TroyFest honors memory of local folk artist Jean Lake

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2019

TroyFest, a premier fine art and crafts festival sponsored annually by the Troy Arts Council, pays tribute to the late Jean Lake, a noted local folk artist whose work is in private collections all around the country.

Joel Williams, TAC president, said TroyFest is rooted in the Jean Lake Art Festival, which began in 1975 as an outgrowth of Troy’s art show which was first held at Murphree Park. The art festival was then moved to the Pike Pioneer Museum (now the Pioneer Museum of Alabama) before relocating to downtown Troy.

Jean Lake was born in Troy and was a natural artist. Her talent was developed in the solitude of the small kitchen of her home on Orange Street. As she painted, family members and friends would often sit beside her, amazed at her ability to paint with such great feelings for the rural South that she knew and loved.

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Local glass artist, Charles Adams, said he is one of the few artists “still around” that showed with Jean Lake during those early days.

“There are a couple of others around but I’m not for sure so I won’t call any names,” Adams said, laughing. “But there was great camaraderie among those of us who called ourselves artists.

“And, Jean was always the life of the party. She never met a stranger. She was always laughing or had a big grin on her face. She was as much fun as anybody could be. People liked her and they liked her art.”

Jean Lake was a self-taught artist and her art was so popular because she painted what she knew. Adams said.
“Jean’s art was whimsical,” he said. “She painted the events of time – people washing and hanging out clothes, sweeping yards, grinding sugar cane and making syrup. Kid rolling tires and eating watermelons.”

Adams said he believes that if Jean Lake were living today, her art would be even more popular and she would be considered one of the top folk artists in the country.”