|Painting by Missionary Mary Proctor|
By Doc Lawrence
NORCROSS, Ga-No better event any time of year. But during summer’s Dog Days, Folk Fest, the annual celebration showcasing over 100 galleries exhibiting the works of America’s self-taught artists in air conditioned comfort has little competition. It’s one of the proven ways to beat the heat, have fun with friends and family at a budget friendly price. Folk Fest, now celebrating 21 years and billed as the world’s largest indoor folk art show, has become one of the most popular events in the South.
Visitors to the Atlanta area this weekend can expect more joy from the colorful, family friendly paintings, wood carvings, face jugs and decorated found objects. Folk Fest often hooks adults and children with the magic that comes from talking to artists and gallery owners. It’s contagious, like a celebration loaded with joy.
Folk Fest provided thousands the opportunity to meet Reverend Howard Finster, the sage of Summerville, Georgia who painted according to God’s instructions. The great Myrtice West began painting scenes based on the Book of Revelations after her daughter was murdered. O. L. Samuels, once a prizefighter from rural South Georgia, said he could walk through the woods and certain sticks and fallen limbs would “talk," He took them home, carved images based on these messages with a pocketknife. Each artist has works in the Smithsonian and Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.
Many of the artists are from highly inaccessible parts of the rural South. Their art is inspired by spirits and an environment most would never experience. Homogenization of their culture hasn’t yet happened. Many, however, are on up in the years and their talents will drift away as they leave this planet. America and in particular the Deep South will be the lesser.
Parking is free. Talented musicians perform crowd-pleasing blues. Food and beverages are available. The facility is very comfortable and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything other than smiling faces.
North Atlanta Trade Center
1700 Jeurgens Ct. Norcross, Georgia (I-85 & Indian Trail Rd. Exit 101)