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 Jurden (Chick) Wooten  (1930 - 2011)

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Lived/Active: North Carolina/New Jersey      Known for: regionalist scene painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is an obituary of the artist:

"Local artist ‘Chick' Wooten dead at 81
Self-taught painter gained renown for Southern scenes from his youth"
July 01, 2011 12:00 AM

Jon Dawson
Staff Writer
A Lenoir County, North Carolina original has passed away at the age of 81.

Jurden “Chick” Wooten Jr. of La Grange, who died Monday at Kindred Hospital in Greensboro, was an artist who painted scenes of a South that is slowly fading away. Over the years, Wooten’s work has been featured in public exhibitions and is on display in offices and homes throughout the region.

“He started painting in grade school,” said Chick’s brother Murthis Wooten of La Grange. “By the time he reached his late 20s, you could tell he had a gift for painting. He had no training for it, but he had a gift.”

Over a 60-year career, Chick Wooten created countless paintings and murals depicting his life growing up in Lenoir County in the 1930s and 1940s.

“He published a book called Pa Pa’s Tracks: Days Back Yonder, ” said Chick Wooten’s son Edward Wooten, 60, of Waldorf, Md. “My father moved to New Jersey in the late 1950s but came back to La Grange in 1970.”

During Chick Wooten’s time in New Jersey, he worked for New Jersey Hatfield Wire and Cable. After his return to La Grange, Wooten spent many years working for Howell’s Day Care Centers.

“He painted murals for Howell’s,” said Murthis Wooten. “They have several locations around the state and he did work at all of them.” Wooten retired from Howell’s about 10 years ago, he said.”

Wooten came from an artistic family. Murthis Wooten — along with five cousins — is a member of gospel group The Twilights, while his late brother George was a member of The Corsairs. The Corsairs were a La Grange-based trio who, according to, scored a No. 12 hit in 1961 with the song Smokey Places — a song that was featured in an episode of the HBO series “The Sopranos.” Chick Wooten’s son Edward is also carrying on the family tradition as a photographer.

Dr. Charles Classen of Kinston discovered Wooten’s work while attending an art show in La Grange back in the late 1990s.

 “I have the biggest collection Chick Wooten art around,” said Classen, a Baltimore native who’s lived in Lenoir County since 1975. “Over the years, I’ve probably purchased 20 pieces of his work.

“I like art and I like history,” Classen said. “His paintings are of people working with cotton, tobacco, hogs — his work was a history of Lenoir County.”

For years, Wooten’s work graced the walls of Classen’s practice, but these days the collection is a bit scattered.

“I used to have all of them, but over the years I’ve given some to my daughters, some are still in my office,” Classen said. “We’ve got a few at our vacation home in the mountains.”
One of the things Classen loved most about Wooten’s work was the almost mandatory inclusion of Bones the dog.

“He used to put his dog Bones into most of his paintings,” Classen said. “I once bought one that didn’t include Bones. I asked him about it and he went back and added him in for me.”
According to Edward Wooten, there are about 40 copies of Chick Wooten’s book of art still available, along with a few prints of his artwork.

“I loved Chick Wooten. It’s a real loss,” Classen said. “I don’t know how he was able to record all of those scenes from the past in his head and reproduce them.”


Biography from New Jersey Gallery:
Jurden "Chick" Wooten was a self-taught African-American painter who was born in rural North Carolina in 1930 and who was deeply affected by the life, ways and people of the "Old South". He painted with a high-keyed palette that showed exuberance, individual style and compelling images. Whatever the level of poverty of the figures often depicted, there is usually an uplifting, feel-good spirit that emanates from his paintings. Bitterness or anger do not appear to be part of his vocabulary. His work celebrates the simplicity, strength and customs of those he knew and observed in a style that is naive and yet bold, cogent and convincing.

He started painting when he moved in the late 1950s to Newark, N.J. where he worked for Hatfield Wire. He moved back to North Carolina around 1970 where he more fully developed his talent and inner vision.

He wrote a book entitled Pa Pa's Tracks: Days Back Yonder in which he chronicled part of his life and some of his work.

He died in North Carolina on June 27th,2011.

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