Recycled folks- Art in

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2001

the eye of the beholder?


Features Editor

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Art comes in many forms and what some people consider art isn’t art at all by other standards.

Willie Smith doesn’t consider himself an artist and he doesn’t consider his "recycled folks" works of art, but the work he produces does turn heads – and vehicles.

Smith lives on County Road 59 and what started as a way to pass some time and to liven up Halloween for children along his highway has become an artistic display by some standards for "outsider" art.

Smith laughs at the idea that his "recycled folks" could be considered some form of art.

"They kind of look like scarecrows, but they’re not," he said. "They aren’t here to scare anybody, they’re just here to decorate the yard."

When cars come zooming around the curve and the occupants get a glimpse of Smith’s display, they do a double-take.

"Some people think it’s a yard full of folks," Smith said. "Like I’m having a family reunion or something. Sometimes, they’ll slam on brakes and stop dead in the road or sometimes they’ll go down the road a piece and turn around and come back. But they always look."

Smith has grown accustomed to having vehicles creep along the road in front of his house, and he isn’t even startled when car lights shine in his house at night. He knows it’s just someone viewing his work.

The "recycled folks" are all unique. Some are "grownup folks," some are "young’uns" and some are "old tuckered-out folks."

"I just take whatever is lying around the house, or the yard, or along the road and put it together to make something – or somebody," Smith said. "Some of them have balls for heads. Some of them have sacks or jugs. Just whatever I can find."

Smith puts his folks together with wire and strings and even a nail or two.

"I like to use that spongy stuff to make ’em whatever size I want," he said. "Some of ’em stand up and some of ’em sit down – just wherever I have a place for ’em."

Most people seem to enjoy Smith’s recycled "folk" art, and they watch for him to "drum up" another one. But the actions of some mischief makers have caused Smith to limit his display.

Someone stopped and took one of the recycled folks and stretched it out across the highway.

"Some people came driving by and it was dark and they thought somebody was lying in the road," Smith said. "They swerved to try and miss ’em and almost had a wreck. I was scared somebody might do something like that again, so I’ve stopped putting my folks out close to the road. I don’t want them to cause any trouble."

Smith said he plans to continue to design recycled folks and if somebody thinks they are art, that’s okay with him. If they don”t , that’s okay, too.

"It just gives me something to do with my time and it puts things to use that would have gone in the garbage," Smith said. "I don’t expect to make any money out of

’em. They are for my own pleasure and for the pleasure of those going by. That’s all" – folks.