Two exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum give the marvelous self-taught artist Bill Traylor his due –
Bill Traylor’s talent surfaced suddenly in 1939 when he was 85 and had 10 years to live. By then he had left the plantation in southern Alabama where he had been born a slave in 1854, and, after Emancipation, scratched out a living as a sharecropper. He moved to Montgomery, the state capital, where he slept on a pallet in the back room of a funeral parlor and spent his days sitting on a wood box watching the world go by on Monroe Street, the center of the city’s lively black district.
“Bill Traylor: Drawings From the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts” and “Traylor in Motion: Wonders From New York Collections” remain on view through Sept. 22 at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Avenue at 66th Street; folkartmuseum.org, (212) 595-9533.