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July 13, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Hand-Painted Envelope Exhibit

Texas Folklife will present an exhibit, opening on July 13, featuring envelopes that have been hand-painted from the 1930s-40s.

The exhibition Hand-Painted Envelopes brings together the work of five Texas 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, TX.

These five Texans were among the best known envelope artists of the 20th Century.  Their work in the 1930s and 1940s highlights a folk-art tradition that dates from the 1850s in England when postage stamps and envelopes were first used.  Decorating envelopes was a popular pastime before television when one could listen to the radio and draw at the same time.

Letter writing was an important part of the social and cultural fabric of those times.  People were moving to find work and letters were the way families keep in touch.   Long distance telephone charges were very high and phone call and telegrams were limited to emergencies.

Adler, Edmistion and Swartz were originally known for decorating envelopes with ladies in fancy hats but with the start of WW II they changed to patriotic subjects and were joined by Smith and Martin in the 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 in the 1930s and 40s.  Decorated envelopes are an old folk art tradition only now being recognized by the art world. Come check out the amazing artwork and historical context this July 13th!

The exhibit will open through October 2017 so don’t worry if you miss the opening night, there will still be plenty of time to see the historical cards!
See TexasFolklife.org for more details and other events. 


July 13, 2017
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
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