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Palmer Hayden

The Janitor Who Paints
about 1937
oil
39 1/8 x 32 7/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation

The artist's studio depicted here is actually a bedroom, furnished with bed, nightstand, and alarm clock. A scene such as this was familiar to Hayden, who took odd jobs and custodial work while pursing his artistic career. He maintained, however, that it pays homage to a friend and fellow painter, Cloyde Boykin, who was never recognized “because no one called him a painter; they called him a janitor.”