Elvis, the Artist, and Pink Cadillac

Donald Paterson (born 1944)
Paint, pencil, and watercolor on paper, c. 1992

Smithsonian American Art Museum; gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment

Donald Paterson is a developmentally disabled visionary artist. Like Howard Finster, Paterson incorporates images of Elvis into much of his work. In Elvis, the Artist, and Pink Cadillac, Paterson brings into play the legendary pink Cadillac with Elvis behind the wheel; the artist also places himself in the scene, beside the car.

Although Paterson has a limited speaking vocabulary, his artwork contains a lexicon of epic-style imagery, including the pyramids of Egypt, an apple tree, an American flag, beautiful women, and several pieces of exotic architecture. The artist lives in Berkeley, California, and works from the studios of Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland.