‘When the Spirit Speaks’ book, exhibit show folk art’s current state

Louisiana artist Juanita Leonard said when she was growing up in the country, chickens were everywhere, and that's why she depicts them. "But the chickens also appear to have some kind of spiritual significance, " author Margaret Day Allen writes in "When the Spirit Speaks." "Perhaps they are related to the angels that appear in many of (Leonard's) paintings." Leonard is included in an exhibit of artists from "When the Spirit Speaks" at Clayton's Main Street Gallery. CONTRIBUTED BY MARGARET DAY ALLEN

Louisiana artist Juanita Leonard said when she was growing up in the country, chickens were everywhere, and that’s why she depicts them. Leonard is included in an exhibit of artists from the book “When the Spirit Speaks” at Clayton’s Main Street Gallery. CONTRIBUTED BY MARGARET DAY ALLEN

 

BY HOWARD POUSNER

FOR THE AJC

“When the Spirit Speaks: Self-Taught Art of the South,” a new book that profiles 32 contemporary artists, makes a strong case that worthy folk art has never stopped pouring out of our region.

Some devotees of the colorfully hued paintings, drawings and found-object sculpture by untrained artists felt the genre was on its last legs after its heyday during the final decades of the 20th century.

The notion was that most of the earlier artists had operated out of rural outposts during the genre’s heyday, and the newcomers could hardly create art for art’s sake if plugged in, like the rest of the world, via the Internet and cellphones.

"When the Spirit Speaks" author Margaret Day Allen. CONTRIBUTED BY ROBERT ALLEN

“When the Spirit Speaks” author Margaret Day Allen. CONTRIBUTED BY ROBERT ALLEN

Pardon “When the Spirit Speaks” (Schiffer Publishing, $34.99) author Margaret Day Allen if she differs with that dismissal. In addition to her book, the Hickory, N.C., writer helped organize an exhibit of artists from “Spirit Speaks” at Main Street Gallery in Clayton that’s on view through Dec. 8.

In our story on the premium myAJC website, see what Allen has to say about the current state of folk art, and what she thinks qualifies in our modern world, which makes it hard for any artist to stay isolated. We also take a closer look at several of the artists in the “Spirit Speaks” exhibit.

ON VIEW

Artists from “When the Spirit Speaks”

Through Dec. 8. 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays-Saturdays. On Black Friday (Nov. 27), the gallery is staying open until 8 p.m. as part of holiday festivities being organized by the Clayton Merchants and Business Association. Main Street Gallery, 51 N. Main St., Clayton. 706-782-2440, mainstreetgallery.net.


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