Wednesday, August 17, 2011




By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA--This is where you learn to laugh again, or stand in awe of something reaching out from the sky. An alligator is flying, spewing fire from its mouth. Or, a bucolic scene speaks symbolically of things peaceful. Men and women, some from places you’ve never heard of, have their art works on display here in this huge exhibition hall just outside Atlanta, hoping to make a buck while making a new collector happy.

It’s Folk Fest 2011, the world’s largest folk art event, now celebrating many years of roaring success. Folk art is what this gathering is all about. These are the artists, wood carvers and sculptors who paint based on memories or inspiration from mysterious voices. You’ll find many reasons they create, but the common thread is that they are the outlaws of the art world. No lessons, no big promotions or agencies putting out the word on them. Just self taught men and women, mostly from the Deep South, who can tell a story through the power of their hands and imaginations.

“These artists,” said founder Steve Slotin,” do not seek out the art world. The art world seeks them. Everything here is produced by untrained people who draw on their culture and experiences in an isolated world; made with a true, untutored, creative passion. It’s raw, expressive, unconventional, nonconforming, genuine and truly original. Artistically acclaimed acceptance has caused this art form to blossom.”

The existence of this grass-roots art is threatened by the inevitable urbanization and population of formerly rural areas. Folk Fest serves to celebrate these artists, bring their works of art together, and share with the public the experience of a culture whose roots may soon disappear.

Join me here this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 19- 21, and we’ll meet some of the greats like Chris Clark of Birmingham, Missionary Mary Proctor and O. L. Samuels from Tallahassee, Lorenzo Scott, who lives in Atlanta and Rabun County’s spectacular Eric Legee. And don’t forget to bring the kids and your camera. This is Georgia’s best family affair, as much fun as a Braves game.

Folk Fest 2011

North Atlanta Trade Center
1700 Jeurgens Court
Norcross, Georgia 30093

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