William Alvin Blayney

born Claysville, PA 1917-died Thomas, OK 1986
Also known as
  • William Blayney
  • William A. Blayney
  • Rev. William Blayney
Claysville, Pennsylvania, United States
Thomas, Oklahoma, United States
Active in
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

During the 1950s, Blayney lived in Pittsburgh and ran an automobile repair business. After a profound religious conversion, he left his wife and business, moved to Oklahoma, and began to paint. By the time he produced this mural [Mural No. GU-43752 (All Rights Reserved) 1997.124.6] he was supporting himself by driving a bulldozer even as he gained a local reputation as a Pentecostal preacher. He considered his art and preaching to be the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy.

Tom Patterson Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)

Luce Artist Biography

William Alvin Blayney grew up in a strict Methodist family in Pennsylvania. He left school after eighth grade and worked as an auto mechanic, eventually opening his own garage and repair shop near Pittsburgh. In the 1950s he began attending Bible meetings conducted by a local televangelist. A few years later, an argument with his wife influenced him to pack up and move to Thomas, Oklahoma, never to return to his family. He was ordained a Pentecostal minister and created detailed paintings inspired by biblical and world events to illustrate his teachings. (Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia, 1990)