Leslie Lovell, Savannah GA

Antonio Esteves (1910-1983) - Folk Art

Antonio Esteves, like many artists trained and untrained, looked back to his early life experiences and learnings for subject matter and inspiration. He dabbled in painting in his 50s to make ends meet but began a 10 year painting career in his 60s while living in Brooklyn. In 1971 he suffered from devastating burns over the majority of his body form a boiler room accident while he was the superintendent of a building. After months of recuperating he began painting to create a diversion from the pain. All his work was done in pain which gives his paintings a child like quality, with shaky lines, and vivid colors which is a simplistic style reflective of Grandma Moses. Esteves said, "The painting draws the fire out of my system and into the painting and I feel better".

Esteves received artistic recognition in 1976, when he participated in an annual art show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Twentieth-century folk art was generating a lot of interest in the New York City art world at the time, thanks in part to a devoted group of collectors who lived in the city and were involved in the fledgling, then fifteen-year-old American Folk Art Museum. Mr. Esteves benefited from this cultural moment, as did some of his peers, including Vestie Davis and Morris Hirshfeld. His work is published in several books and has been on display at the Brooklyn Museum and some of his works are in permanent collections at the American Folk Art Museum.