"Uncle Jack" Dey
On a recent trip through the Smithsonian's folk art collection, I was mesmerized by the paintings of John William "Uncle Jack" Dey. Uncle Jack started painting after retiring from the Richmond City Police Force at the age of 43. Using model train enamel on wood, his bold color choices and overwhelming compositions were the initial attraction. But a closer look reveals endless amusements.
Each piece tells a story, either from his past, or from the bible, or just some silly nonsense he wants you to know about. In many paintings, a threatening flock of crows is seen dominating the sky with their evil presence, while sweet little bunnies scatter across the ground. What happens between these extremes is anyone's guess. Maybe someone is getting attacked by a bear, or eating watermelon with an impending elephant stampede, or getting cooked for an exotic pie, or just hanging out with unicorns and albino elephants. You know, the usual.