Ornamental Separator

Sidewalks to Rooftops: Outdoor Folk Art

Now Open
On view in the Leslie Anne Miller and Richard B. Worley Gallery
This exhibition was made possible in part by a gift from Barry M. Boone in loving memory of his wife, Linda.

Ever wonder what it was like to stroll down the streets in late 19th-century America? Looking up, one might see a carved and painted oversized pair of glasses or a weathervane atop a building in the shape of a fish. On the sidewalk, one might encounter a life size wood figure of an Indian maiden or a Cuban lady standing outside a shop advertising tobacco within. Strolling down by the wharf, one could admire the carved figureheads and wooden eagles that decorated many of the wooden ships at dock. This exhibit examines signboards, storefront figures, weather vanes, marine carvings, whirligigs, carousel animals, and other pieces originally intended for use outdoors.

Cat possibly by Salvatore Cernigliaro, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1903-1928
Tobacconist Figure: Girl of the Period, New York, New York, ca. 1880

In the 20th century, some of these signs disappeared from the landscape while others took their place. Large whimsical carved animals awaited riders on carousels. Fanciful whirligigs and wooden ornaments adorned people’s yards. These 19th- and 20th-century works survived the elements and bear witness to the creative spirit that once enlivened the American landscape.

Shoe Shop Sign, America, probably 1920-1940. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gignilliat.

Carousel Figure: Bactrian Camel possibly by Charles I. D. Looff, Possibly Brooklyn, New York, 1880-1885

Whirligig: Soldier possibly New England, 1850-1900. Bequest of Effie Thixton Arthur.


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