Rainy Sunshine, Cats and Dog, Drum Beater

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Housepaint on wood
26.75 x 29 inches
Collection of
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco museum purchase American Art Trust Fund and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Using house paint, which he preferred for its “pure” qualities, Mose Tolliver painted on foundation surfaces, including wood panels, furniture, and luggage. He typically depicted his subjects in an animated style, and he displayed his paintings on his front porch, which served as gallery and studio. The lyrical, spiraling composition Rainy Sunshine, which encompasses a panoramic vision of Tolliver’s world, demonstrates how he played with multiple perspectives in his painting, rotating his panels as he worked.

In 1982, Tolliver traveled to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where his art was included in an exhibition with Bill Traylor (1854–1949), another important Montgomery, Alabama artist. Details such as the man riding a horse or mule at the top of this composition, painting in a simplified profile, suggest the influence of Traylor’s trademark style. —Lauren Palmor