"Three Faces in a lush landscape"-1959
"She was just doing what the Lord told her to do. She was more interested in pleasing God than people."
~George Evans told Airlie historian Susan Taylor Block, in 2005.
A Few Facts about Minnie Evans:
~Minnie Evans (Jones) was the only child of Joseph Kelly, a farmer, and Ella Jones in Pender County, North Carolina.
~ Minnie Evans attended school through the sixth grade, dropping out in 1903 because of the family's economic hardship, finding a job as a "sounder" selling shellfish door to door.
~In 1908 she quit to marry Julius Evans. For eight years she was a full-time housewife. The couple had three sons.
~The Evans family lived on Jones's 2,200-acre (8.9 km2) hunting estate, "Pembroke Park," known today as the subdivision Landfall.
~Evans began drawing on Good Friday, 1935. She said "I had a dream, its voice spoke to me: ‘Why don't you draw or die?' ‘Is that it?,' I said, ‘My, My.'"
~That morning she completed a pair of small pen-and-ink drawings on paper; these works, dominated by a pattern of concentric circles and semicircles upon a background of lines, became greatly significant to her in her later life.
~Most of her earliest pieces were executed in wax crayons; she later turned to colored pencil and, in the early 1940s, oils.
~Earlier, when Evans's world was dominated by the greenery of Pembroke Park, her paintings were full of shades of green. But, after 1948, her work began to bloom in colors and in images of actual flowers, for Minnie Evans was then the Airlie gatekeeper - collecting admissions and selling her artwork on the side.
~In 1961, she had her first formal exhibition of drawings and oils at a gallery in Wilmington.
~In 1966, Evans' had her first New York exhibit and, in 1975 a major Minnie Evans exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art became the talk of the town.
~Evans died December 16, 1987, leaving more than 400 artworks to the St. Johns Museum of Art (now the Cameron Art Museum) in Wilmington.
~Evans' drawings were inspired by her dreams and filled with many colors, possibly inspired by her work at Airlie Gardens. Her designs are complex, with elements recalling the art of China and the Caribbean combined with more Western themes. The central motif in many pieces is a human face surrounded by plant and animal forms. The eyes, which Evans equated with God's omniscience, are central to each figure. In addition, God is sometimes depicted with wings and a multicolored collar and halo and shown surrounded by all manner of creatures.
~Now recognized as one of the most important visionary folk artist of the 20th century, her work is highly collected by many museums and collectors all across the world. Despite her prolific and long career, her works do not come up for sale often. When they do, there is always strong competition.
~Her work has been, and in some cases is still, on display at many museums across the country. Her work can be viewed at such museums as the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, the American Folk Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the High Museum of Art.
Minnie Evans photo by Susan Mullally