Details:

This painting depicts a group of young men and teenagers gambling on a side street in a rural Appalachian coal town at night; an older man seems to be losing his money, while an unattended rooster walks in a yard. This seemingly simple and strange painting is actually a deep exploration of a living and thriving folktale tradition.
Unframed
Signed

① Artwork:

High Rollers

This painting depicts a group of young men and teenagers gambling on a side street in a rural Appalachian coal town at night; an older man seems to be losing his money, while an unattended rooster walks in a yard. This seemingly simple and strange painting is actually a deep exploration of a living and thriving folktale tradition.

Mike Ousley's paintings are direct comments on Appalachian life and traditions. The artist has painted since childhood; although trained in Western European traditions, the artist largely paints in the folk style of his youth. Ousley credits the visionary artists and rich heritage of the Appalachian region as his primary influence. Born the son of a coal miner in Southeastern Kentucky, the artist grew up listening to stories told by friends and family. Later, Ousley traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains as an adult, absorbing more tales and experiences. The artist’s paintings are, at first glance, simple stories told in the folk tradition—tight vignettes of a memory, some odd anecdote or an old Appalachian tale. Upon further reflection, Ousley's work represents a broader struggle of the Appalachian peoples to secure their collective identity by embracing the rich heritage of their storytelling tradition.

About this piece, Ousley simply said: "Kids these days..."

Specs:

18 inches
14 inches

③ Artist:

Mike Ousley

Mike Ousley’s paintings are tight vignettes that explore memories, odd anecdotes and old tales from Appalachia, directly commenting on the region’s traditions. Drawing influence from visionary artists and childhood tales he heard while growing up in Southeastern Kentucky, the artist often sets aside his training in Western European traditions for a folk-influenced style he developed in his youth. The simplicity and strangeness of the artist’s work belie their depth; they represent a broader struggle of the Appalachian peoples to secure their collective identity via a rich heritage of storytelling.

Mike Ousley:
High Rollers, 2022
Acrylic on panel
14.0 × 18.0 inches /