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Show me your Earl
Earl Swanigan, Hudson Valley's outsider artist
GOODS & SERVICES: FOUND Object
I recently bought a painting by Earl Swanigan, Hudson’s famous outsider artist, as an NYU graduation present for my best friend’s daughter. Earl was a real personality around Hudson before he died in 2019. He used to sell his paintings from a shopping cart and you could always find him on the street or get word to him that you wanted to buy a painting. There were frequent rumors swirling that he was doing a collaboration with Marc Jacobs, but I don't think that ever materialized.
Everyone up here has one and it's fun when you go to someone's house in the Hudson Valley to see their “Earl.” (I have one of two dogs in sheriff suits.) I bought one of a dog and a donkey for a friend that I really regret giving him. I gave another dog on a tractor to a farmer friend. Earl did a lot of dogs on trapezes and went through a pornographic stage that was not his high point. His Obama period produced some great work though. I wish I had bought one of those.
A lot of stores in Hudson were stockpiling Earls, but they’re hard to find now. (You can browse the online market here, here, and here.) I had heard the woman at the White Whale on Warren Street in Hudson had a few good ones left and got very lucky to find this 'cat' Earl there (pictured above). It’s a bit bigger than I wanted. The owner said she has some choice pieces at home that she refuses to sell. But there’s still one more too-big Earl left for sale at the shop. –Ann Marie Gardner