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City of Mayfield launches effort to get an Ellis Wilson Stamp



March 8, 2013 (Mayfield, KY)At the February meeting of the Mayfield City Council meeting, Mayor Teresa Cantrell announced that she would soon be launching a special campaign to commemorate the life of Ellis Wilson, a world-acclaimed artist, who is a Mayfield native.

“We have some real treasures to claim as Mayfieldians, and Ellis Wilson is one of them.  A citizen brought to me the idea to seek Wilson’s commemoration on a U.S.postage stamp, and that’s just what we’re going to do,”  commented Mayor Cantrell, “but we need the assistance of citizens in order to pull it off.”

Cantrell says that the process takes anywhere from 3-5 years, and that her target is to have the approval of the U.S. Postal Service by 2017, which will be the 40th anniversary of Wilson’s death.  The first step is a petition, according to Cantrell.  Currently, copies of the petitions are available in her office, and soon will be displayed in the lobby’s information center at City Hall. 

 “I encourage anyone and everyone to either stop by City Hall and sign one of these petitions, or take one to your family and friends to collect signatures.  The more signatures we have, the more our request will be taken into consideration by the committee."

Cantrell plans to have the petitions available through the spring and summer at City Hall, and they will soon be available in a downloadable form on the City’s website at www.cityofmayfield.org.

Ellis Wilson won national acclaim in the art world during the 1930’s and ‘40’s.  His work can be found in the collections of many museums, including the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art.  His painting, Funeral Procession, received national exposure on the set of Bill Cosby’s 1980’s television show.  Unfortunately, the Mayfield-born artist remains relatively unknown in his hometown and state. 

Wilson, an African American, was born in 1899, one of six children of Frank and Minnie Wilson.  His father, a barber, was also an amateur painter.  While he was still very young, he began working as a janitor for Day’s Ready-to-Wear Dress Shop in Mayfield.  He once drew a portrait in cleaning soap on the store’s window, which attracted the attention of passersby.  The delighted store owner made the window drawings a part of his weekly duties after that. 

Wilson died in 1977, and was buried in a pauper’s grave in an unknown location.  He had produced about 300 paintings during his career, but the most he ever got for a painting was $300.00 during his lifetime.

A local family donated a previously undiscovered Wilson work to a Mayfield food pantry where it will be sold to provide for the needy in the area.

 For more information, contact the Mayor’s office at 251-6251. To download the pdf, click on "More".


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