Press Release:
For Immediate Release: 8/7/2013

Outsiders Art & Collectibles and Mike’s Art Truck Present

"From The Porch: The Paintings of Jake McCord"

Contact: Pamela Gutlon 919-451-3231 or 

Where: Outsiders Art & Collectibles, 718-C Iredell Street, Durham, NC 27705
When:  Wednesday, August 21, 2013 – September 20, 2013 

Opening Reception: Wednesday, August 21 5:30-8PM
Live Music & Food Trucks

About Jake McCord: (1944-2009)

A celebrity in his hometown of Thomson, GA, self-taught artist Jake McCord was a quiet, gentle, and hard-working man. First-time visitors from the art world were quickly told that painting was only his hobby, that he worked a full-time job. And that he did. For 39 years Jake worked as a groundskeeper for the city of Thomson, a small town outside of Augusta, GA. He was well-known as the hardest-working person anyone there had ever seen. He retired from the City in 2007, due to his failing health. 

Work for Jake & his 10 siblings started at an early age on the farm where his family sharecropped. It was a tough life and he learned some tough lessons from his father about the value of hard work, honesty and treating people right. Jake’s advice to today’s young people was simple, “Get a job and go to work!”

Outside of work, Jake led a quiet and solitary life. He spent his hours creating bright “jolly” paintings and watching TV. He attended church and occasionally went fishing. He was absolutely dedicated to his TV watching. He often had several on at the same time, playing different shows. He loved Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie. He also watched Julia Child regularly and learned a little from a show about painting. He said that it wasn’t good for a TV to be off for long. It needed to be exercised.

Television shows may have had an influence, but the subjects of Jake’s paintings generally came directly from his imagination. He named the people and animals in his paintings seemingly at random, since they could be different in a matter of minutes. He liked to add what he called “extra touches” to make the story of the painting more interesting. An “extra touch” may have been a pet on a leash or a lady’s handbag. 

One subject he painted from real life was his church. Church elders say that Jake kept the grass cut and the landscaping clean at the church, without anyone ever asking him to do it. But nowadays the church Jake attended and the church he painted look nothing alike. The reason is that Jake painted the church the way it had been before it was burned. It was once an elaborate & historic white wood-framed building before it was destroyed by arsonists in 1977. Jake’s church was one of 4 that were torched on the same night. The congregation replaced it with a new brick structure. The arsonists were caught and have now served their sentences.

For years Jake lived in a wooden house with a big front porch beside the railroad tracks in Thomson. He displayed his large happy paintings on his porch facing the street, often nailed to the outside wall. He hoped the people going by would see them and maybe come to visit him. Although he always lived alone, Jake disagreed with those who called him a “loner.” He was not lonely, he said, because his paintings kept him company. 

People did come by to see Jake, and they admired and purchased his artwork. Soon it began turning up in galleries & museums around the US. Jake gained fame as a well-renowned folk artist. It was his health that put an end to his painting. Struggling with heart problems for several years, he finally required care in the local nursing home. He passed away on September 1, 2009.

Shortly after Jake moved into the nursing home, the house on Railroad Street was demolished to make room for a new county courthouse. Fortunately, some local art and history lovers were able to rush in and salvage the porch. It has since been installed in the local McDuffie Museum where it displays some of Jake’s paintings.

(Karen Mack, 2013)

About Outsiders Art & Collectibles:

Outsiders Art & Collectibles is Durham’s only gallery focusing on the genre of Southern Outsider Art. Outsider’s owner, Pamela Gutlon prides herself on using the gallery, not only as a venue for exposing Durham to Outsider Art, but also as a means towards creating community.  For more information visit: or call Pamela at 919-451-3231.

About Mike’s Art Truck:

Mike’s Art Truck is a “virtual” folk art gallery that has recently arrived in the Triangle from Atlanta. Greg & Karen Mack promote and sell the work of a wide range of self-taught artists from their website and through cooperation with other galleries and businesses. They are excited about their new friendship with Outsiders Art & Collectibles and look forward to bringing some great folk art to our area. Visit them on their website or email

Link to short documentary about Jake on YouTube:

Pictures attached from Karen Mack

Jake on his porch, 2005
Final Days, 2009
218 Railroad Street, 2005

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