Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Nellie Mae Rowe's Lush Life

Back when I used to man the information desk at the High or find my self stationed in the galleries, I seemed to repeat the same lines over and over: "The cafe is on the lower level, the bathrooms are down the hall, Nellie Mae Rowe's work is to your left."

Joyous, radiant and approachable, Rowe's drawings appeal to many -- including those who normally don't appreciate self-taught art. The daughter of a former slave, Rowe was born in Fayetteville, Georgia in 1900. High curator Susan Mitchell Crawley writes that Rowe used art to escape the tedium of her chores and throughout her life passionately created pieces from whatever materials were at hand.

The examples shown here happen to be from Barbara Archer Gallery and the Ogden Museum (see complete credits below), but the High has well over 100 of Rowe's works, a fairly recent bequest by art patron Judith Alexander. In fact, the High is the only major museum in North America with a curatorial department specifically devoted to folk and self-taught art.

There is something about Rowe's dense patterns and electrifying color combinations that could really inspire textile designers.

Clearly the natural beauty of the South inspired Rowe. Here, a few flashbacks to favorite flower-filled images. Above, Vesta Fort's vignette photographed by Paul Costello for domino, May 2006, and below a hydrangea garland by Dorothy McDaniel, photography courtesy Southern Accents.

Art credits from the top:
Nellie Mae Rowe
Untitled, 1982
18" x 24"
crayon on paper
Barbara Archer Gallery

Picking Berries, 1981
16 1/2" x 14"
marker and crapas on paper
Barbara Archer Gallery

Mixed media on paper
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Anonymous Donation (Gift of Judith Alexander and Barbara Archer Gallery)

Couldn't resist this pairing. Dress is Trina Turk.


Anna Spiro said...

Wowo - these paintings are SO beautiful and colourful!

Style Court said...

Anna -- they remind me of you :)


Karena said...

Very whimsical and full of vibrance!

Anonymous said...

does anyone know who makes the shell vase? All of my Dominos are in storage right now, thanks!

Renae Moore said...

love love love the hydrangeas!

Style Court said...

hi stacy -- i'll look it up tomorrow :)

renae -- they are so pretty!

Style Court said...

karen -- yes, definitely vibrant!

custardbydesign said...

i stumbled upon your blogg today and was very impressed with what i was reading...I'm currently living in Dublin, with plans to head to the states...potentially Arkansas! Great to see some southern influences and styles on your site....I hope you take the time to check out my thoughts and ponderings on my own blog...Richy

Style Court said...

Thank you Custard. I hope you enjoy living here!

balsamfir said...

Before I started reading blogs this morning, I spent a while looking at Neue Galleries new show on the Brucke school, and last week thinking about Peak of Chics discussion of color. Your post fits right in, and I love these paintings. A new name for this Yankee.

Ivy Lane said...

Beautiful paintings! I have some buds on my hydrangeas ... hopefully we won't get a late frost this year! They're gonna be gorgeous if they bloom!

Have a Great Weekend!

Style Court said...

Stacy -- i think the vase came from

Pied Nu

Style Court said...

Ivy -- Happy weekend to you!

Style Court said...

Balsamfir -- thanks, i'll have to check that out.

Anonymous said...

Courtney, thanks somuch for finding the vase!!

Style Court said...

Stacy -- I hope they can locate it for you, it's been several years, but that's the source domino listed. you might try jayson home and garden too.

Mélanie said...

the hydrangeas garland is stunning...