Yard Show – Robert Howell

Yard Show – Robert Howell

1934 — 2004
Midlothian, Powhatan County, VA
Whirligig environment

“After you buy it, you can call it whatever you want.”

Robert Howell has fashioned a unique personal environment based on whirligigs of all shapes and sizes.  He builds them and, as the time and weather destroys them, rebuilds them—stuffed figures on horseback, rocket ships, airplanes, and animal-shaped creatures—all of which move with the wind.  To Howell, his creations look real.  “I just like making them. ” he explains.  “I’m working all the time to get stuff in my head [new ideas].”

Howell lives in a former roadside country grocery store that was built by one of his brothers; he has surrounded his home with his win-driven creations.  “People come by just to look, ” he says, “and that’s ok.  but if they bother my stuff, I’ll go after them with this here shotgun.”

Robert passed away in 2004, and his home/environment was torn down. You can see some of his work at the Abby Aldridge Museum in Williamsburg, VA

(Photos © copyright 2006-2013 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)

Bibliography & Links:

“Detour Art—Outsider, Folk Art, and Visionary Folk Art Environments Coast to Coast, Art and Photographs from the Collection of Kelly Ludwig” by Kelly Ludwig, Kansas City Star Books, 2007.

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Eastern Weaseling”, KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 2002.

“American Self-Taught Art: An Illustrated Analysis of 20th Century Artists and Trends with 1,319 Capsule Biographies” by Florence Laffal and Julius Laffal, 2003.

“Contemporary American Folk Art  – A Collector’s Guide”  Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Abbeville Press, 1996.

“Flying Free: Twentieth-Century Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Ellin and Baron Gordon” by Ellin Gordon, Barbara L. Luck and Tom Patterson, exhibit catalog for The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, 1997.

“Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Environments” by Roger Manley and Mark Sloan, Aperture, New York, 1997.

“Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art—A guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources” by Betty-Carol Sellen with Cynthia J. Johnson, McFarland & Company, 2000.

“Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art of the South”, Vol 2, Arnett, et al, 2001.