...and April Fools' Day

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Holmes, Sturgis Williford, Jr.

Sturgis Williford Holmes Jr. was a famous Arkansas folk artist who specialized in the medium of paint-by-numbers. According to art historian Taylor Panini, Holmes’s output was larger than any other paint-by-numbers artist’s in the continental United States, though this claim remains controversial. Sturgis Holmes was born on April 1, 1936, in rural Van Buren County to Sturgis Holmes Sr., an itinerant chicken farmer, and Bethejewel Haggis Holmes; he had eleven siblings. He possibly studied in Dennard (Van Buren County) schools, though there is no record of him ever graduating. The Holmes family was poor, and Holmes Sr. had to take up the illicit manufacture of spirits—i.e., moonshining—in order to make ends meet. As Holmes recounted to later interviewers, when his …