Tella Kitchen


was a memory painter whose works recount events from her life in rural Indiana and Ohio. Her brightly colored landscapes and town scenes, full of incident, depict both the joys and misfortunes shared by small communities. Kitchen was born in Londonderry, Ohio, and was brought up on a farm in nearby Independence, Indiana.After her marriage, Kitchen moved to Adelphi, Ohio, where her husband, Noland Kitchen, served as mayor. The Kitchens also operated a gas station, sold used cars,ran a greenhouse, and farmed. After Noland’s death in 1963, Kitchen was elected mayor, the first woman to hold the post. Like many self-taught artists, Kitchen didnot paint until later in life. After her husband died, Kitchen’s son, Denny, bought her a paint set, but three years passed before Kitchen found a congenial subject fromher own memories. Many of her oil paintings, some as small as two inches square, were made as gifts for family members. It was Denny Kitchen who brought hismother’s work to the attention of Robert Bishop (1938–1991), who was then at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and later became director of theAmerican Folk Art Museum. Bishop in turn included Kitchen and her work in his book,
Folk Painters of America

Bishop, Robert.
Folk Painters of America.
New York, 1979.Dewhurst, C.Kurt, et al.
Artists in Aprons: Folk Art by American Women.
New York, 1979.Rosenak, Chuck, and Jan Rosenak.
Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists,
New York, 1990