Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Modern Americana: My Way

I'm a big fan of Americana and folk art, but it's a delicate balance. Go too far with Americana and your place ends up looking like that quaint country store you love to visit but whose apple pie candles give you a headache after thirty minutes. I've seen my share of overly country'd home decor, and while it works for some folks, it's definitely not my style. But a juxtaposition of folksy with modern... that I adore.

Take this piece, for example... how much fun is this?

I've been lusting after it for ages. It's from the Sundance catalog, so brace yourself for the price: a cool $3,895. (They also sell a colossal version for $25,000, which I've gotta admit, would look fantastic against the side of a barn next to my hypothetical rambling farmhouse.) Similarly, I stalked the original of this print on Etsy until it sold and have been kicking myself ever since. Pottery Barn had something similar last year, and while it was fine, it was Pottery Barn, thus taking the coolness out of any art piece (although I'm not going to lie... I'd snap this woodwork piece up in a heartbeat).

Political folk art is my favorite little corner of the folk art world, and an easy way to modernize a style that's old with a new twist. Our home has a great mix of political art (some modern, some folksy) set against fairly modern furniture, and I really like that contradiction. Political pieces work really well for who we are and what we care about, and is great fun to build as a collection.

The absolute best way to find these pieces is to stumble upon them or connect with an artist. That's how Trevor bought a fun piece we have that references Jessie Ventura and Granny D, marking a particular time in American politics:

...and it's how we decided we had to have the original sketches of a campaign-related print that ran with a New York Times op-ed on election rhetoric, to mark another distinct moment in American politics:

(It's also why it should come as no surprise that I've been coveting this piece for ages.)

The best place I've ever been for stumbling upon brilliant political folk art is Ed Larson's little gem of a studio on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Here's the entrance:

And inside, you'll find brilliance like this Katrina-themed piece (you can't see it here, but the stick figure is labeled "Brownie"):

I last visited Ed's studio as a poor just-out-of-graduate-school shopper, so I wasn't in the market for any original pieces. Instead, I picked up this limited edition lithograph, marking, you got it... a distinct period in American politics:

Coming full circle, take a look at my mouse pad, which I nerdily adore. It combines my love of license plate art and the Constitution all at once... brilliant!

You remember how much we love the Constitution, don't you?

While we're at it, get a load of Senator Al Franken drawing a perfect map of the United States from scratch... in two minutes flat. The man is a genius.


  1. That video is absolutely ridiculous!!! In 9th grade World Geography, my school required students to draw and label all every country from memory on a huge foam board. I remember people AGONIZING over those damn foam boards. I took it by correspondence and still can't tell you where decently major countries are. Oops.

  2. Dolan Gieman has some great stuff that I've been eyeing since I saw them at an art fair here in March.

  3. I love folk art- I think you would love one of my new faves John Anderson:

    Also, my local letterpress fave, Yee Haw industries also has political art that is fun.

  4. Thanks for the recommendations, guys - will check out all of them! And Samma - Yee Haw Industries is one of my FAVORITES.

  5. As soon as I read the first paragraph I was going to tell you about the Constitution license plate print. It is seriously brilliant!


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