Janis Price

Born in Nashport, Ohio, in 1933, Janis Price developed an interest in art when she was very young. She later found that raising a family of three and working part-time left little opportunity for creative efforts. When her children were grown, she returned to her first love, art. She had no trouble deciding what to paint, for even as a child she had been fascinated by the tales told by her grandmother and great-grandmother of pioneer days in North Dakota and Oregon and had been a sharp observer of the Ohio country side in which she grew up. Home life and the ways of the Ohio Amish have provided her with particularly fruitful inspiration, and many of her paintings illustrate 19th and early 20th century life as seen through the eyes of her grandparents.   

In 1978 Janis sent photos of her work to the Museum of American Folk Art in New York. She now says she was too naïve to realize that that should have been a waste of time. But someone there showed them to Madison Avenue art dealer Jay Johnson who liked what he saw and became her agent. Johnson handled her work until he passed away, over the years placing her paintings in many important collections and museums from New York to Japan.   Price’s paintings may be less exacting in detail than the work of some of her contemporaries, but they have a patterned quality that is reminiscent of fabric. Varicolored houses seen against a background of fallen snow remind one of the well-known schoolhouse pattern quilts. It is no wonder that Price has taken to sometimes creating compositions similar to her paintings by cutting out small bits of cloth and sewing them together to create an interior or a landscape.      

Janis Price resides and works in Newark, Ohio, sometimes putting in a seven day week at her art. She has attracted nationwide attention but still remains the unassuming homebody who once turned down a television appearance with Jimmy Dean, believing it was a joke.

{reprinted from “AMERICAN FOLK ART OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY” by Jay Johnson, 1983}