"Mother and Child"

  • Details

    Black folk art

  • Biography

    Doc Spellmon (1925 - 2008)

    F.L. “Doc” Spellmon (1925-2008) 

    One of San Antonio’s most prolific and renowned
    artists, Spellmon’s career spanned decades, including 20 years as an Air
    Force writer and illustrator between 1956 and 1976. His
    subsequent “retirement” was one of the artist’s most productive
    periods—creating an untold number of works, whose hallmarks are
    generous applications of layered paint and masterful texturing of color. The
    themes of his paintings speak to an array of themes—including Biblical
    depictions, Slavery scenes, memories of his upbringing in East Texas, scenes
    of African village life and portraits of historical notables. 

    decades, Texas-based folk artist F.L. "Doc" Spellmon painted scenes
    of life in the South. Inspired by his rural upbringing, religious surroundings,
    and African American heritage, Spellmon found national success through his
    hundreds of paintings and mixed media pieces. His art focuses on the vitality
    in everyday life, the joys of family and community, the universal themes found
    in religious images, and the importance of cultural heritage in today's world.

    F.L. Doc Spellmon and Ruth Mae McCrane at The Museum of
    African-American Life and Culture - Dallas, Texas.


    In: Art in America (July 1996). Brief review of exhibition
    by Spellman and McCrane two contemporary Texas artists born in the
    1920s whose subjects are rural and urban black community life. The
    two artists in this show, "Doc" Spellmon and Mae McCrane,
    were both born in the late 1920 he in rural East Texas and she in Corpus
    Christi upon the Gulf Coast. Although the one and the other received formal art
    training and have worked in art professions--Spellmon as a combat illustrator
    for the Air Force and McCrane as a teacher--over the years they have adopted
    consciously native turn of expressions that pay homage to, while also
    transforming, the phraseologies of self-taught painters such as Clementine
    huntsman and the Rev. Johnnie Swearingen. Both artists are the children of
    Baptist ministers, and exhibitions of African-American religious life fill
    their work. Spellmon's paintings are almost equally divided between
    depictions of baptisms and church-going and images of farm work. McCrane's more
    varied religious background, which includes her conversion to Catholicism and
    adolescent experience as the secretary for a Pentecostal house of worship in
    Houston, has prompted her to depict urban images of weddings, funerals,
    covered-dish socials and meetings of The Ladies' Missionary Society. All of
    these, like Spellmon's images of honky-tonks, waterside cafes and the
    offices of politicians and doctors, are crowded scenes of community celebration.
    Spellmon's paintings involve a conscious combination of folk traditions
    with of the like kind modernist influences as American social realism, the work
    of Mexican muralists and artists as varied as Maurice Prendergast and Georges
    Rouault. As his phraseology has matured, Spellmon has gone for thicker layers
    of freely applied paint overlaid by a heavy glaze. Beneath the glazing,
    however, there continues to be an active vision of religious life and rural
    occupations. In Pecan Pickers (1992) the men beating tree with drawn out poles
    have both brought down an impressionist shower of orange nuts and scared up a
    collection of white birds.