C. Carey Cloud

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Brown County Artists by Lee Cloud

This morning I took a walk across and up the road to the studio of Carey Cloud, one of my favorite people, related to me as you might guess, my father-in-law.

Carey Cloud is a kindly, quiet spoken man with more friends than one could shake a stick at. He has come to success in his life through one of the best schools, the one of hard knocks. He is a self-taught man and has pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, this has mellowed him.

Carey Cloud was born just south of Warren, Indiana, in Wells County. He began sketching at the age of 6. At the age of 12 he became conscious of the fact that he was seriously interested in art. When in grammar school, he acquired some water colors and went from sketching to painting. He went through his first year of high school and became restless. He wanted to paint and school was an interference. He was anxious to go out on his own. His beginning was a meager one; he worked in a shoe factory and at this time took a correspondence art course and struggled to make the four dollar a month payments. He then worked at a piano factory. It was while he was working here that he married and also began his life in the commercial art world.

His first project was doing commercial folders for the State Forestry Department, and still sketched during his spare time. Carey Cloud was restless, he knew that he must look further, so he left the piano factory and went to Fort Wayne, Indiana. There he got a job doing commercial lettering at an engraving house. This gave him experience and a step further but it still wasn't the thing that he was searching for, his heart wasn't in it. His employer told him that he was no artist and to go back to the piano factory. The job was too cut and dried for Carey.

The Clouds stayed in Fort Wayne only a few months and then went to Cleveland. Carey Cloud was still searching. This time his interests turned strongly to the art of cartooning. He haunted the newspaper offices, once in a while he sold a cartoon; due to his persistence he got a job with the Cleveland Press. He was a cartoonist there for over two years, then went to an advertising agency for one year.

All this time Carey Cloud was learning the various types of art and gaining experience. He then took a step further up the ladder and began drawing illustrations and was now ready for bigger things. He went to Chicago to be more available to the publishers of Redbook and Bluebook, and soon after that moved to New York, but this move was in vain.

Mr. Cloud then acquired a job in a greeting card house as art director and remained there for two years. Then he learned of Brown County. It was just before the depression in 1928 and times were hard for everyone. Carey brought his family here to stay. He had a difficult time until 1933. He then sold a comic strip to a newspaper syndicate, the main character, Luke Barker, a fence rail philosopher from the hills. It became popular and was put on the radio in serial form and heard three times a week. Carey Cloud played Luke Barker. Then the depression really hit the country and the program was cancelled, the sponsor couldn't afford it.

Carey Cloud then went to Chicago again, this time alone. He peddled his artwork on the street. He did pieces of artwork and sold them for three dollars. They were worth much more, but he had to have money to eat and to send back to his family in Indiana. Carey Cloud soon became better known for his work and eventually rented a studio. His commercial artwork mounted and he soon had an account with the Campfire Marshmallow Company, owned by the Crackerjack firm.

Then in 1937 Carey Cloud came into his own. The Crackerjack firm needed someone to design gadgets for their crackerjack boxes. Who else but Carey: So he took on the job and has been doing it ever since. He has been called the "Year Round Santa Claus" because of his delightful gadgets put in every Crackerjack box. This took him out of the field of commercial art and into the world of premiums. He went into it with gusto and enthusiasm. He designed prizes and premiums for twenty-four years, for such firms as Cocowheats. Superman gadgets, and Post cereals. He is still doing premiums to this day.

Carey Cloud's heart has always been here in Brown County. In 1947 he bought the Will Vawter home and came here to live, sort of semi-retired, he told me smiling. He has been a member of the Palette and Chisel Club of Chicago for twenty years, and the Chicago Art Guild for twenty years, at one time was vice-president. He has been a member of the Art Gallery here since 1950 and three times president. Mr. Cloud is still a guiding force in the planning, building, and progress of the Gallery. He is far from semi-retired, other than his artwork and premiums, he sells real estate from his purchased property.

Carey cloud has exhibited at the Art Gallery, the Colonial Room, the Hoosier Salon in Chicago, the Palette and Chisel Club, and many travelling exhibits. He has works hanging in many private collections, among them, the Ford collection. He prefers no particular type of painting and likes to experiment. His paintings tell a story. My favorite one is called "Moonshine Mountain." It is a moonlight setting and in the foreground is a tree stump on which stands a jug, not empty, and a little squirrel is sitting nearby looking wonderingly at it. There is a story to this, as there are to a lot of Carey's paintings.

When moonshine liquor was prevalent, the makers were most wary of getting caught. They subsequently thought of a system of exchange. They would place the jug of liquor at a certain place and the buyer would go to that place, collect the jug and replace it with the given amount of the sale. This was the system. This painting even though the origin is whimsical is quite beautiful.

Carey Cloud's paintings do have a touch of humor, but they are also full of warmth and pathos. His recent portrait of the "Whimsical Clown" is delightful.

After a long and enjoyable talk with Carey Cloud, I left for home, one of the many enjoyable talks we've had in the past I might add. You see, he is my favorite Father-in-Law.

C. Carey Cloud - Brown County Artists - by Lee Cloud

C. Carey Cloud