Unlocking History

Behind the Photo: SF Giants artwork from Folsom Prison

A stamped piece of copper shows a cartoon character wearing a baseball uniform. In the background is an areal photo of Folsom Prison.
When an art piece turned up recently, the question came about as to where the art originated. Inside CDCR traced it to the Folsom Prison Art Show of 1967.

A piece of San Francisco Giants artwork, believed to have been purchased at an art show, turned out to be the work of an artist at Folsom State Prison.

The artwork was a metal sheet pressed with the image of the old San Francisco Giants mascot, “Madcap.” A piece of paper on the back of the art read, “Inns, J., Madcap, 10.00, .40, Folsom Art Show, 79439, copper, 10.40, 1967.” There are also the numbers 31 and 2. The year 1968 is written to the side but it’s scratched out.

Recognizing the set of five numbers as most likely that of an incarcerated artist, Inside CDCR began digging up more information.

A yellowed piece of paper on the back of the art read, "Inns, J., Madcap, 10.00, .40, Folsom Art Show, 79439, copper, 10.40, 1967." There are also the numbers 31 and 2. The year 1968 is written to the side but it's scratched out.
The label on the back of the artwork read “Inns, J” and “Madcap” with 79349 and other clues including 1967 and “Folsom Art Show.”

Verifying the event

After some research, it was clear the Folsom Art Show referred to an annual fundraiser put on by the prison. Artwork created by incarcerated artists at Folsom prison were sold to help raise money for the Stockton Children’s Home.

According to the Oakland Tribune, 1967 marked the 10th year for the Spring Arts and Crafts Show “at the prison’s Larkin Hall just outside the prison gate.”

More than 1,000 paintings, sculptures and other art objects were displayed for three days. Some of the show’s winners that year included Milo Dwight Lee, Richie Galvan, Pete Sanchez, Verne Franklin, Will Holder, Jack Bass, Bruce Coggeshall and John Calvert. Categories ranged from water color and oil paints to sculpture and copper.

A three-member panel of judges ranked the art. They included longtime artist and newspaper publisher Bud Pisarek, as well as art professors Fred Bullock of the University of California and William MacArthur of American River College.

The prison’s craft supervisor was Bud Hannaford.

Examples of other Folsom prison artwork

A quick search turned up a similar art piece, a clown pressed into copper and painted. The back of the piece had a slip of paper very similar to the one of Madcap. It read, “Folsom Prison, Folsom Calif., Feb. 1970, Painted by an Inmate of the Prison.” In one corner was the series of numbers, “71940.”

Who was Bud Hannaford?

George Earl “Bud” Hannaford oversaw the crafts department at Folsom State Prison for 36 years but began his career as a correctional officer. In 1950, he was assigned as Handicraft Manager on a full-time basis.

In a 1970 newspaper article, Hannaford was described as the man who started the Folsom Prison crafts program. Enrollment in the program went from 50 to 750.

There were no art instructors as inmates either taught each other or learned on their own.

With so many involved, Hannaford said, “You can’t get in and teach. It’s just impossible.” In 1970, 35 inmate participants filed income tax returns because their art sales surpassed the filing threshold.

According to “The History of Folsom Prison, 1878-1978,” Hannaford “initiated the prison’s first art show, which (became) a tradition, being held in the spring and fall of each year. The May 1977 art show grossed $53,552.48; the October show took in $35,574.39. It should be noted that Hannaford is assisted by several employees, or wives of employees, who donate their time in arranging the art work for the shows and also act as cashiers during the shows.”

The book, written by Michael D. “Red” Brown, praises Hannaford’s efforts. “The hundreds of men who came to Folsom during the past quarter century, without the funds to get started in the handicraft program, owe ‘Bud’ Hannaford, who loaned or donated the materials, a debt that can never be repaid.”

In the community, he also served 20 years on the Folsom City Council with two terms as mayor.

Hannaford passed away in 2009.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

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