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The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse

by Gene Logsdon

Availablecloth$70.00x 978-0-8131-2443-8
Culture of the Land
344 pages  Pubdate: 07/20/2007  6 x 9  color and b/w photos

When Gene Logsdon realized that he experienced the same creative joy from working on his farm as he did from writing, he began to suspect that farming itself was a form of art. Thus began his search for the origins of the artistic impulse in the agrarian lifestyle. The Mother of All Arts is the culmination of Logsdon's journey, his account of friendships with farmers and artists driven by the urge to create. He chronicles his long relationship with Wendell Berry and discovers the playful humor of several new agrarian writers. He reveals insights gleaned from conversations with Andrew Wyeth and his family of artists. Through his association with musicians such as Willie Nelson and his involvement with Farm Aid, Logsdon learns how music—blues, jazz, country, and even rock 'n' roll—is rooted in agriculture. Logsdon sheds new light on the work of rural painters, writers, and musicians and suggests that their art could be created only by those who work intimately with nature. Unlike the gritty realism or abstract expressionism often favored by contemporary critics, agrarian art evokes familiar feelings of community and comfort. Most important, Logsdon convincingly demonstrates that diminishing the connection between art and nature lessens the social value of both. Humorous and introspective, The Mother of All Arts is neither conventional cultural criticism nor traditional art criticism. It is a unique, lively meditation on the nature and purpose of art--and on the life well lived--by one of the most original voices of rural America.

Gene Logsdon, a writer and farmer in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, is the author of many books, including The Contrary Farmer and the forthcoming novels The Lords of Folly and The Husbandman.

"If you are interested in being liberated from the insane notion that agriculture is just a 'business like any other' or that art has nothing to do with farm life, read Gene Logsdon's new book, The Mother of All Arts . Much of the contemporary art has ignored agriculture, as most of industrial agriculture has ignored art; as a result both have become impoverished. Perhaps Logsdon's book can help them to find each other again." --Frederick Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center, Iowa State Univers

"In his usual lively manner, the Contrary Farmer himself reminds us of the unbreakable relationship between fine and domestic arts, between culture and agriculture. This book moves in the right direction: from the ground up." --Jason Peters, editor of Wendell Berry: Life and Work

"Gene Logsdon presents what American farmers and artists are all aboutingenuity, creativity, patience, and above all, endurance. From living off the land to living the life of an artist, The Mother of All Arts gives insight into the minds of America's backbone and how Americans see their world." --Karl J. Kuerner, artist

"In both the creation and deconstruction of art, a pitchfork is sometimes required. Farmer Gene Logsdon is well acquainted with the tool and can ply it" --Michael Perry, author of Population 485

“A short review cannot do justice to the wealth of ideas nd information given in this fine book.”--Ohioana Quarterly

"Gene Logsdon’s The Mother of all Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse has found a fitting home in [the “Culture of the Land”] series—and will no doubt find a fit audience as well." --Jason Peters, First Principles

“Logsdon has undertaken to defend the farmers of whom far too many people are comfortably contemptuous, even as they, the contemptuous, depend upon farm people for their very sustenance. He recognizes the “universal and ancient cultural bias against farmers,” and, quite rightly, he will have none of it.” --Jason Peters,www.firstprinciplesjournal.com