Rediscovered folk art of Mayo family, father and son, introduced to public

COLUMBUS – The work of two generations of a family of central Ohio artists, Walter 0. Mayo (1878-1970) and his son Walter L. Mayo (1908-2000), will be featured at the Columbus Museum of Art beginning Jan. 31.

Although the Mayo carvings and paintings are known and admired by their friends and family members, they are little known to the wider public.

This show is designed to introduce these two lifelong bodies of work, recently rediscovered by collector and folk art dealer Duff Lindsay.

It honors their carvings and paintings as contributions to the arts in Columbus.

Born in Marysville, Ohio, Walter 0. Mayo spent a lifetime carving out a world of his own. The elder Mayo, worked as a truck driver for most of his 92 years, but had started carving wood as a teenager.

Many of his hand-carved and painted figures reveal a loving knowledge of the animals and the life he knew growing up on a small farm in Ohio.

The exhibition features the rich variety of Mayo’s individual figures and animals, as well as several of his elaborate tableaux, including a’ 20-mule team inspired by the well known Borax advertisements.

His religious masterpiece, The Ark of the Covenant, is also included.

The son, Walter L. Mayo, was born in Mt Vernon, Ohio. He chose painting as his medium of expression.

As a young man in the 1930s, he studied commercial art briefly through a mail order course, hoping to make it his career. The uncertain times of the Great Depression, coupled with the need to support his family, forced him to take a job driving with Schlariet Transfer.

By day he drove the company’s trucks, and by night he painted the lettering on those same trucks. In his spare time, the younger Mayo continued to develop his talent as an artist, producing paintings on a variety of subjects including a portrait of his Schlariet truck and his family’s lakeside summer cottage.

An active member of the Bethany Baptist church, Mayo is perhaps best known for the large banners he created for area churches and religious groups, including the 35-foot banner that has traditionally been displayed each spring at the Baptist Pastors’ Conference “Simultaneous Revival.”

The exhibition will remain on display through March 4.

The Columbus Museum of Art is located at 480 E. Broad Street. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and until 8:30 p.m. every Thursday. Suggested admission is $6 for adults; $4 for seniors and students 6 and older; free for museum members and children 5 and younger, and free on Thursday evenings after 5:30 p.m.

For additional information, call the museum’s 24-hour information line at 614-221-4848.

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