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Winter Park Library Archive

1949 ~ 1977

In 1949 Earl Cunningham moved to 51-55 St. George Street, St. Augustine, Florida and established the Over Fork Gallery. His landlady, close friend, and patron was Theresia (Tese) Paffe. The Gallery/antique store had bottles, hardware, old greeting cards, and assorted odds and ends for sale. From time-to-time he allowed selected visitors to view his paintings which were housed in his large workroom.

In 1961 he sent his painting "The Everglades" to Jacqueline Kennedy at the White House and received a thank you letter through her secretary, Lelitla Baldridge. The painting is at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Boston, Ma.

On his business card of 1968 he identified himself as a "Primitive Artist". In 1969 Marilyn Logsdon Wilson (now Mennello) and
her friend Jane Dart discovered Cunningham's work, and he reluctantly allowed each of them to purchase one of his paintings.

As a result of Marilyn Mennello's enthusiasm for Cunningham's work, he had his first one-man exhibition in the summer of 1970, at the Loch Haven Art Center in Orlando (now the Orlando Museum of Art). More than 200 of his paintings were included in a show at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida in August 1974.

On August 15, 1975 Cunningham counted in his possession 330 pictures, "all in frames," and on June 3, 1976, he noted that 405 paintings were "on hand now".

Despite increasing recognition and prolific production, Cunningham shot himself to death on December 29, 1977