Arrow maker, plant man, manipulator of bones

by Megan Abbott

A week ago or therebouts, I went to the American Folk Art Museum, one of my favorite places in the city (a whisker of a building nudged ‘longside the monstrous MOMA). Attending with writer and man-about-town Mr. Scott Phillips, I visited an exhibit of focused on the work of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, which you, Sara, would have loved. It was filled with surprises and delights and oddities, including glorious gilded towers made of chicken and turkey bones. He’s one of those artists “they” call “outsider artists.”

The exhibit was wonderful, but my favorites were the photos he took of his wife, Marie–pinup-style tableaux in front of that kind of floral wallpaper that I forever associate with the 1940s and noir, and thus which has a kind of menacing beauty to me. What I love most are here expressions, which I can’t even rightly describe. She seems both shy, hesitant and yet utterly open to all the beauties of the world.

For ten years, he took photographs of her.

During this time, Bruencheinhein was a baker.

(He even used baker’s tools for some of his paintings, along with quills).

I love the idea of he and Marie, after the bakery had closed, assembling their elaborate shoots, draping the pearls and feathers together. Maybe they played music, and danced.

Final note: According to the august Wikipedia, Bruencheinhein owned a Nash Rambler, and once told a friend he only filled the gas tank twice a year.

3 Comments to “Arrow maker, plant man, manipulator of bones”

  1. Oh, I do know this guy’s work, and I do love him! I cannot believe you and Scott went here without me–I am SO jealous! I used to go to the big outsider art fair at the Puck building every year back in the ’90s and his work was always there.

  2. When I get *my* Nash Rambler out of the shop, I’m filling it with the good shit. The back seat, of course, will be draped in feathers and pearls.

  3. He was a rocking ceramist, too.

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