Historic Apalachicola

Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and Art

FOLK FANTASTIC___The Collection of Lee and Randy Sewell Featuring Charlie "The Tin Man" Lucas

Exhibited folk art from February 04, 2016 – April 02, 2016  

Meet and Greet Lee and Randy Sewell and Charlie Lucas at Opening Night Reception Saturday, February 13, 2016 from 6-8 pm

Long before self-taught artists’ works entered the collectable hot zone, Lee and Randy Sewell had welcomed hundreds of handmade creations into their Atlanta and St. George Island homes.  Randy began collecting contemporary folk art at estate sales.  He has hundreds of whirligigs, decorative objects that spin in the wind, and hundreds of birdhouses. For fun, Randy builds fanciful birdhouses shaped like quirky American roadside attractions that popped up in the ‘40s and ‘50s: chili bowl-shaped restaurants, aluminum-sided diners, and more.  Lee enjoys rustling through flea markets but isn’t as prodigious a collector as Randy.  Even at sixty miles an hour,Randy Sewell can spot American folk art.  He scours lawns telltale signs of the self-taught artist: whitewashed tire fencing, painted tree trunks, or funky garden ornaments.  A collector since the ‘70s, Randy purchased some of his twig furniture collection right off people’s front porches. His collection includes miniature twig chairs, probably made as doll furniture. Sometimes, repeat visits are needed to seal a deal.  But by that point, Randy has collected more than folk art, he is connected with another artist. 


Many of Charlie Lucas’s sculptures stand along a rural road and in the fields around his house. His art is a convergence of the techniques of the blacksmith, the quilter, and the basket maker in his life.  He is a modern day root sculpture.  But because the hands of his male antecedents bent, twisted, and hammered horseshoes, wagon wheels, and automobile engines, Lucas’s creations grow from the junk heaps of the industrial age.  Charlie Lucas Born in 1951, said, “I only bring metal home that I see something in.  I don’t just collect junk, I look for pieces with character in them, and they show themselves to me.”  His art was exhibited at the Mint Gallery in Atlanta in Feb and March of 2015.

Born in 1944, Richard Burnside paints kings, queens, tigers, wolves, and cats that are allegorical expressions of the African American cultural experience.  The figures in his paintings are often surrounded by snakes, symbols or bugs he calls the “Roman Alphabet.” The cat’s meow, a kitty painted on a grocery sack, hangs in Lee and Randy’s bedroom. Mr. Burnside’s art was exhibited at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

James Harold Jennings, born in 1930, carved and painted wood since he was a young child, but for the last decade of his life, he worked at his art with a full passion.  He said that his work, whirligigs, brightly painted ferris wheels, Amazon Women, angels, turtles, birds and imaginary creatures, was inspired by religion.  But not the traditional type. Rather, his inspirations came from experiences with “astral projection and metempsychosis.”  Jennins’ work was influenced by dreams, visions, and his occasional reading material.  Calling himself the “sun, moon and star artist,” he frequently incorporated these symbols of nature in his works and included them with his signature. Before he died in 1999, he was “discovered by the big people—the museums come here now and want my work.  People buy it as fast as I can make it.”

Born in 1904, Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Perkins traveled around the world as a merchant marine, guarded the White House under Coolidge, and became an evangelist who traveled and preached revivals throughout the United states.  His art studio in Alabama was filled with mottos and objects he painted using Red, White and Blue everywhere.  His unique style had an exotic but genuine mix of patriotism and religious fervor.  At the time of his death in 1993, he was painting ten large sections of a tree trunk, cut down on his property to depict his “Ten Commandments for Successful Daily Living.”  


Posted Thursday, 01/21/16, 01:29 PM - Comments -

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