"A Man and His Hog"
United States, ca. 1890
82 x 55 x 39 cm
Carved, painted wood w/ iron accoutrements
Folk artists in America captured many of the byways in social and cultural progress which were ignored by commercial media. This primitive sculpture, for example, is the only known record of the efforts of Harley Ryder of Ventgas, Arkansas, to develop a line of riding swine. Ryder's logic was impeccable: his pigs were smart, strong enough to carry a human rider, easily saddle-broken and much cheaper to maintain than a horse. He envisioned the nation adopting his cheap, go-anywhere form of transportation, and even talked about setting up the Ozark Downs racetrack in Ventgas for the entertainment of the gentry.
Ryder's dreams were shattered by the invention of the automobile. His stables were foreclosed and his beloved "Harleys" sold to a meat-packing concern. His reputation ruined, he wound up broken man in the Bagasse county poorhouse, where he died heartbroken in 1917 after failing to invent the edible motorcycle.