The work of the artists in the Folk Art and Friendly Folk exhibit, opening Sunday, 1:30 – 3:30, at the Union County Heritage Museum, can be described as primitive, traditional, untrained, Americana, whimsical, naïve, eccentric, outsider and visionary. And in the cases of the artists they are self-taught and self-made as in the American tradition.
Each artist is unique in their style, creativity and materials.
Clyde McDowell, Union County resident of the New Harmony community, sees possibilities in the old wood of barns and dilapidated buildings. The grayed wood, along with his found objects come together as great-eyed birds and whimsical faces, interesting mounts, and fossilized fish. His use of structure with the unique objects that he has collected brings a new sense of the object. Past efforts of McDowell brought together the whimsical totem poles that grace the landscape near his home and in the rural area surrounding. His large birds observe passers-by with a stoic artfulness that causes drivers to put on their brakes and put it in reverse to get a better look.
John Steele Davis of Water Valley, well known for his flowing wood creations, makes furniture, musical instruments and many other well-crafted objects all unique with the lines of the wood flowing in the way nature made it. Twisted, gnarled wood, Davis turns into stunning pieces of art.
Jeanette Stone from Potts Camp is a familiar sight at Heritage Pioneer Days as she shows visitors how to spin and weave. Her work in felting, weaving and natural dyes creates textiles that are wonderfully homespun and expertly crafted. She also works with gourds, creating lamps, musical instruments and critters and characters.
Brad Smith, metal artists from Jug Fork Junk, brings to life creatures and people from cast-off plows and metal objects once destined for recycling. With his Jug Fork Junk he creates whimsical faces from cast-offs bringing smiles to onlookers.
Dee Thompson of Benton County is a folk painter who brings to life rural scenes on canvas. She approaches Christmas by making her own card scenes.
Doyle Caviness is a fisherman at heart. He sees the beauty in the minute by looking at things from a fish’s perspective. Caviness, a Ripley native now living in Union County, ties flies for fly fishing and for bass and bream fishing. His tiny but expertly and beautifully crafted flies mimic nature in many ways. Caviness has also added a new hobby to his art – water color paintings, reflecting his love of nature and fishing.
Ship Chandler of New Albany, a woodcarver, finds a curved vine or a piece of antler and bone and sees lots of possibilities. His walking canes reflect nature and his carving knife. His simple approach to making walking canes lets the beauty of form strike the eye of the beholder.
Ralph Barnes, metal worker from the Corinth area, steps back in time for some of his inspirations. The late Cretaceous Period in fact has inspired a large T Rex with the bent tines of an old rake for its large teeth and wrenches for claws. His work is funny, quirky and sometimes larger than life.
The exhibit will close March 20.