Close encounters with Jean Lake and Charles Adams

Published 7:22 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

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Let me first say that Jean Lake was only a casual acquaintance and Charles Adams was not-so-distant kin.

I had long admired Jean Lake’s artwork before I first met her at an art show somewhere. I think it was at a small art show at the Pike Pioneer Museum. Or, it could have been at Horse Pens 40 or Calico Fort or Pike Road or …

Whichever it was, I kept going back to Jean Lake’s folk life painting of a place just like where I grew up. Each time, I stopped to look at the painting of wash hanging on the line, kids rolling tires and chickens in the yard, she would day,” You want this; get it. If you don’t, you’ll always regret it.” The painting was $150.  I had young’uns, not money.

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But, to this day, Jean Lake was right. I regret it. Oh, how I regret it!” I should have robbed a bank. What would a few years at Julia Tutwiler women’s prison have been in exchange for a Jean Lake painting?

My daddy played golf with Trigger Lake and I hinted to Daddy that, maybe, he would buy me one of his friend’s wife’s paintings.

Daddy said I didn’t need one of hers. Two of his paint-by number, oil paintings of dogs were hanging over the fireplace. His paintings could be mine one day. Daddy’s paintings are now mine and they are still hanging over the fireplace. I wouldn’t take anything for them…. but I still long for one of Jean Lake’s paintings.

Then, there’s Charles. His daddy, Sam, and my grandmother, Minnie, were related. Both of them were crabby and ornery human beings. But let me say, there was more Adams in Charles than in me.

Like Jean Lake was a leader in folk art, Charles was a leader in glass art. I admired Charles’ glass art and would sit and swig down a short-necked Co-Cola while he foiled. “You messed me up, now,” he would say. “Get me Co-Cola and a bag of boiled peanuts.”

Several year ago, I stood and watched as Adams Glass Studio burned to the ground. “We might could build back but…….” Charles said. I understood. Art is a treasure and, once destroyed, it can never be replaced. 

As an older American, I have come to accept the fact that there are people who have artistic talent and those who don’t.  Jean Lake and Charles Adams were amazingly talented artists.

Shelia Jackson and me? We can just sing!