YOUNGSVILLE, NY — The ads are nostalgic gems: a woman ecstatic over her waffle maker, glamorous ladies smiling as they clean their toilets, men beaming as they wax their cars. Did we actually …
YOUNGSVILLE, NY — The ads are nostalgic gems: a woman ecstatic over her waffle maker, glamorous ladies smiling as they clean their toilets, men beaming as they wax their cars. Did we actually live like that?
But combine the images with text from different ads and you get something brilliant: Jeffersonville resident Barbara Winfield’s small, clever works of art.
“Thirty years ago, I bought a collection of Life magazines from the ‘30s and ‘40s,” Winfield said. “They were history as it was happening. It was World War Two, and they didn’t know how it was going to turn out. [In the ‘30s] Hitler and Stalin were just politicians.”
But even more compelling than the history were the ads in the back.
Before TV and the internet, she said, companies depended on print ads to sell products. The art that resulted was sometimes over-the-top and to modern eyes hilarious.
“I thought about doing collages with the ads,” she said. For more art-fodder, she picked up other magazines from the era: Woman’s Day. McCall’s. It was the golden age of illustrated ads, before photography took over.
Winfield cut out a few things, played with the concept. The ads are small. How would that work? Add text and what do you get?
Winfield, who works as a sales rep for the River Reporter, has a background in interior design and worked for magazines such as Redbook and American Home. It was intensely creative work, and the move to Sullivan County meant more time for that part of her life.
In 2019, the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance announced its “Art in Sixes” show, and she mounted the ads on oil-painted wood. “I put them in the show and they sold immediately.”
Then came COVID.
Winfield, like many others, had time on her hands, and she made more collages. Did a show at Domesticities in 2020, as people were starting to go out again. “People came to the show whom I hadn’t seen in two years.”
She paused, and you could hear the emotion as she continued. “People were laughing. They were laughing. I thought, ‘This is great.’ People shared memories, they related to [the art].”
She kept the works affordable. “Why not? People can have them in their homes and laugh.”
In her next show, opening at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 at Domesticities, there are 23 new pieces, and doubtless there are more to come for future shows. “I have so much fun doing them.”
Winfield talks about how funny people found her art, and how important it is to laugh in this frightening world. But the works are also shrewd social and historical commentaries, each packed into a tiny space.
Take poor “Speed Queen,” who looks joyous to the point of mania now that she can make waffles. Yes, the juxtaposition with the washing-machine text is funny. But could waffles—or clean clothes, or bouillon cubes—give you real happiness?
Maybe the answer is the women dancing in the kitchen, one triumphantly holding a bottle of booze.
There will be an opening reception for Barbara Winfield’s “Mad Ads and Funny Phrases” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 at Domesticities and the Cutting Garden, 4055 State Rte. 52 in Youngsville. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/domesticities or call 845/482-3333.
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