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Saddle Up: The Western World of Harry Teague

May 15 through September 2, 2012

 

Throughout life, many people experience devastating circumstances that could cripple them forever. When Harry Teague had multiple strokes and then a heart attack in the early 1990s, he could have given up. That was not the case for Teague, however, who instead awakened his inner soul and began to put his emotion on canvas through vibrant paintings. An exhibition of his work, Saddle Up: The Western World of Harry Teague, will be on display at Booth Western Art Museum from May 15 through September 2, 2012 in Borderlands Gallery. (right: Harry Teague, Follow Me, 2005, Liquitex on Mat Board)

"Though he never showed interest in art before, Harry Teague developed a unique talent which helped him cope with his inability to read or articulate after his strokes," said Booth Museum Executive Director Seth Hopkins. "It is impossible for us to know exactly what occurred in his mind after the traumatizing events he experienced, but he undoubtedly awoke a part of him that was not known before. His work, which is considered folk art, became an outlet for him and speaks to people of all walks of life. I believe visitors both young and old to Booth Museum will find something that appeal to them in the exhibit."

Like all of Teague's paintings, Saddle Up: The Western World of Harry Teague features paintings of whimsical characters and a variety of color juxtapositions. With a very unique and distinguishable style, one may believe that Teague must have been artistic his entire life. On the contrary, he was a successful salesman for most of his career having also owned two restaurants, a gift shop and a smokehouse in Gatlinburg, TN, with his wife Diannia. He was in the midst of developing a subdivision outside of Gatlinburg when a series of strokes and a heart attack changed his life forever.

It was through the encouragement of Diannia that Teague began to paint as an outlet to express himself. In 10 years, he painted more than 1,300 paintings. His work has been recognized throughout the Southeast and as far away as New York, Colorado and Oklahoma. Additionally, Teague's art received the Distinguished Merit of Best of Show six times from Georgia Artists Disabilities, Inc.

The public is invited to Art for Lunch on Wednesday, June 6, when Teague's widow Diannia describes Harry's life and the medical journey that led him to paint as part of his therapy. Dr. Diana Gregory, a Kennesaw State University associate professor and art therapist, will discuss brain trauma and how art therapy can help the individual express themselves visually. Art for Lunch begins at 12:15 pm in the Booth Ballroom and is free for Booth members and included with regular admission for not-yet members.

 

(abovr: Harry Teague, Love on the Range, 2005, Liquitex on Mat Board)

 

Wall text from the exhibition

In the 1990s, Harry Teague, a salesman and developer in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, suffered a series of strokes and a heart attack. The trauma that left him unable to read and caused difficulty in articulating speech somehow awakened Harry's inner soul leading him to express himself through painting. Remarkably, he had never shown an interest in art before. He soon became a prolific self-taught artist with boundless enthusiasm.
 
Harry painted over a thousand paintings in a period of ten years. The paintings had similar styles that included repeated motifs of simple figures with exaggerated features. Although many of his subjects are discernable, others required Harry's interpretation or come from his imagination. His work has often been described as folk art, but is also consistent with an artistic movement called "Outsider Art." In either case, Harry's work is difficult to categorize and his visionary work is uniquely individual.
 
This exhibition shows examples of his Western motifs which represent art from the "frontier" within. It is only one exhibition of several where Harry's work has been featured or organized posthumously as "one-man shows." His works have appeared in places ranging from Soho in New York to Oklahoma, Radford University in Virginia, and locally in Decatur and Athens, Georgia. His work has also served as the illustrations for two children's books*. While Harry's longings and memories continue to find universal relevance to those who view his art, the hope, joy and vibrancy in his art make Harry's work therapeutic to its viewers.

 

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