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At Booth Western, folk art by late Harry Teague earns its spurs

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

It took some creative thinking to open the Booth Western Art Museum nearly a decade ago in Cartersville, a long way from sagebrush and cactus. And it took a leap of imagination by the late Harry Teague, a native of the northwest Georgia town whose paintings will be shown at the Booth starting May 15 to transform almost instantly into an artist.

After a series of strokes and a heart attack in the 1990s left Teague unable to continue his work as a developer, he turned, out of boredom, to paints and brushes for the first time. What emerged from his fertile imagination were cheerful, detailed acrylic paintings boosted by Teague’s utterly instinctive sense of color, composition and patterning.

Teague showed his work at Folk Fest in Atlanta for several years and had multiple pieces collected by places including the House of Blues chain and Radford University in Virginia. After he died in 2006, his wife DianniaCQ was reluctant to sell the dozens of remaining originals, hoping for museum shows and instead publishing three limited-edition prints.

Her wish has finally come true: A number of the works will be on public view again in “Saddle Up: The Western World of Harry Teague,” running Tuesday5/15 through Sept. 2 in the Booth’s Borderlands Gallery.

“Harry Teague developed a unique talent which helped him cope with his inability to read or articulate after his strokes,” Booth executive director Seth Hopkins noted. “It is impossible for us to know exactly what occurred in his mind after the traumatizing events he experienced, but he undoubtedly awoke a part of him that was not known before. His work speaks to people of all walks of life.”

Diannia Teague will discuss her late husband’s artistic and medical journeys at an Art for Lunch program at 12:15 p.m. June 6 that will also include a talk on brain trauma and art therapy by Diana Gregory, a Kennesaw State University associate professor of art education.

Information: 770-387-1300, www.boothmuseum.org.

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