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An Overwhelming Call: The Life & Work of Eric Sloane
By Michael Updegraff
"When you hold an early implement, when you close your hand over the worn wooden handle, you know exactly how it felt to the craftsman whose hand had smoothed it to its rich patina. In that instant you are as close to that craftsman as you can be - even closer than if you live in the house that he built or sit in the chair that he made. In that moment you are near to another being in another life, and you are that much richer."
The works of Eric Sloane have deeply impacted our understanding of life in early rural America. Sloane's books, replete with his trademark pen-and-ink drawings, have been credited with kindling the hand tool revival that continues today. His paintings, totaling some 15,000 produced in his lifetime, stirred the collective memories of generations of admirers the world over. But his perspectives about the destructive effects of industrialization on society and his idealized renderings of days gone by are not without controversy.
Who was Eric Sloane? What fueled his lifelong passion to delve into the mind of the early American maker? From his days as a traveling sign painter to his later obsession with New England barns, Sloane's journey was driven by a calling to reconnect with the past. In this article, author Michael Updegraff seeks to trace the thread of that journey through the inspirations, the controversies, and the prolific creativity of the man known as Eric Sloane.
The next Issue Five article will be announced tomorrow...