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HAROLD OSMAN KELLY

Blanket, Texas' Famous Son

Blanket's most famous resident was painter Harold Osman Kelly, who moved from the Panhandle (near Dalhart) to Blanket in 1939. Having been a shepherd, cowboy, sharecropper, and occasional rodeo rider, he had a wealth of experience to paint from. His talent for sketching was developed at an early age and he once illustrated his favorite Charles Dicken's book, The Pickwick Papers.

After the move to Blanket, his wife took a job at a Brownwood laundry and the couple lived in converted chickencoop. In poor health, Kelly painted from encylopedic memory of people, small towns and landscapes. He graduated to oil and canvas and when Lexie Dean Robertson of Rising Star saw promise in his work, he was introduced to the famous painter Jerry Bywaters, who was then director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts.

Bywaters helped market Kelly's paintings and arranged a 1950 exhibition for him. He also invited him to serve as artist-in-residence at the State Fair of Texas. Kelly's output was meager. Because of this, his talent was never fully recognized. He has been, however, described as "one of the few genuine primitive painters we have had in our country."

Kelly, who died in 1955 has the largest collection of his paintings at Texas A&M University in College Station.

John Troesser

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