In August, American Folk Art & Framing (AFA) celebrates new work by one of its longtime artists in an exhibition titled Alabama Visionary Folk Artist: James ‘Buddy’ Snipe. The show opens in the gallery on Thursday, August 5, with an online preview on Tuesday, August 3, and continues through Thursday, August 19.
Born around 1945 in rural Alabama, Snipe has been creating since he was a small child growing up in a large family. He and his 11 older siblings collected twigs, bits of cloth, shards of glass and other detritus and Snipe created toys from them. An example is a piece called Bone Doll made from animal bones. Snipe would paint new outfits on the doll when his sisters were ready for a change. By the late 1970s, his colorful yard ornamentation began to attract the notice of folklorists and documentarians of the region. Snipe gained recognition when there was a burgeoning interest in southern folk art.
Snipe did not attend school long enough to learn to read or write and so, for his artwork, he draws upon an awareness of the world, his keen imagination and his love of making. His work has a personal element to it, says Betsey-Rose Weiss, gallery owner at AFA. “The artwork he creates is, for the most part, memories and moments that he is documenting in his own way,” she says. “Each shares a person, a story and, generally, a happy event that he wants to remember and share.”
While he does purchase the nails and enamel paint that he uses to produce his artwork, he continues, as in those childhood days, to collect such found materials as roofing tin, twigs and scraps of wood. “The common aspects of his materials don’t limit the narrative clearly found in each piece,” says Weiss. “His artwork continues to contain the innocence that his toys and early creations had.”
American Folk Art & Framing is located at 64 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit AmeriFolk.com or call 828.281.2134.