The Painted Screen Society of Baltimore

 A Baltimore Tradition since 1913

You see out. No one sees in. 

Estelle Figinski at her painted screen door

What is a Painted Screen?

Painted screens are canvases with holes. Imagine a window or door screen with a picture painted on the exterior side only. The paint does not cover or clog the holes. The colorful image stops the gaze of people on the sidewalk from seeing inside the darkened room. The view to the street from the house is unobstructed. The screen still functions perfectly for ventilation and as a barrier to flying insects. The one way effect does not work when a light source is in the room.  Originally made of woven wire mesh, stretched and framed in wood, later metal or vinyl, screens are now made in a wide variety of materials. 

Only in Baltimore?

Rowhouses, attached homes sharing common walls, fill thousands of blocks of this major American city. The homes' windows face the street at eye level.  They provide the perfect outdoor gallery.  Only in Baltimore could you walk the streets of a living museum, and enjoy examples of the unique art form found on window and door screens throughout historic, primarily eastside communities. Painted screens are an authentic urban folk art, created, displayed and beloved here since 1913.

William Oktavec, a Czech grocer, introduced his iconic “Red Bungalow” scene in 1913. Painted screens were found on almost every window and door in entire neighborhoods of the city during most of the twentieth century, and can be found today scattered throughout the region and country.

The Painted Screen Society

The Painted Screen Society of Baltimore, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) educational organization whose mission is to preserve screen painting and rowhouse arts throughout Baltimore's neighborhoods. 

The Society was founded in 1985 by folklorist Elaine Eff and screen painter Dee Herget.  At that time, dozens of artists were still active, but worked independently, unaware that each was a part of a community of traditional artists. Although everyone knew about the competition, few of the screen painters had ever met one another.  In 1983 we began to gather and exchange ideas. Originally conceived as a guild for practicing screen painters, by popular demand, the Society became a membership organization of ardent supporters, neighbors and relocated Baltimoreans.

The Book

Want to know everything there is about painted screens? 
Buy the only book on the subject.
Now in its second reprinting: 265 pages, 300 illustrations, only $35
Available from University Press of Mississippi,, and fine book stores.
Image result for web page under construction 
Please visit us at www.Painted

We apologize,  this website  is currently under construction.  Please go to Painted Screens. org  to view the official website. 


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