Edlin Gallery is pleased to present Frank Calloway: Pageants from the Old South, the artist's first gallery exhibition. Frank Calloway was born poor, black and fatherless in Montgomery, Alabama approximately 95 years ago and has been committed since 1952 to the buildings and grounds of the Bryce Hospital and the Alabama Department of Mental Health in Tuscaloosa.
Calloway did farming and gardening work on the 200-acre campus of the hospital. When U.S. District Judge Frank Johnson revised work standards in 1972, replacing manual labor with arts and crafts, Calloway began to draw. Using mainly crayons and markers Calloway became so obsessed with his art that the staff began giving him 30-foot long rolls of butcher paper to allow him to continuously create.
His murals often consist of people in houses, buildings and buses, working men on their trucks, paddle wheel steamboats, locomotives and trains, and their crews. They burst with color: deep greens, highlighter yellows, navy blues and Pepto-Bismol pinks. Many are stained with tobacco juice. His images of houses with their smoke-billowing chimneys recall Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.
Calloway once explained, "I make a mark, and then add some others to it--the way you build a house." He was also rumored to have a talent for multiplying large sums in his head, and the numbers and drawings were parts of a whole, like an engineer's calculations in the margins of a rendering. Some of Calloway's drawings extend to over 60 feet in length.
Calloway is currently exhibiting in The Marriage of Art, Science and Philosophy at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.