American folk art is perhaps a smaller, extra area of interest class. Nevertheless, consultants nonetheless think about the works of artists like Grandma Moses and Joseph Pickett glorious examples of artwork created by usually untrained painters exterior the scope of tremendous artwork.
A considerably unknown however fascinating true American folk art exhibit exists in Marblehead, Massachusetts, simply north of Boston. The historical past behind the work and the examples that stay on show inform the actual story of an artist and the way his work was almost left behind contained in the partitions of a house. Since historians and critics usually neglected folks artwork and didn’t all the time think about folks artists as true artists, it’s a captivating have a look at one painter nearly misplaced in time.
THE STORY OF J.O.J. FROST
John Orne Johnson (J.O.J.) Frost was born in 1852 and spent his life within the small fishing city of Marblehead. He went to sea as a youngster, however whereas on a voyage aboard the schooner Oceana in 1869, there was a horrible storm, and Frost would by no means go to sea once more.
As an alternative, he married Annie Lillibridge in 1873 and labored odd jobs as a carpenter and as a prepare dinner for his spouse’s household’s eating places. When the Second Great Fire of Marblehead broke out on a chilly December evening in 1888, it destroyed Frost’s father-in-law’s restaurant and greater than fifty buildings on the town. Frost continued to work along with his in-laws at one other restaurant whereas his spouse Annie Frost was busy constructing her minimize flower enterprise that, by 1900, was booming.
TRAGEDY CREATES AN ARTIST
In 1919, Annie died. John was devastated, lonely, and struggling to seek out function. At first, he noticed himself as a historian, writing articles for the native paper about his childhood recollections of the fishing commerce within the city. Then, on the age of seventy, Frost tried portray as one other approach to inform his tales.
He began portray on leftover hunks of wooden or wallboard, utilizing home paint or any supplies he may discover. Like many folks artists, he had no formal artwork coaching, so his work had the primitive model of American folks work. He additionally made wooden carvings of sea birds and fish. Frost hung out bringing his work round city in a wheelbarrow and even tried to open his personal museum that includes his items, however he had little to no success. He couldn’t promote any of his work.
KEEPING HISTORY ALIVE
Frost died in November 1928. His son, Frank Frost, needed to honor not solely his father’s expertise but additionally the sacrifices of the fishermen on the town, a lot of whom had given their lives fishing the chilly North Atlantic.
Frank donated about seventy work to the Marblehead Historical Society. On the time, the MHS was chargeable for the restoration and maintenance of the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, which it had bought in 1909. The Frost work had been saved within the mansion’s attic, awaiting the completion of restoration. Nevertheless, with the Nice Melancholy and the inventory market crash the 12 months following Frost’s dying, the work had been nearly forgotten.
This article offers a brief historical past of what occurred within the years following the dying of Frank Frost in 1947. It particulars how the work of J.O.J. Frost had been “re-discovered” and introduced again into the artwork world for all to take pleasure in.
AN EXHIBIT, HIDDEN ART, AND A LEGAL BATTLE
In 1938, there was a small exhibition of the work on the Lee Mansion, and the Marblehead Arts Affiliation held one other gallery show in 1940. Given the curiosity generated by these showings, the MHS put some work, together with a number of of Frost’s, within the everlasting exhibit on the Lee Mansion’s third flooring. Not a lot occurred with the gathering till the mid-Forties when Betty and Alfred Carpenter of Boston noticed the work on a go to to Marblehead.
The couple beloved the works and finally bought some work from Frank Frost. When Frank died, he instructed his heirs to promote the remainder of the work to the Carpenters. Later, Frederick Mason and his spouse Mary bought the Frost residence and, whereas renovating, discovered a number of extra of J.O.J Frost’s primitive work nailed dealing with into the studs of the partitions. They contracted with a Boston artwork seller, Charles Childs, of the Childs Gallery, to exhibit and promote a number of works.
The Carpenters sued for possession of the work, alleging that Frank meant to promote the entire photos to them. They misplaced the courtroom case, with the ruling that because the art work was constructed into the partitions of the house, it constituted a considerable a part of the actual property.
THE LEGACY LIVES ON
Whereas artwork fans can discover Frost’s work in The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Fenimore Art Museum, and a number of other personal collections, essentially the most complete assortment is in his birthplace, lower than half a mile from his residence. The Marblehead Museum has a everlasting gallery house devoted to the artist and shows his works there. The museum is positioned immediately throughout the road from the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, the place the Marblehead Historic Society initially confirmed them. Marblehead is twelve miles north of Boston and simply two miles from Salem, Massachusetts, a well-known historic spot, particularly throughout October. A Marblehead mom and daughter book containing photographs of Frost’s work and tales of the fishing commerce can also be obtainable on the Marblehead Museum.
City residents laughed at Frost, who had no recorded gross sales of his work whereas he was alive. Whereas Frost was grieving after shedding his spouse—and making an attempt to remain busy documenting the fishing trade—no person purchased his works, even at twenty-five and fifty cents per portray. The picture of the artist pushing his artwork round city in a wheelbarrow will need to have been a tragic sight, however hopefully, he’s someplace getting the final snort. Certainly one of his works sold recently at public sale for greater than $12,000.
Personal collections and museums now home Frost’s folks artwork, lastly acknowledged as high quality work, so an unique portray can be nearly unattainable to seek out within the wild or tucked away in an attic. Right this moment’s residents of Marblehead are way more appreciative of his artwork, and happily, it’s been preserved for future generations to admire.
Brenda Kelley Kim lives within the Boston space. She is the writer of Sink or Swim: Tales From the Deep End of Everywhere and writes a weekly syndicated column for The Marblehead Weekly Information/Essex Media Group. When not writing or strolling her snorty pug, Penny, she enjoys yard gross sales, flea markets, and badminton.
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