Folk art has long history at TroyFest

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019

At different locations throughout the region, artists are packing their wares in anticipation of their participation in the 2019 TroyFest arts festival in Troy this weekend.

Morgan Drinkard, TroyFest co-chair, said preparations are underway locally for the annual arts festival. Soon downtown Troy will be teeming with activity as the TroyFest Committee makes preparations for more than 100 artists and food vendors to set up booths in and around the square.

“We are looking for another successful arts festival,” Drinkard said. “The TroyFest Committee is confident that 2019 TroyFest will be one of the best. We  have outstanding artists who work in a wide range of mediums and our vendors will have all of the favorite festival foods. Of course, downtown Troy is such a great place to visit and shop so it’s the perfect place for  TroyFest and to honor one of Troy’s own artists, the late Jean Lake.”

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Drinkard said the annual arts festival began as the Jean Lake Festival and it continues to be held in memory of Jean Lake who lived and created in Troy.

Because Jean Lake was a “primitive” artist, Drinkard said the festival always has a strong presence in the folk arts.

“The Jean Lake Folk Art category is important to the festival because the history of our festival is rich in folk artists,” Drinkard said. “I believe people in the Troy community have an appreciation for and also understand the value of folk art. We always want folk art to be an integral part of TroyFest.”

Eight folk artists will participate in 2019 TroyFest and that number includes several artists who are new to the festival.

Cracker Jack Harris will be a new face at the festival. He is from Birmingham and has shown his work at Kentuck Festival of the Arts in Northport.

Drinkard said Harris uses weathered textures of concrete, rust and wood to make his art.

“Cracker Harris paints scenes and landscapes inspired by the pages of southern literature icons,” she said.

This year will also be Bob McGill’s first year at TroyFest. The Signal Mountain, Tennessee artist is unique in that he paints with razor blades.

“In the early years, as I would tell people that I paint with razor blades, they would ask me how,” McGill said. “So, I started taking everything with me that I need to paint when I do shows.”

Curiosity killed the cat and it certainly attracts people to McGill’s work station.

“People always enjoy watching,” he said. “Teachers have, on occasion, brought their art classes to observe.”

And that’s all right with, Bob McGill. He was discouraged from painting in high school and did not paint again for 25 years so he welcomes “on-lookers.”

And so do the other artists at TroyFest. “They enjoy the friendliness of the people and it is our goal for the participating artists to leaving wanting to come back,” Drinkwater said.

TroyFest will be from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and from  10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday.