Canadian Folk Art Outdoors

The Porch

For outdoor folk art that requires protection from the elements, the porch is a perfect location. Given its view directly onto the street, as well as its height above the ground, the front porch acts as a stage, emphasizing the performance aspect noted in relation to front lawn folk art.

Some porch pieces have even been designed to wave at pedestrians and passing cars. They are controlled by a clever arrangement of strings and pulleys, manipulated by the chuckling artist who remains indoors.

Seated Woman - Photo: H. Foster Seated Woman
Maker unknown
20th century
CCFCS 78-190

This dignified lady with the wonderful hat represents a well-established folk art genre of seated porch figures. She is so nicely decorated, it seems appropriate that she remain shielded from the elements.

One of the most amusing porch figures was a life-size black woman from Quebec, dressed in a navy sweatshirt and a large, floppy straw hat. Her creator rigged her right arm with a series of concealed pulleys so that he could make her wave at passers-by, while he remained hidden in the living room. One can only imagine the astonished double takes of passing drivers.

This doughty lady, although hardly a waver, doubtless drew the respect and admiration of those passing, representing, as she clearly does, a generation now almost forgotten.

Mailbox Cowboy
Ross W. Gould
Duntroon, Ontario
CCFCS 77-438
Mailbox Cowboy - Photo: H. Foster

Embellishing useful objects is common practice in folk art. Mr. Gould's own mailbox is one of a number of decorated rural mailboxes. The casual cigarette, the lasso and revolver give this figure an air of insouciance, and the cowboy's bow legs complete the delightfully comical overall effect.

Orange Cock - Photo: H. Foster Orange Cock
Antonio Matteo
Montreal, Quebec
CCFCS 94-814

This exuberant rooster came from the hands of a brilliant Italian model-maker and carver. This creature's bright colours would make him stand out whether either inside or outdoors.

Two Figures on Recycled Steering Wheels
Ellison Eagles
North River, Nova Scotia
Ca. 1970
CCFCS 79-1545
Figures on Recycled Steering Wheels - Photo: H. Foster

In this not-exactly-a-whirligig but not-exactly-a-carving either, the cracked and recycled steering wheels give the two slightly vague figures the sensation of speed if not the reality. Their wonderful deadpan expressions complete the piece.


This Other Eden
Canadian Folk Art Outdoors


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