Sheree Scarborough

(512) 922-5483, sheree.scarborough@gmail.com





Folk Art of Five Texas Artists from 1930s and 1940s will be on Display


Exhibit Opening on Thursday, July 136:00-7:30 p.m.



Austin, Texas – June 26, 2017 – Texas Folklife will present an exhibit, opening on July 13, featuring envelopes that have been hand-painted from the 1930s-40s. The work of five 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. These five Texans were among the best-known envelope artist of the 20th century. 


Their work highlights a folk art tradition that dates from the 1850s in England when postage stamps and envelopes were first used. Later in pre-war and mid-20th century America, decorating envelopes was a popular pastime before television when one could listen to the radio and draw at the same time. In addition, letter writing was an important part of the social and cultural fabric of those times.


Adler, Edmiston O’Neill, and Swartz were originally known for decorating envelopes with women in fashionable hats, but with the start of WWII they changed their subject matter to patriotic subjects and were joined by Smith and Martin in 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 during their lifetimes.  

The exhibit is drawn from the more than 2,000 hand-illustrated envelopes of Allan Weiss. Weiss has been collecting folk art for over forty years. In addition to the envelopes, his collections include 20th century Kentucky folk art, duck decoys, walking sticks, handmade fishing lures, and other handmade objects.


The exhibit opening on Thursday, July 13, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. is free and open to the public. Weiss will give a short talk about the tradition of hand painted envelopes and its cultural significance. Light refreshments will be served and beer and wine will be available for donation.


“Texas Folklife is pleased to present this rare exhibit of decorated envelopes,” said Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. “Hand-painting envelopes is a folk art tradition and this exhibit features artifacts that tell us a great deal about the culture and vernacular narratives of the time. They are truly gems packed with historic and artistic meaning—and are visually fascinating.”


Hand-Painted Envelopes will be on view at the Texas Folklife Gallery January 13-October 6, 2017Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and by appointment.



Parking for the event is available in Texas Folklife's gravel driveway, on the street immediately in front of building, and Asterra Properties (located next door). Overflow parking is available at Recycled Reads (5335 Burnet Rd). Please use spaces in the back or on the south side of the Recycled Reads building.



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, installation by Rebecca Bingman.

About Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. Since 1984, Texas Folklife has honored the cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences.


1708 Houston St.

Austin, Texas 78756

(512) 441-9255

(844) 386-2091



Media information: Sheree Scarborough (512) 922-5483 / sheree.scarborough@gmail.com



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