Review of Folk Fest 2009

Atlanta, Georgia

By Linda Knopf

Photographs by David Knopf

 Opening night, August 14th, of Folk Fest 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia, was close to frenetic.  Outside, vehicles, including bottle cap decorated and hand painted trucks, extended to the ends of the parking lanes.  Ninety-five vendors plus the High Museum manned booths with art ranging from traditional to outsider to folk crafts.  The place was crowded.

Duff Lindsay of the Lindsay Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, said that business has been better this year than one would have predicted based on the national economy.  His booth was filled with a great variety of pieces by a number of established and “new” artists.  Marcia Weber Art Objects, Inc. presented Michael Banks, an Alabama artist who received a good deal of local news coverage.  There were numerous paintings by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, James Harold Jennings, Woodie Long, and Mary Proctor.  Sprinkled among the booth were a few pieces by “Mr. Eddy” Mumma, Mary T. Smith, Howard Finster, and Annie Tolliver.

  This year there were more artists in attendance at meet-the-artist night than at the previous Fest.  Chris Clark, with his cane, and Mary Proctor, in her sparkles, greeted visitors and easily talked about their work.  Will Moses, grandson of Grandma Moses, readily signed prints and books as they were purchased and was also accessible and responsive to questions and small talk.  Lorenzo Scott sat ready for photos.  



New to Folk Fest were Mr. Imagination, Joe Minter, Ed Woltemate, and Marguerite Durham.  Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack) recently moved to Atlanta from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  A house fire in early 2008 destroyed much of his work, so this was his first public show in over a year.  In the regal tradition of Egyptian inspired art, Mr. Imagination produces clay sculptures that may include brooms or brushes, embellished with found “gems.”  Two of his pieces were sold by Slotin in March 2009. 


Joe Minter (with his wife Hilda Minter), known for the sculpture park at his home in Birmingham, Alabama, exhibited metal sculptures made of found objects, many incorporating tools.  When asked which piece held the strongest spiritual message for him, Minter pointed out a kinetic structure with shovel and axe heads.  He spoke of the world needing “heart to heart communication” in order to teach young folks about the hard labor America was built upon.  


Working on a detailed pencil drawing, Ed Woltemate generally ignored the crowd moving through the hall.  Titled “Ed’s Sci-Fi Art”, his work depicts colorful other-worldly creatures and settings that hold a sense of humor and reflect a small amount of foreboding.  Perhaps because he is deaf, Woltemate was able to tune out the hubbub and focus on his artwork.  No one else seemed to be able to. 


Marguerite Durham, the sister of Lorenzo Scott, also was a first-timer at Folk Fest.  Her art is in the style of memory paintings depicting serene, colorful characters at work or at home.  Durham is an Atlanta local, selling her work at the Scott Antique Market. 

Another newcomer, John Edwards Welch, was represented by friends who scheduled this single opportunity to present his work.  Welch is a sign maker (more than just a sign painter) who incorporates political and cultural messages from an African American point of view in collages that may be enhanced with glitter.  His subjects include slavery, historical figures, and 20th Century celebrities along with strong spiritual and moral lessons.  Steve Slotin may offer Welch’s unsold pieces at a future Slotin Auction.