Eddy Mumma (1908-1986) took up painting at age 60, working alone in a small house in Gainesville where lived to be near his only daughter, Carroll, and her family after the death of his wife. At Carroll’s suggestion he enrolled in a painting class, but was so offended at the teacher’s criticism of his “sloppy” art that he promptly quit the lessons.
From that point forward, “Mr. Eddy” – as he liked to be known – immersed himself in his working on his own, often covering both sides of any surface he could acquire and amassing the art on the increasingly full walls of his home. Restricted to a wheelchair in his tiny clapboard house, Mr. Eddy did not often go further than his front porch. His work became his world, filled from floor to ceiling with the colorful portraits he produced.
Eddy did not sell his work, refused opportunities to exhibit and turned away interested gallery owners. He gave away or traded for art supplies only a few paintings during his lifetime. He said, “my paintings belong with me.”
Upon his death at age 78, Mr. Eddy left about 1,000 paintings as well as painted doors, lamps, and surfaces within the tiny home where he spent his last years. Although Mr. Eddy’s work has been collected and he is lauded as significant within the American folk-art canon, he has never before been recognized with a solo public exhibition.
The Paintings of Eddy Mumma, ongoing, on display in the Mary F. Prosen Room.
Anne E. Gilroy, Thomas Center Galleries Curator