Leslie Lovell, Savannah GA

Eddy Mumma (1908-1986) - Outsider/Folk Art

Eddy Mumma was born in Milton, Ohio. Upon his wife’s death in 1956 he moved to Gainesville, Fl, to be near his daughter.

Mumma was a double amputee from diabetes who rarely left his home. And yet today, more than three decades after his death, Mumma’s artwork can be found at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Folk Art Museum and many other prestigious museums and galleries across the U.S.

Mr. Eddy didn’t start painting until he was 60 upon the suggestion of his daughter to take a painting class to fill his hours. He agreed but was so insulted by the teacher telling him his work was ‘too sloppy’ that he left the first day and never returned. He did, however, take home the paints and developed his own style. From there he went from being an enigma to becoming a highly celebrated self-taught artist.

Eddy often painted on both sides of plywood or Masonite where his distinctive, colorful characters often filled the space with big eyes and large hands. By the time the self-taught artist died 19 years later about 800 pieces of his work filled almost every nook and cranny of his small home. He refused to publicly show or sell his work, although he did share about 60 pieces with a friend/neighbor who would cut his boards and bring him art supplies.

His family considered him eccentric and had no use for his paintings. As they were cleaning out his house upon his death, art professor, Joel Feldstein, was driving buy and arranged to purchase the remaining artwork. Joel restored as many pieces as he could and is credited for saving Eddy’s work.

Rebecca A. Hoffberger, AVAM founder and curator of Mr. Eddy Lives! remarks: "Standing in front of Mr. Eddy's work and imagining him wholly engulfed in such radiantly happy colors and thick, luxuriant paint—momentarily knowing nothing of lost limbs, hellish Florida heat, or loneliness—we are reminded what restorative, soul-saving, powers art has the grace to grant us all. Perhaps cartoonist and philosopher, Lynda Barry, put it best: 'We don't create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay.'"