Interesting Ideas

The unassuming Gene Beecher, who like Ott hails from Ohio, started his painting career about 15 years ago, because "I had time."

He had done some "little things" before. But "then I -- I can't use the word 'seriously' -- I started to paint on an ongoing basis.

Beecher, who says he had no serious art classes but did take a lesson or too, now paints every day, in a corner of his apartment packed with art materials.


"Now I can't stop." Where the work of his three friends to varying degrees partakes of the sweetness usually associated with folk art, his work has a more distinctly modernist edge to it -- agitated, crowded with often-disturbed figures and activity. It's an expressionist style, conveying turmoil and emotion through a palette of distortions in color and shape.

Of one of those distortions -- buildings with a surreal lean to them -- he explains (in a voice so quiet you have to strain to hear it) that "I like contrary things. And of course this is not at all reasonable. But that's my nature."

Beecher, in his late 80s, also makes sculptures from scrap he finds around his apartment complex, and he collects a little art. He sees Hardee, Ott and Williams regularly, and he reads Folk Art magazine.

Does he get any ideas from the magazine. "I hope not. Maybe inadvertently I do. But I don't go out of my way to copy any."

Beecher is probably the most well-established, and priciest, of the four, who all show (not necessarily exclusively) through a variety of galleries, including, in Beecher's case, Joy Moos Gallery in Miami.

Rodney Hardee Ruby Williams E.B. Ott Gene Beecher
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