Harold Kelly




Bucyrus, Ohio


Primitive landscape, rural scene

Naive western genre and landscape painter Harold Osman Kelly, was born on March 6, 1884 in Bucyrus, Ohio. The pattern of Kelly’s later life was apparently established in his youth by the roving, gypsy life he led with his family in moves to Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Nicknamed “H. O.” or “Cowboy,” Kelly’s later life would be little changed.

He left home early, enthused by the lore of the American West, with dreams of making a living on horseback. He worked in thirty states, including Arizona, Nebraska, Wyoming, Arkansas and Oklahoma, as a cowboy, sheepherder, cowhand, logger, bullwhacker, grainfield and cottonfield worker, sharecropper, and, occasionally, rodeo rider.

Jerry Bywaters, director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, arranged a one-man exhibition of Kelly’s work in 1950, when he also invited him to serve as artist-in-residence at the museum during the State Fair of Texas, a position he held annually until his death.