Picture : Untitled by Bill Traylor, circa 1940.
Over the past two decades, the number of art and antiques enthusiasts has increased exponentially. Today, millions of Americans create or collect folk art. Writers have been quick to capitalize on this phenomenon, turning out hundreds of books designed to educate the enthusiast. Up to now, however, these texts have been directed solely to the adult market. No one has thought to provide basic information for children and young adults, despite the fact that they represent the next generation.
Richard Panchyks American Folk Art for Kids represents an important first step in the education of these youthful art and antiques lovers, and the field he has chosen is a particularly suitable one. Folk art is readily understood by all. Children who are naturally drawn to painting and sculpture have an affinity for folk expression. After all, it relates directly to life. The child, with enthusiasm and an open mind, can readily accept and appreciate a carved wooden doll or a toy house constructed of Popsicle sticks. Apparent crudeness in construction and failure to follow the accepted canons of academic art, which might turn off a sophisticated adult, will be seen by the youthful enthusiast as signs of playfulness and artistic vigor. In fact, folk art, which springs from the most innate needs and nature of humankind, is the perfect field through which to introduce youth to the world of art and antiques.
Panchyk, moreover, has combined sound introductions to a variety of folk art fields with interesting hands-on projects that allow the reader to experience and explore the same creative feelings that animate the folk artist. This approach draws the child into the crafter s world and supplements the text, making it more readily understandable. In combination, text and projects provide an innovative introduction to folk art that seems guaranteed to produce a new generation of enthusiastic folk art and antique lovers.