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Jake McCord and Dinosaurs


J. T. McCord, Winged Alligator, 1985. Acrylic on canvas. Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.


By the time of his death, Jake McCord (1948–2009) was a local celebrity in his hometown of Thomson, Georgia, where he worked full-time as a groundskeeper for 39 years while painting on the side as a hobby. McCord was a quiet, gentle, and hard-working man. For 39 years Jake worked as a groundskeeper for the city of Thomson where he was well-known as the hardest-working person anyone there had ever seen.

In 1984, Jake saw “some white ladies taking painting lessons at the Hawes Paint Store” and decided to try it himself. His first subject was an alligator he saw on television, a source which he frequently used for inspiration.

Jake liked to “showcase” his art on his front porch and he was immovable about the amount of time a piece needed to be displayed before it could be sold. To him, it was important that people passing by had the time to admire his paintings before he was comfortable with parting with them. No one ever successfully persuaded him to sell a painting before “it was ready to go.” That policy included movie stars who came to see him and often left empty-handed.

His bold humorous paintings were typically painted on plywood boards and characteristically contain a nail hole at the top where Jake would drive a nail through the painting to attach it to the weathered wood siding on his front porch. His favorite subjects were cats, dogs, horses and women with big hairdos. At a glance, his 2-dimensional imagery might simply read as cartoonish, but these paintings were more likely realistic representations in the artist’s eyes: big-haired women seen in town (or on television), wild animals, cats and dogs, and species-bending creatures derived from his imagination that often resembled Godzilla. McCord's subjects occasionally look menacing or terrified, with teeth bared and wide-open eyes, but McCord always asserted that all of his subjects were “jolly” and smiling, and they were often well accessorized with what he called “extra touches” such as a purse, wristwatches, a beer or a leashed pet.

Aside from making art, attending church and fishing in his free time, Jake McCord was completely obsessed with watching television. The artist often had seven or more TVs playing at one time, each set to a different channel such as Home and Garden or one of his beloved soap operas. The theory was simple– it wasn’t good to have the TV off for too long. McCord’s devotion to television clearly influenced the characters he portrayed, and it also provided a sense of having company while he worked.

McCord lived alone in an old wood-frame house with a big front porch right by the railroad tracks in the center of town. Health problems brought Jake retirement from his city job in 2007, and he passed away in 2009. The house on Railroad Street was demolished to make room for a new county courthouse. The local history museum, McDuffie Museum, rushed in to salvage the porch and it is now part of a display of Jake’s artwork.


CLOTHESPIN DINOSAURS

Supplies:

Clothespin

Glue

Felt

Scissors

Marker


Instructions:

Draw a dinosaur head on your felt ( don't forget an eye and nose)

Cut out the dinosaur head (make sure to cut the bottom of the mouth away from the head)

Glue the head and mouth onto the clothespin and let dry

CHOMP!


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