Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In the heart of folk art



Call them folk, visionary, self-taught or outsider artists. Birmingham is one top place for finding them.

I’ve long been a fan, and with a free afternoon, I tracked down two of Birmingham’s best.

Chris Clark, started quilting in the late 1980s after a bout with diabetes put him in the hospital. It was a craft at which his grandmother and great grandmother excelled. But rather than simply sew together pieces of fabric, Clark painted pictures on them as well.

His grandmother scoffed --but changed her mind when one of his big quilts sold for $1,000.

Like many self-taught artists, Clark uses “found’’ objects – discarded furniture, buttons, soda cans, beads, machine parts – to create paintings, pastiches, hats, sculptures and his signature quilts. Many are reflections of dreams and childhood memories.

He’s a delightful man who loves his art so much that parting with them takes effort. Eventually, most make their way to folk art shows, galleries and private collectors. You can find him at the Kentuck Show the third week of October in Northport, Ala., or online at www.chrisclarkart.com.

Joe Minter sees the world as a continuum heading down a sad path. Like so many men in Birmingham, when the factories closed up Minter was out of work. Nearly two decades ago he asked the Lord for a vision, and that turned him to art.

The result is his African Village surrounding his Birmingham home. At first it may look like a jumble of rambling signs and mismatched metals topped with throwaway toys. But take the tour with Joe, and you’ll soon see that this is conceptual art imbued with sophisticated commentary on slavery, war, the struggle for civil rights and what’s wrong with America. Put it at Art Basel, and it would hold up against works from cutting-edge artists.

Joe doesn’t know Art Basel or installations or conceptual art. He just knows what the Spirit of the Lord has inspired him to do to make the world a better place. “Everything on earth is in harmony except for us, people,’’ he says. “I want to leave a message for the next person.’’

Joe and his wife, Hilda, can be reached at 205-322-7370. Be prepared to spend some time, and to buy his self-published book, To You Through Me, $27.77.






PHOTOS: Top, Chris Clark. Above, Joe Minter at this African Village, home to his tribute to the World Trade Center victims.

4 comments:

ilovefolkart said...

heres a great Alabama folk artist
A sharecropper's daughter ~ Places Of The Past
bjtgo@yahoo.com

« jessie lavon's Gallery (Uncategorized)
A Southern Folk Artist:My art is in collections and Museums in the U.S.A,Canada and Europe. It has been written up in INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINES LIKE RAW VISION AND SOUTHERN LADY as well as being shown at the Huntsville Museum along with the art of Grand Ma Moses and Norman Rockwell. I have shown at the Atlanta Folk Fest and at Kentuck with International artist like Lisa Cain, Woddy Long, Jimmy Lee Suddeth. On Sept 23,after the death of my beloved Mother who died in my arms, I said good by to a 30 year art caree as a folk artist on the art circuit to sell and paint as a Independent folk artist , So come and travel the road back to my childhood days where the late afternoon drifts into long shadows and where I paint the memories of my days gone by. my family canning,making moon shine, the chain gang,working in the fields.email me with orders and questions.


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Artist: jessie lavon Contact Artist

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Rael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rael said...

Real folk art is truly light years
away from fine art.
Nevertheless, isnt it amazing that both--and not only
one above the other--can convey the
same power?
folk art and art glass