Of, By and For the People: The Art of Presidential Elections

Whig Political Banner, 1836-1844. By Terrence J. Kennedy (1820-after 1879). Gift of Stephen C. Clark.
Lincoln-Johnson Banner, 1864. Isaac Wetherby, Iowa City, Iowa. Paint on cloth. Putnam Museum and Imax Theater

Of, By, and For the People: The Art of Presidential Elections features folk art of nearly every medium devoted to presidential campaigns including paintings, needlework, stoneware, redware, sculpture, and household items. While academic artists painted portraits of the candidates, folk artists produced art related directly to the election. The election of 1840 pitting the incumbent Martin Van Buren against the Hero of Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison, was the first "modern" campaign for the presidency. 

The twenty-eight artifacts include a four-part stoneware jug depicting Andrew Jackson dueling John Adams from 1825; a Baltimore Album Quilt by Mary Heidentoder Simon from 1845; numerous parade torches; and an 1856 banner supporting the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. This exhibition, guest-curated by Jeffery Pressman, is the largest assemblage of presidential campaign folk art ever seen.