Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mr. Folk Art

On my recent trip to New York City, I decided to stop by the American Folk Art Museum, which as you probably know had to vacate its 53rd building last year and return to its old location opposite Lincoln Center owing to financial difficulties. I must say it looks as good as ever in the space that I associated with the museum in the 1980s, and the exhibition, "Jubilation/Rumination," was a terrific exploration of the stellar permanent collection.

But the most nostalgic moment for me was happening upon an old acquaintance who, for me, represents the face of the folk art museum. His name is Ken, and he has been a guard at the museum for more than a quarter century. For most of that time, he has gone out of his way to greet me by name and chat with me when I happen to come by. And I must say, it was usually only once or twice a year. Ken knew who I was long before I knew his name.

I wish all museums had an ambassador as personable as Ken. People like him are such a valuable asset; they are a vital link between the public and the collection. And remember, he is a guard, not a docent. His enthusiasm for the subject is admirable, and, I'm sure for many, infectious. If there is a "Mr. Folk Art," I have no doubt that it is Ken the guard.


  1. What a great post honoring the folks behind the folk art museum. I had heard they closed, but not relocated. Good news all around.

  2. Thanks, Robin! Yes, you can find them at Columbus and 66th Street. Everyone should go see the current exhibit.

  3. How wonderful. I hope the museum values him for the ambassador that he is. It can make such a huge first impression on visitors, one that makes them want to return again and again.

  4. Hello there, my name is Bhavna, my website is
    I was really fascinated by your blog.I consider my creative inclination a wonderful gift to produce artwork and my inspiration is my inner self and world around me. There is an attempt to create a powerful emotional bond that reaches the heart and soul of the viewer.

    As an artist, I have explored variety of themes and ideas. The exploration clearly reflects the diversity and escapades of my journey of evolving experience and confidence in my work. Paintings as jubilation, emancipation express different emotions like hope, joy, calmness or motivation while abstract waterscape is just vibrant and full of life.

  5. Thanks, Bhavna. Your paintings are wonderful. Thanks for sharing them with my readers. Glad you like the blog. Folk art is all about the direct connection to the artist's experiences throughout life.

  6. I love Ken! I miss working with him!

  7. Paul,

    Great Blog, I look forward to following it. Anytime you are down on Martha's Vineyard again please stop in. I will be soon be spending more time in Western CT and look forward to driving over for a visit. Warm Regard,
    Anthony Holand,

  8. Thanks, Anthony. I will definitely stop by this summer when we are in town. All the best.


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