One thing in which the ag industry does not lack is an abundance of creativity. We've all seen some pretty ingenious things come from a farmer's shop - engineering custom irrigation systems or building a filter house from the ground up with no written plans.
That kind of imagination also flows from the brains and fingertips of talented painters and visual artists in the farm environment as well.
It's always been there, from the primitive art of the untrained to the fine art of those that have studied color and application. Some folks just have an amazing talent for putting something down on canvas or paper.
Floyd Gordon is usually at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show. His style is colorful and bold. The art he has at the gin show usually portrays a simpler time in very rural settings – porches, cotton sacks, field workers – in a primitive, graphic style.
In a good number of cotton gins, you'll likely find a Jack Deloney print or two. Deloney's depiction of old gin operations and mules hauling cotton trailers connect with the ginning community. His paintings are realistic and finely detailed in their depiction of rural farm life.
Carl Clapp of Casa Grande, Ariz., has a big following in the cotton community. He focuses on the fine detail of the cotton blossom, blown up to the size of a picture window. The veins of the buds and the color of the petals pop like you've never seen a cotton blossom before. He knows the plant intimately as a cotton grower.
One of my favorites is Nelda Harris of La Mesa, Texas. She paints fresh, lively watercolors of cotton and flowers. I envy those that have one of her works. Her influence is her environment and as a cotton ginner's wife.
Norwood Creech has lived in northeast Arkansas and in her impressionistic paintings, you can see that she knows the lines of the levees and lay of the land. She comes from a line of female painters. A friend once said to me, "You'll see her on a levee and if she's in the moment she won't stop for anything."
The south is rich with artistry and I have found good rural scenes in book shops, antique shops and galleries in almost every place I've gone looking, many with no artist names. I've got too little wall space for everything I like.
I can't say who my favorite artist is because each has their own special touch. I do know that I love the art of rural farmland. Whether it's the slightly out of perspective, primitive painting of a crop duster in a farmer's office in Tunica or the pointillism of one in a pottery shop in Merigold. The ag community certainly does not lack culture or imagination.