Kapler is curator of "
Today, a Seifert watercolor can sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and is coveted by American folk art collectors "from coast to coast," Kapler said.
Six of Seifert's paintings in the museum show belong to the
"We know of about 43 that existed at one time. If he painted from 1879 to 1910 or so, it stands to reason that there would be more than these 40," said Kapler, curator of cultural history for the
"Watercolor on paper is not durable. How many of these just got cooked by the sun because they were in the living room? Tossed? How many are still behind some other work, waiting to be discovered?"
Kapler learned of three undocumented Seifert paintings after the exhibit opened. One was noted by a visitor in a gallery guest book. Another was reported to be owned by a Seifert descendant in
Done in a folk style similar to the work of Grandma Moses, Seifert's paintings use mostly vivid watercolors and sometimes touches of lead or metallic paints on brown paper.
Their delicate nature has required some to be restored; others bear small natural acid stains from the wood planks the watercolor paintings were mounted on inside a picture frame.
The exhibit "
A few months later he was in the U.S., where he married
Seifert's descendants relayed stories they heard as children about Seifert earning
Seifert was also an amateur archaeologist who was in touch with the state historical society about his finds of Indian relics and other artifacts. He also made and sold paintings of European scenes on glass, and eventually established a taxidermy practice.
But how he came to depict farmscapes is still unknown. Seifert painted from an elevated perspective, as if perched on an invisible hill overlooking a farm. He likely sketched in the field and did the painting later, Kapler said.
The multifaceted exhibit includes many materials about Seifert's time and place, including a giant touchscreen loaded with old photos and videos depicting practices on family farms of the times.
Though Seifert may have taken artistic license with some details in his paintings, "These are real scenes," Kapler said, "where people lived and worked."
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