caps. I personally think that single-serve plastic bottles are a major curse on our environment, and most especially water bottles. Most of us do not need to have bottled water at hand. Getting people used to spending more money for water than they spend for a gallon of gasoline is devious and disastrous for the future of the planet; letting corporations control our water sources is evil.”
I first came across her work in 2012 at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Her Endless Columns, inspired by the sculptures of Constantin Brancusi, were vibrant towers amongst the greens of the plants and flowers. My 4-year old was very impressed, and from this, we discovered our love of collaborative art making with bottle caps. We will be posting some ideas for bottle cap art projects for kids soon!
To view more of Mary Ellen’s work, please visit her website at maryellencroteau.net.
Image credit (top to bottom):
Mary Ellen Croteau, Tsunami,©2014, 5’X8′
Mary Ellen Croteau, Jia, Uppsala ©2015, 29″x39″ framed
Mary Ellen Croteau, Endless Columns, detail, ©2010 – 2015
*Please note that all images are copyright © of the individual artists and used on this blog for educational purposes. Selling, printing, or repurposing artwork without an artist’s permission is not nice.
Scott Weaver is a San Francisco-based artist who creates elaborately detailed artwork using only toothpicks and Elmer’s glue. Scott began creating toothpick art in 1968, at the age of 8. His most famous toothpick sculpture is called Rolling Through the Bay, a kinetic sculpture which was constructed using approximately 100,000 toothpicks over the course of 37 years. Scott estimates that it took over 3,000 hours of his time to create the sculpture. The sculpture is 9 feet tall and 7 feet wide.
Wayne Kusy of Chicago is another incredible toothpick artist. I had the honor of meeting him several years ago and helping him with a toothpick art workshop at a Chicago gallery.
Wayne was inspired to start building with toothpicks in fifth grade after completing a school project using his chosen medium. Wayne started small and eventually worked his way up to building toothpick versions of ocean liner models, ranging in length from 4 feet to 25 feet. His largest toothpick sculpture is the 25 foot Queen Mary, which was made using 814,000 toothpicks and 19 gallons of Titebond II.