Jesse Howard & Roger Brown: Now Read On Checklist

08/06/2005 - 09/17/2005

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Jesse Howard (1885 – 1983), a self-taught artist and local philosopher, lived on the outskirts of Fulton, Missouri from 1944 to 1983, where he created an extensive artistic environment of signs and sculptural objects throughout his rural property. Inspired by an incident with vandals in the 1940’s, Howard published his thoughts and opinions on everything from lawyers and judges, to free speech, Fulton, and the state of the world. In 1953 he began making signs and objects, narrrating ideas and perceptions based on his experiences, reflections, and focused reading of the Bible. Quoting the Bible with great frequency, Howard’s signs tell a story of a man who is old and often alone, yet willing to confront the realities of his life and of life in general. Characteristically, one of his signs reads: 75 years of hard labor is a might long time, and 50 years of disappointment is a long long time.His narratives were incorporated into various constructions and assemblages made from materials at hand, including cast-off agricultural equipment, colored glass marbles, metal, leather shoe soles, and window shades, as well as wood planks of all types. A folk celebrity of sorts, Jesse Howard has been written about in magazine and newspapers across the country. His work was first introduced to a broad art audience in Art in America (Gregg Blasdel, “Grassroots Art in America”, September/October 1968). In 1974 Howard was included in the seminal exhibition “Naives and Visionaries” at the Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN. This exhibit was the first to showcase the genre of environments created by artists outside of the mainstream. His works have been widely collected by artists and collectors, notably Roger Brown, who credited Howard as a major influence on his own work, and have been exhibited at the Kansas City Art Institute, Intuit: the Center for Intuitve and Outsider Art (Chicago). Howard died in 1983.

Roger Brown (1941-1997) was raised in Opelika, Alabama. After briefly studying to be a preacher in Nashville, Brown moved to Chicago in 1962 where he took classes at the American Academy of Art before enrolling at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he later earned his BFA in 1968 and MFA in 1970. During this time, Brown was engaged in an art making movement in Chicago later defined as Chicago Imagism. The Imagists were known not only for energetic originality of their works, but for the relationship bewteen their own art practice and the objects they collected and lived with. During his prolific but tragically abbreviated career, Brown was recognized internationally for his significant artistic contributions. Best known as a painter, he also made prints and sculpture, designed sets for theatre and opera, and murals for architectural settings. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibition both in the United States and abroad. Major retrospectives include the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts 1980, and The Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 1987. In 2004, “Roger Brown: A Different Dimension”, an exhibition of Brown’s sculpture and three-dimensional paintings was organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Brown’s rich artistic career was intensely original and personal, and exemplified a significant aspect of Chicago’s art history, which has had an impact on culture in Chicago and beyond. Brown’s major gifts of homes (3), collections, and archival materials to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago are preserved through the Roger Brown Study Collection. Brown died in 1997.

A Crooked Generation/Government Smokescreen

NRO.001
Roger Brown
Government Smokescreen, 1990
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Estate Painting Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.002
Jesse Howard
Untitled (A Crooked Generation…), 1973
paint on wood and rubber tire assemblage

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.003
Jesse Howard
Untitled (The Court House Gang. Yes…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.004
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Fulton, MO. March 19, 1973. The Court House…), 1973
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.005
Jesse Howard
Untitled (What is Going on Behind the Iron Curtain…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.006
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Fulton, MO. March 26, 1973…), 1973
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.007
Jesse Howard
Untitled (June 14 1961 Judge Poelker…), 1961
paint on metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.008
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Yes Sere’ Some Thief…), c.1960
paint on metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.009
Jesse Howard
Untitled (If You Want to See a Gang of Hoodlum Police…), 1961
paint on metal drum lid

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.010
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Sheriff W.A. Bill Dawson…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.011
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Boycott to Combine…)(Who Said…), c.1960
paint on metal with wood frame (double sided)

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

Disappointments

NRO.012

Roger Brown
Down Down Down, 1986
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Estate Painting Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.013
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Father Against Son and Son Against…)
paint on hinged irregular wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.014
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Fulton, MO. May 7, 1973…), 1973
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.015
Jesse Howard
Untitled (75 Years of Hard Labor…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.016
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Dog and Cat Grave Yard…), 1964
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.017
Jesse Howard
Untitled (What is a Man to Do?…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.018
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Mine Disasters Is Awful Bad…), 1963
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.019
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Yes I Have a Pure White Kitty…), 1953
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.020
Jesse Howard
Untitled (I Might Be a Tough Old Guy…), c.1960
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.021
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Outlaw Howard…)
paint on metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.069
Howard
Untitled (Woe Unto You Taxicab Drivers), c.1960
paint on metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

Do You Read…

NRO.022

Roger Brown
Can’t Never Could / The Courage To Face The Trials And Bring A Whole New Body Of Possibilities Into The Field of Interpreted Experience – That Is the Artists) Sees. Joseph Campbell, 1991
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Estate Painting Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.023
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Fulton, MO. February First, 1974…), 1974
painted wooden rectangle

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.024

Jesse Howard
Untitled (000.000 Nothing…)
paint on metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.025
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Do You Read Ann Landers Columns…)
paint on wooden windmill blade
Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute
NRO.026
Jesse Howard
Untitled (If I Make My Bed In Hell…)
painted wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.027
Jesse Howard
untitled (Shame, Yes”, Shame…)
paint on wood

Courtesy of The Roger Brown Study Collection, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

NRO.028
Jesse Howard
untitled (Woman 104 Years Old Says…)
paint on wood

Courtesy of The Roger Brown Study Collection, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

In God We Trust

NRO.029
Roger Brown
Arrangement in Blue and Gray, The Artist and his Friend Fishing, 1985
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Permanent Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.030
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Some People Say There Is No God…)
paint on metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.031
Jesse Howard
Untitled (The Voice of the Bird…), c.1960
paint on corn planter sign

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.032
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Quote. Behold How Good…), c.1960
paint on masonite

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.033
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Man in the Glass…), 1955
painted mirror and wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.034
Jesse Howard
Untitled (A Friend in Need is a Friend in Deed…)
paint on wood with hinges

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.035
Jesse Howard
Untitled (God Bless the Owl…), 1956
wood, metal, paint, shoe insert

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.036
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Quote. Cast Me Not Off…)
paint on wood (double-sided)

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

In the Beginning

NRO.037
Roger Brown
The Story of Creation, 1989
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Estate Painting Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.038
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Jericho, the City of Palm Trees…)
paint on masonite

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.039
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Job’s Grave Quote…), c.1950
painted assembled wood and metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.040
Jesse Howard
Untitled (This is the Pillar that Jacob Setup…), 1953
paint on wood with three panel construction
Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.041
Jesse Howard
Untitled (They Might Dismember This Old Man…), c.1949
paint on assembled wood with hinges

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.042
Jesse Howard
Untitled (The Patience of Job…)
mixed media and found objects
Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute
NRO.043
Jesse Howard
Untitled (In the Beginning…)
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.044
Jesse Howard
Untitled (The Firt Book of Moses…)
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

Our Family Record

NRO.045
Roger Brown
Coming to America, 1990

Roger Brown Permanent Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.046
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Our Family Record…), c.1952
paint on wooden headboard with hinges

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.047
Jesse Howard
Untitled (This is the History of My Life…), c.1959
paint on wood with hinges

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

Saith the Lord

NRO.048
Roger Brown
Beast Rising From the Sea, 1983
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Permanent Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.049
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Quote. And If a Kingdom Be…), c.1970
paint on wood and metal
Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.050
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Vengeance is Mine…), c.1950
paint on metal

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.051
Jesse Howard
Untitled (The Lord Saith Vengeance is Mine…), 1960
paint on metal drum lid

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.052
Jesse Howard
Untitled (They Shall Justle One Against Another…), c.1960
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

They Have It Coming

NRO.053
Roger Brown
The Writing in the Sky, 1985
oil on canvas
Roger Brown Estate Painting Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.054
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Hugh P. Williamson Assistant…)
paint on masonite

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.055
Jesse Howard
Untitled (“Sorehead” Hill, ‘Sneak’ Thief…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.056
Jesse Howard
Untitled (John F. Kennedy…), c.1960
paint on wood assemblage

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.057
Jesse Howard
Untitled (There Hasn’t Been Only One Thing…), c.1960
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.058
Jesse Howard
Untitled (I Can Tell You What Will Be Going On On Capitol Hill…), c.1960
paint on metal drum lid

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.059
Jesse Howard
Untitled (A Man Stopped and Was…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.060
Jesse Howard
untitled (I Know Some People…)
paint on wood

Courtesy of The Roger Brown Study Collection, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

UnAmerican…

NRO.061
Roger Brown
The UnAmerican House Activities Committee, 1991
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Estate Painting Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.062
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Mr. President, Mr. Lyndon…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.063
Jesse Howard
Untitled (If You Don’t Know What It Is Like…), c.1970
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.064
Jesse Howard
Untitled (The Brain-Washed Communist…), c.1960
paint on wood

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.065
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Who? And Where Is? The Communist Thief…), c.1970
eyehooks on top edge

Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute

NRO.066
Jesse Howard
untitled (Did You Know, That You “Yes, You…)
paint on wood

Courtesy of The Roger Brown Study Collection, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Wanted Peacemakers

NRO.067
Roger Brown
The War We Won, 1991
oil on canvas

Roger Brown Estate Painting Collection. Courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

NRO.068
Jesse Howard
Untitled (Wanted Peacemakers…)
paint on wood
Courtesy of the Kansas City Art Institute