‘Caucasian, Bloody and Syphilitic’

“George Washington,” c. 1986, by James “Son Ford” Thomas at Steven S. Powers’ booth. Credit… Lila Barth for The New York Times.

… If you keep your eyes open, some unexpected moment of beauty will stop you in your tracks.

(Will Heinrich)

The 31st annual Outsider Art Fair… is New York’s largest clearinghouse of work by self-taught and marginalized artists…This is what stood out to me…

Heinrich surveys 10 booths from the fair, including that of Steven S. Powers, which has the Washington bust.

Powers, a New York dealer, has an especially eclectic and winning mix. Start with James “Son Ford” Thomas (1926-1993), sharecropper, gravedigger, Delta bluesman and, since childhood, working ceramic sculptor with specialties in skulls and busts of George Washington. The Washington here, with dirty cotton hair and an expression of ominous blankness, is spattered with red — it makes him look Caucasian, bloody and syphilitic.

(Will Heinrich, “Portraits of Elvis and Dreamlike Visions at the 31st Outsider Art Fair,” New York Times, 3-3-23)

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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