1937: As an experiment, art teacher Helen Beach approached random people on the streets of Chicago and offered them a free 12-week art course. Among the 75 volunteers who accepted her offer were train guards, an iceman, a school teacher, postmen, a scrubwoman, and policemen. Later that year she exhibited some of the works her students created, offering them as proof that anyone, with a little training, can release their inner artist. Examples below.
Of course, there has to be some selection bias here — weeding out those whose lack of talent was beyond help.
"Flannel Night Gown" by Edna Hirt, housewife
"Sunday Night Supper" by Edith Willett, Sunday-school teacher
"Indian Summer" by John Golden, dogcatcher
"Abstract of Sewing Machine" by Maude Hopkins, (no career specified)
October 1938: 82-year-old Mihailo Tolotos died. He had lived his entire life in Greece's Mt. Athos monastery, which women were (are) not allowed to enter, and he was therefore believed to have been the only man in the world never to have seen a woman — or rather, the only man never to have been in the presence of a woman (except his mother, who died giving birth to him), because as the folks over at The Straight Dope point out, anyone who is born blind will have never seen a woman.
The Edinburg Daily Courier - Oct 29, 1938
In 1949, the Nixon Furniture Company featured the story of Mihailo Tolotos in one of their ads. They were worried that just as Tolotos had never seen a woman, perhaps the readers of the Raleigh Register hadn't seen all of Nixon's new furniture.
Following up on Paul's post yesterday about the Electric Pencil. Here's some art created by patients in the criminally insane ward of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Washington D.C., mid-1930s.
A "working model of the fourth dimension," examined by Dr. John E. Lind.
A lion (top) and a man on a horse (bottom), created by a "shellshocked, cop-killing veteran" out of chewed toilet paper, hair from clothes and blankets, and cellophane. "Jealous of his accomplishments, the veteran guards his work as assiduously as a setting hen; it must be taken from him while he is asleep."
A locomotive (top) and "something that looks like a caricature of a capitalist" (bottom) drawn by "a mental 10-year-old."
Source: Newsweek - Jan 9, 1937
Also see the earlier post, Art of the Insane, to compare artwork from patients at St. Anne Hospital in France, mid-1940s.
Train Delayed by Elephant's Antics
McCOOK, Neb., Jan. 23 — A Burlington Road passenger train was four hours late getting into Denver because an elephant kept the engineer and conductor guessing.
The engineer, officials of the road said, kept stopping the train, and the conductor repeatedly signaled for him to proceed, each wondering about the frequent stops.
Investigation disclosed an elephant in the baggage car was pulling the airbrake rope with his trunk.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.