I fell in love with his nostalgic Delta paintings that brought back so many memories of the black families who lived on the farms and in our community.
I saw this painting, "Sunday Morning Memphis Blues," when we arrived at the exhibit hall. I was instantly drawn to it, but Stephen was nowhere in sight. I never dreamed I'd be able to buy it. Yet, all morning long, I kept an eye on that booth.
When Stephen appeared early in the afternoon, I made a "bee line" to meet him and was instantly as drawn to him as I was to his paintings. John and I visited with him for a while. Very down-to-earth, soft-spoken Southern gentleman.
There were two paintings I liked. When I found out they were for sale, each within my price range, I had a hard time deciding. Then Stephen told us the story of the man in the painting above. That convinced me.
It's a story on canvas of Furry Lewis, a Memphis Blues musician who was best known on Beal Street, playing the acoustic blues of the 1920s. In his younger days, he traveled with medicine shows and minstral shows. An accident in 1917 cost Furry his leg. He was running for a train and got it caught underneath. From then on, he wore a peg-leg. And, he sang the blues every Saturday night on Beal Street--and suffered a hang-over each Sunday morning.
I loved it!
I bought it!
But, all year long that second painting haunted me.
When we were making our plans to attend the 2011 farm show, John called Stephen and inquired about the painting I didn't buy. Stephen had sold it--"Shoot!"--but, he had another I might like. We planned to meet.
I was shocked when I saw it! Stephen had never visited our farm--hadn't seen our website--had no idea that he'd painted our shotgun houses! Not only that, the rocker on the porch is exactly like the ones we use here on the farm. The red Coke chest is a carbon copy of my Dad's old one. We never had a bull dog, but big snapping turtles are a common sight here in the spring. And, the people on the porch? It was like looking inside my head of memories. Of course, I bought it!
Here are our shotgun houses.
Cowboy's is on the right, the "spitting image" of Stephen's painting.
I now have two Stephen Hudson paintings. The 2012 Farm & Gin Show is coming up. John's going to see the newest farm equipment. I'm going to see Stephen!
There are other folk art paintings that I like, but Stephen Hudson's and Gladys Watson's pieces are my all time favorites. They capture the very essence of past life in the Delta.