Self-taught mixed media artist Eric ‘Erikus Maximus’ Cunningham is gaining a reputation for the art he creates from recycled materials in his folk art garage studio. He is the solo featured artist of Appalachian Disasterpieces, showcased throughout the month in the F.W. Gallery at Woolworth Walk. There will be an opening reception where guests can meet and talk with him on Friday, July 7, from 5–7 p.m.
“I have always been a fan of southern-inspired themes, the people, the heritage, the customs and the weirdness that make our area unique,” he says. “I am excited to have this show at Woolworth Walk and I hope that by being a featured artist, more people will be able to enjoy my artwork.”
The exhibit will include some twodozen pieces of work, Cunningham says. “I will have everything from guitars made from recycled bottle caps, US maps made from license plates, Appalachian-inspired acrylic paintings of serpent handlers, hillbilly recipes and possum-themed artwork.”
Where he lives in Bristol, on the Tennessee/Virginia state line, friends and acquaintances often drop by Cunningham’s garage studio bringing bags of bottle caps, license plates, house paint and various other items to be used on future art projects. “When people donate these art supplies and see a piece I made using something they gave me, they feel like they helped in the creation process,” he says. “They love looking at a piece and saying, ‘Hey, I drank some of those beers!’ or ‘That license plate was on my old car.’”
Cunningham is one of the artists featured in the new book When the Spirit Speaks: Self-Taught Art of the South by Margaret Day Allen. Although his collector base includes folk art enthusiasts and galleries throughout the nation and several different countries, he says viewers’ reactions to his work range from “oohs and ahhs to ugh. Some immediately fall in love with my style, while others simply do not get the humor.”
F.W. Gallery at Woolworth Walk is located at 25 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. Gallery Hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m to 5 p.m. For more information, call 828.254.9234 or visit woolworthwalk.com.