An Independent Order of Odd Fellows Tracing Board, c. 1850–1900 from the Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art exhibition running now through May 8, 2016 at the American Folk Art Museum in New York.

More: As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930

Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs.

The Pennsylvania Dutch were actually Germans. Their “hex signs” were painted on barns, carved into furniture, and hammered on to utensils. They were thought to bring luck, love, and abundance. and ward off misfortune such as fire and lightening. Hex signs were originally called “sech circles,” because the first ones all included six-pointed star in a circle. The Pennsylvania Dutch call them “Hexerie” or “Jinks”. They are usually painted in bright colors. These designs are just a few.

The Unicorn Hex:  Strength and courage to strive for your goals; virtue; love; faith, hope and charity.
The Six-Pointed Lobe Hex: All the kinds of love, and protection of them.
The Lucky Star Hex: Each color symbolizes luck, in many things: lucky in love, lucky in fortune, lucky in friendship, lucky in your job, etc. Also protection against fire.
The Oak Leaf Hex: Strength in body, mind, and character. The scalloped border represents smooth sailing in life.
The Health Hex: Protection of your health from all disease. The various diseases are represented by different colors in the rosette.
The Distlefink Hex: Good Luck, love, and happiness. Often put on new houses: insures a happy household, especially if it has a blue background. The tulips mean faith, hope, and charity.
The Triple, Five-Pointed Star of Luck, Love, and Happiness Hex: Also strong protection against fires.

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Looking at the painting above, it’s easy to imagine the artist spent days, weeks maybe, observing the rain forest to get the details right. Off to the right, a large bird perches on a branch. Turtles and fish swim in the river. Several species of trees reach upward, vying for light through the forest canopy.

The artist painted it all by memory.

These paintings by Abel Rodriguez are on display at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington D.C., as part of the Waterweavers exhibition, a celebration of Colombian culture. And his work has captured the attention of art dealers and curators, both in Colombia and here in the U.S.

Adriana Ospina, the collections curator, tells Rodriguez’s story as she leads me through the exhibition. He’s a member of the Nonuya indigenous people, from the Caqueta River region of Colombia, close to the rain forest, who have been farmers for centuries. “His role in the community is to know the plants,” she says. “He’s like a teacher.” Rodriguez’s knowledge, she says, comes from a combination of observation and wisdom passed down from generation to generation.

A Self-Taught Artist Paints The Rain Forest By Memory

Top photo: This is one of 12 rain forest landscapes by Abel Rodriguez, part of his ink-and-watercolor series Ciclo anual del bosque de la vega (Seasonal changes in the flooded rain forest). Credit: Abel Rodriguez/Courtesy of Tropenbos International, Colombia

Bottom photo: Abel Rodriguez showed off his basket-weaving skills at the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Credit: Courtesy of Victoria Pickering/Flickr

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The Captivating Imagery Of America’s Oldest Secret Societies

“The Templars and the Freemasons believed that the treasure was too great for any one man to have, not even a king,” FBI special agent Sadusky proclaims in the film “National Treasure.” “That’s why they went to such lengths to keep it hidden.”

Real treasure hunters show where secret history and folk art intersect.

Since becoming a mother, artist Deedee Cheriel has considered how to bring more positivity into the world with her art. Her upcoming exhibition at KP Projects/MKG in Los Angeles, “Natural Resource”, combines her folk art and spiritual influences with new experiences of family life. In theme, the exhibit seems to pick up where she left off with her previous spiritually inspired show, “In Search for More Than Another Shiny Object”. Covered here, those paintings explored the enlightenment of meditation and prayer. Her new series of mixed media works expands on this to include temple imagery and mythological characters from the artist’s native India.

See more on Hi-Fructose.