Friday, December 9, 2011


My friends Jason and Greg at knew I was writing my second book, this time solely on twentieth-century self-taught Southern artist Helen LaFrance. She was featured in a chapter of my first book, the reference book Outsider Art of the South (published by Schiffer Books, by Kathy Moses). This new book, Helen LaFrance / Folk Art Memories is written with Bruce Shelton, who introduced me to the artist nearly 20 years ago, and has a Foreword by Lee Kogan of the American Folk Art Museum in New York. We expect it to be available after the new year and are taking pre-orders now. NB: Great holiday gift! Jason and Greg suggested I write about writing the book.

Just a little about HELEN  LAFRANCE, a self-taught black artist who was born in 1919 in Western Kentucky. Her specialty is memory paintings of the disappearing lifestyle of the rural South, although she has painted and interpreted religious themes and floral studies, usually in oil on canvas. She has painted since she was a small child, always following her mother's wisdom to "paint what you know." Not limited to two-dimensional media, she is an exceptional quilt maker, Biblical interpreter and wood carver, whose animal sculptures and articulated dolls with handmade textile clothing are delightful. But it is her paintings that most strongly suggest a common human experience. The synthesis of her personal history, folk tradition, artistic invention and expression is what makes her unique and thus important.

LaFrance's work is held in many important private collections and museums (and you'll see some of those in the book) throughout the United States and Europe.

Check out the article on and see what an amazing site THAT is. It is chock full of information, and you can learn so much about the value of antiques and collectibles.

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