29 January 2007

Outsider art, outside

Still home sick. The temp's down to 99.5, which is a more respectable public radio frequency. Should be back to work tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm blogging out of boredom...

-- B


About 15 years ago, I had a buddy, Gary, who collected folk art. So one weekend, four of us guys loaded up in a car and drove all up in central and north Alabama and northwest Georgia, so that he could buy some pieces from these artists. I think there was some beer involved.

I met Mose T (rest in peace, buddy), Howard Finster, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, and a couple of other folks. My friend had one Finster piece that was a 5-foot tall piece of wood cut like a Coca-Cola bottle. He gave us lots of insight through the weekend. Don't buy from Finster now, because the old guy had taken to using pens instead of paint, and there were rumors his kids were doing some of the work. When you buy from Mose, go to his house and see what colors he's got open while he's working -- so you can buy a piece with those colors and be sure you're getting his work. When we found Sudduth's place, the artist showed us a shed attached to his house. It was full of art. Gary went through and picked a few pieces to buy. I was blown away that there was this much cool art stacked up outside this little house.

So anyway, two weeks later I read something in a newspaper about an investor buying every one of Sudduth's pieces. I got angry. This guy was inflating the costs of the work, and he probably took advantage of Sudduth lack of business acumen. Mostly I was mad that no one else would get to pick through his stacks of work for the piece that struck them.

Seale, Ala., folk artist Butch Anthony was one of the first people I met when I moved to Columbus. Maybe because of that road trip 15 years ago, I've taken to folk art, or "outsider art." Well, we're near a hotbed of it, here in Columbus. Butch is joined by John Henry Toney and Buddy Snipes in Seale. Floria Yancey's over here on the Georgia side.

There are others. Anyone wanting to see what it's all about should check out Parading Chicks, a folk art gallery at 1145 First Avenue.

But for the most fun, pencil in the third Saturday of March, when Pittsview, Ala., will hold its annual Outsiders Outside Do-Nanny at The Mayor's Office. There's usually some cheap wine and cheese if you get there early, and BBQ sammiches for sale. And artists from the region and beyond. You can find details here. But really all you need to know is turn south on 431 and go about 20 miles.

Folk yeah!

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