An introduction to ‘A

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2000

Celebration of Alabama Art’


Features Editor

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On Sept. 4, Pike Countians will be invited to a "Celebration of Art" at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

During the 6 to 8 p.m. reception and exhibition, guests will be treated to the variety of work being done by Alabama artists, said Eva Green, curator of the Alabama Art Exhibition.

"Already we have an outstanding collection of works by Alabama artists," Green said. "In time, the number of pieces will grow into the Alabama Art Museum, which

should be one of the best of its kind. We want everyone to see and know what an asset the museum will be for our county. It will be a major tourist attraction and will bring national and international recognition to Troy, Pike County and the state of Alabama."

At the "Celebration" the works of more than 20 artists will be exhibited. Some are local artist who are well known in this area. Others are familiar and some are not known at all.

"Before the "Celebration of Art with Pike County," we would like to introduce the artists to our community so our people will have a deeper appreciation of them and their talents when they attend the celebration and see, for themselves, the outstanding quality of work being done and the diversity of the mediums," Green said.

She expressed appreciation to Rick Reynolds, publisher of The Messenger,

for agreeing to preview the artists in editions of the newspaper prior to

the "Celebration."

Green said two of the most familiar names, other than local artists, are probably Mose Tolliver and Kathryn Tucker Windham.

"They probably need the least amount of introduction, but we do want to begin our preview with them," she said.

Mose Tolliver, or Mose T., is a native of Montgomery. He was born the 12th child of sharecropping parents.

"Mose T. worked at different jobs in the Montgomery area until a load of marble fell from a forklift and crushed his ankle and damaged muscles in both legs. He has been on crutches since that time," Green said.

As luck, or fate, would have it, Mose T.’s former employer was an amateur painter and he encouraged Tolliver to try his hand at painting and suggested he take a painting class.

"Mose T. wisely decided not to take a class and, instead, started teaching himself," Green said. "He used house paint and painted on plywood, Masonite panels, boxes, pieces of furniture – anything he could find. He framed his paintings with a border of paint and hung them by soda pop tabs."

The artist’s paintings quickly caught the fascination of all those who saw them. His images of birds, flowers, trees and watermelons, painted against a plain background and his fanciful representations of recognizable individuals and places are valued among collectors.

Green said Tolliver is influenced only by his soul, a genetic memory and a turbulent past, and he has gained the reputation as one of the great folk artists of his time.

Those who attend the "Celebration" might be surprised to find Kathryn Tucker Windham among the artists.

She is highly regarded as a storyteller, especially of ghost stories and most people know her in connection with Jeffery and 13 Alabama Ghosts. Windham is that – and more.

"Kathryn Tucker Windham is an outstanding storyteller, writer and photographer," Green said. "She got her first camera, a Brownie, when she was 12 years old and began taking pictures of everyday, ordinary things and people. She was fascinated that the images she took would be forever changeless."

Over the years, Windham acquired more sophisticated equipment, but the subjects that lured her remained the same.

"She said as she grew older she became more aware of the countryside and the dignity of handed-down customs," Green said. "So, she continues to take pictures of tenant houses, homecomings at rural churches, country stores, family picnics, baptizings in flowing creeks, Confederate reunions, Sacred Harp singings and even frizzled chickens. Kathryn Tucker Windham is preserving the past through her photography so that others may see scenes that are fast fading from view – even from the eye of the camera."

Green said she hopes that Pike Countians will prepare themselves to really "Celebrate Alabama Art" by reading about the artists whose works are providing the seed for the Alabama Art Museum.

Editors note: See Thursday’s Messenger for thumbnail sketches of Charlie Lucas, sculptor and painter, and Yvonne Wells, quilter.