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Maus  Contemporary

 

 

portrait of Alabama artist Betty Sue Matthews by @Kelly Ludwig, 2008. Used with permission, all rights reserved.portrait of Alabama artist Betty Sue Matthews by @Kelly Ludwig, 2008. Used with permission, all rights reserved.

BETTY SUE MATTHEWS

MAY 17 - AUGUST 9, 2024

OPENING RECEPTION FRIDAY, MAY 17 (6-8PM)

 

Betty Sue Matthews (1944-2018) was a self-taught artist working in unconventional materials, primarily painting on metal sheets, mostly cut-out in the shape of people, animals, or objects such as the school bus shown in this photographic portrait of the artist by Kelly Ludwig. These cut-outs are often painted on both sides.

The Alabama-native artist's work has been exhibited in the Smithsonian and the Rosa Parks Museum.

 

 

Half of the proceeds from this exhibition of Betty Sue Matthews' work benefit the nonprofit Eastern Shore Art Center, ESAC, and the "Art for Everyone" program at the downtown Birmingham Public Library.

 

The Eastern Shore Art Center  ESAC

Located in the Bayfront community of Fairhope, Alabama, the Eastern Shore Art Center (ESAC) has been the keystone arts and cultural center for several communities on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay since its founding in 1952. ESAC’s mission is to connect people of all ages and abilities with art through education, exhibitions and outreach activities.

 

The Birmingham Public Library's Art For Everyone Program

The mission of the Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality experience to our community for lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. The Art For Everyone program features rotating two-month exhibitions in three distinct gallery spaces at the central library downtown. Organized by independent curator Paul Barrett, the nineteen exhibitions in 2024 highlight the talents of artists working in a variety of themes and media from Alabama and beyond.

 

 

 

Betty Sue Matthews "Father and Daughter"Betty Sue Matthews "Father and Daughter"Betty Sue Matthews reflected the world she saw around her, drawing images from memory in the dirt with a stick at an early age. Sculptor and fellow Brundidge, Alabama native, Larry Godwin, met Matthews in the 1980s and eagerly introduced others to her work. In 1991, lobbyist and art collector Ron Drinkard introduced Matthews to the artist Fred Nall Hollis while Nall was artist in residence at nearby Troy University. Nall was immediately charmed and began to bring her cardboard and paint, and later art papers and tin to create her art. At that time she sold her paintings in an impromptu gallery in front of her home for two dollars each, gradually raising her prices each week as she received new art materials and her confidence grew. She created her earliest paintings with old house paint, dirt, and grass stains on flattened cardboard boxes in a manner reminiscent of Jimmy Lee Sudduth, although it is unlikely that she met him before she began exhibiting at the Kentuck Festival in the 1990s. Nall championed her work, organizing solo exhibitions in Dothan, Montgomery, and Troy. In 2000 he featured her work among thirteen Alabama artists including William Christenberry, Chip Cooper, Frank Fleming, Charlie Lucas, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, Yvonne Wells, and Kathryn Tucker Windham, alongside his portraits of Matthews and the other artists. The exhibition debuted at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts and traveled to Vence, France and many additional venues in the United States.



Betty Sue Matthews "Four Girls"Betty Sue Matthews "Four Girls"

Betty Sue Matthews

Four Girls

not dated, ca. late 1990s

enamel on tin cut-outs

dims variable

as installed approx. 55 by 90 in. (ca. 140 by 228 cm)

 

 

 

Matthews was born in the small town of Brundidge, southwest of Troy, Alabama, in 1944, and lived there most of her life. She later moved to Tuscaloosa, where she died in 2018. She created paintings of people she knew and animals she saw on flattened cardboard boxes, discarded furniture, and tin siding which she cut with an ax and shaped with clippers. She frequently painted on both sides to illustrate the front and back of the same individual. As an esteemed guest artist at the Kentuck Festival in Northport, Alabama, Matthews sold her artworks alongside luminaries including the Rev. Howard Finster, Della Wells, and Purvis Young for many years. Even within the vernacular tradition of painted tin cutouts created by artists such as Thornton Dial, Sam Doyle, R. A. Miller, Missionary Mary Proctor, and others, Matthews' work stands out for her preference for creating likenesses of everyday people she knew rather than archetypes or cultural/historical figures. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at many museums and can be found in the collections of the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope, the International Arts Center at Troy University, the Mobile Museum of Art, the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan, and numerous private collections.

Betty Sue Matthews "The Couple"Betty Sue Matthews "The Couple"

Betty Sue Matthews

The Couple

not dated, ca. late 1990s

enamel on tin cut-outs

dims variable

as installed approx. 80 by 32 in. (ca. 203 by 81 cm)

 

 

 

 

 

Betty Sue Matthews "Father and Daughter"Betty Sue Matthews "Father and Daughter"

Betty Sue Matthews

Father and Daughter

not dated, ca. late 1990s

enamel on tin cut-out

approx. 80 by 22 in. (ca. 203 by 56 cm)

 

 

 

Half of the proceeds from this exhibition of Betty Sue Matthews' work benefit the nonprofit Eastern Shore Art Center, ESAC, and the Art for Everyone Program at the downtown Birmingham Public Library.

 

The Eastern Shore Art Center  ESAC

 

Located in the Bayfront community of Fairhope, Alabama, the Eastern Shore Art Center (ESAC) has been the keystone arts and cultural center for several communities on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay since its founding in 1952. ESAC’s mission is to connect people of all ages and abilities with art through education, exhibitions and outreach activities.

 

The Birmingham Public Library's Art For Everyone Program


The mission of the Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality experience to our community for lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. The Art For Everyone program features rotating two-month exhibitions in three distinct gallery spaces at the central library downtown. Organized by independent curator Paul Barrett, the nineteen exhibitions in 2024 highlight the talents of artists working in a variety of themes and media from Alabama and beyond.