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Hand-Painted Envelopes Exhibition





Hand-Painted Envelopes Exhibition
July 13 - October 6, 2017

Texas Folklife Gallery


The exhibition Hand-Painted Envelopes brings together the work of five Texas envelope artists, Gladys Adler of Bellaire and her daughter, Florene Edmiston O’Neill of San Antonio; Mrs. R.H. Swartz and Lonnie Smith of Houston; and Dr. Charles Martin of Canyon, TX. 

These five Texans were among the best known envelope artists of the 20th Century.  Their work in the 1930s and 1940s highlights a folk-art tradition that dates from the 1850s in England when postage stamps and envelopes were first used.  Decorating envelopes was a popular pastime before television when one could listen to the radio and draw at the same time.

Letter writing was an important part of the social and cultural fabric of those times.  People were moving to find work and letters were the way families keep in touch.   Long distance telephone charges were very high and phone call and telegrams were limited to emergencies.

Adler, Edmistion and Swartz were originally known for decorating envelopes with ladies in fancy hats but with the start of WW II they changed to patriotic subjects and were joined by Smith and Martin in the efforts to support the war. 

This is a rare opportunity to see the work of these Texas folk artists whose work was known throughout country in the 1930s and 40s.  Decorated envelopes are an old folk art tradition only now being recognized by the art world.

Hand-Painted Envelopes Exhibit opening, featuring a talk by Allan Weiss, will be held July 13, 2017 (7pm-8:30pm)

The exhibit will be on display at the Texas Folklife Gallery from July 13, 2017 - October 6, 2017.  Texas Folklife Gallery hours are Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, and by appointment. Contact Texas Folklife at 512-441-9255 or email for more information.

This exhibit was made possible in part by support from the board and members of Texas Folklife, The Texas Commission on the Arts with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, and the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.  Exhibit collection courtesy of Allan Weiss, curated by Rebecca Bingman.