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C.R.E.E.P.S.

Blog

 

 

C.R.E.E.P.S.

Sean Herman

The Serpents of Bienville camp is always at work, bringing you all kinds of new stories, interviews, and art.  We are excited and grateful to get to work with some of our close friends, friends that are creating amazing things that we are proud to show you.  One of these projects we love is called C.R.E.E.P.S. and is brought to you by our good friends Chris Cumbie and Harriet Shade. 

Here's their introduction to the project that is C.R.E.E.P.S. :

"Chris Cumbie's lil C.R.E.E.P.S. are handmade original works of art, each with their own big personality. Their bodies are hand carved out of spindles from old broken chairs, cribs and other wood objects. Their heads are hand carved from wood knobs, balls and ovals. Once carved, the bodies and heads are painted with their fine details and expressions burned into the wood, then they are attached into their painted and stenciled boxes. No two C.R.E.E.P.S. are the ever same. 

C.uriously

R.andom

E.motionally

E.lusive

P.eculiar

S.pecimens" 

Here are the interviews that we did with both Chris and Harriet a few months back, we hope you enjoy getting to know this awesome friends we are enjoying working with.  Click here to pick up a C.R.E.E.P. of your own, or swing by the Serpents of Bienville Gallery to take a C.R.E.E.P. home.

We have some exciting things on the horizon working with Chris, Harriet, and a few more friends, leading to some new projects that we will be announcing to you soon!  Stay tuned!


Photo of Chris Cumbie

Photo of Chris Cumbie

I first met Chris Cumbie over 20 years ago, and am so grateful I was lucky enough to become his friend.  My friends and I were little skate punks, skateboarding around Gulf Shores Alabama. We spent our days looking for new spots to skate, getting chased out, and like any good experience as a teenager, putting ourselves in danger.  Chris was 20, we all were about 12 years old, that cusp of preteen teenage adolescence, or in other words, completely annoying. Chris was kind enough to open his doors to a bunch of little kids, and introduce us to a counter culture that further changed my life forever.  We spent those long summer days, skating all day on his mini ramp, only a couple of blocks from the beach.  Looking back on it, it was the stuff that dreams are made of, all day skate sessions, listening to punk rock, and laughing non stop.  I remember spending all day, listening to the descendants album "somery" on repeat, with intervals of Chris saying "If you guys like that, you will love this".  Chris introduced us to so many bands, so much skateboard history, and a DIY punk culture that would forever change my life.  He had introduced us to what became my first love, punk rock, which got me into my life love of tattooing.  I always have felt that I owe Chris so much for being willing to help a group of preteens kids, encourage us, and introduce us to a culture that forever changed my life for the better.

Years passed, and I lost touch with Chris.  I would tell the stories about skating at his mini ramp all the time.  Every place I moved an an adult, I began to miss the area I grew up in Southern Alabama, and those days on the mini ramp became something more of a dream that I longed for.  When I moved back into the area some years ago, Chris reached out to me to get tattooed, and we reconnected.  That first appointment he brought me a piece of art he had made for me, from found objects, and it was amazing.  He was working by day doing tiling and carpentry work, and in his off time, he was making art.  At that point he didn't consider himself an artist, and the piece he gave to me was one of the first pieces he had made, in his eyes he was just having fun.  I remember telling him, "Quit your job, because you could easily do this full time.  This is amazing."  Now, six or so years later, Chris is one of the most sought after artist in the Southern Gulf Coast.  He has long since left the field of carpentry, and is doing his amazing art full time.  I am so proud of his ambition and drive to create honest, unique pieces, made from objects from the area around us.  Over twenty years ago I was a little punk kid, skating on a mini ramp, hanging on every word this guy said about a movement I so loved, and now I find myself in the same position, being inspired more than I could ever say by the same humble guy that will always say the same thing, "I am not doing anything special, I am just doing what I love."  I am so grateful that we were able to get an interview with him, and I think you will be able to see a glimpse of the guy that helped point me into the positive direction so long ago.  Here's Chris Cumbie, in his own words.


Photo of Chris Cumbie

Photo of Chris Cumbie

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

1. Give us an overview of your art medium and style. 

3D mixed media. I work with everything from wood, metal, paint, textiles, etc. you name it. I try to use as much reclaimed wood, metal and tin and repurposed found objects as possible. I create everything from wall pieces to stand alone sculptures to a series of characters called CREEPS. 

 

2. Are you an Alabamian, born and raised? 

I am. I was born in Mobile but raised in Little River, Alabama. Little River is a very, very small town up close to Monroeville. I grew up in the woods, hunting, fishing, trapping animals with my grandfather. The knowledge and experience I gained from that atmosphere was priceless and is a huge part of who I am and what I do today. I try to pay homage to my roots and long lost techniques through my work. If not, what brought you here? Tell us a little about the area you are from. 

   

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

3. How does your experience with Alabama and the southern culture influence your art, in any form? 

Being raised in such nature environment and small city, I learned to make do with all the elements that I was surrounded by. I guess that is represented in my work to this day. It gave me a different perspective when it comes to making something out of nothing and learning to use salvaged elements to create beauty.

 

4. Do you have a project you are currently working on or promoting? 

I am constantly working on new art. Trying out new techniques, expanding my repertoire of objects used and I am really focusing on some functional art pieces that bring in elements of nature and pieces that preserve a piece of history in a unique way. Tell us about it and, if applicable, where we can share in this project with you (social media or website, perhaps)? I have FB, IG and Twitter. I also have a website but it is hart to keep it stocked during the traveling seasons. www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

 

5. Are there any community projects, festivals, or gatherings you are either a part of, enjoy attending, or think that the area is lacking and would like to see organized? 

We are lacking a true artists art festival. One that features the true talents of all mediums that this area has to showcase. There are so many "outsider" artists here without formal training that have talent that surpasses many of those who had years of schooling. I would like to see a festal that celebrates our Southern, self-taught, roots.

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

 

6. The Serpents of Bienville project came about because of our unending love for the stories that the South provides. Can you share with us your favorite story—whether it’s a ghost story, myth, fable, history lesson, or even some crazy tale an ancestor passed down—and how the story made it’s way to you.

  Being raised in Little River, stories of Red Eagle, aka William Weatherford, were always talked about it. His grave is off this dirt road up in Little River and rumor has it that you can see his ghost dancing on his grave under the oak tree that sprouted from it ages ago. His grave and another cemetery that is home to some who lost their lives in the battle up there backed up to my family's property. I spent a lot of time there as a kid. It is still cool to visit and see all the things that the locals leave on his grave. There is also a cool site down by the river that tells the story of the infamous battle/massacre. 

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

Artwork by Chris Cumbie, www.ChrisCumbieArt.com

Click here to pick up a C.R.E.E.P. of your own, and check out more of of Chris's awesome art.  You can also come by the Serpents of Bienville Gallery to take a C.R.E.E.P. home today.


I met Harriet Shade a few years ago through the local art community in Mobile, Alabama.  Right away I was struck by her excitement and encouragement when it came to getting artwork out to the public, getting it in their hands, and hanging up in their house.  Having the ability to get art out to the public is sometimes just as important as creating the artwork itself.  Harriet has an understanding of the emotional importance art, and the creation of it, can have on a community, along with how it can unify it.  Harriet has had years of experience with local community organizations.  She was one of the founding members of the Lagniappe publication which focuses on the community of downtown Mobile.  She went on to become the Director of Communications for the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Later, after transitioning into hands on work with the local art scene,  Harriet and Carl Norman opened Spire gallery in 2013, which has since become a staple to the art community in Mobile.  I have always been grateful to be involved in projects she is putting together, and excited to see fruits of their labor.  Naturally, we wanted to see what her perspective would be about local folklore, and how it's influenced her and her lifestyle.  Without further ado, here's Harriet.

Photo of Harriet Shade

Photo of Harriet Shade

 

1. Give us an overview of your art medium and style. 

I’m a writer and I dabble in mixed media, but I don’t really share much of what I do. My words are my personal release. 

 

2. Are you an Alabamian, born and raised?

 I am not. If not, what brought you here? My mother was raised in the South. She is from West Point Mississippi. She always wished that she had been able to raise my sister and I in the South but due to my father working for Dupont, we grew up on the East Coast instead. I spent my summers as a child first in Pascagoula, Mississippi and then later in Orange Beach, AL with my aunt. Even though I was an “East Coast” girl, I had strong Southern roots fostered by summers filled with sailing, crabbing, fishing and everything else the Gulf Coast life entails. Tell us a little about the area you are from. I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware just minutes outside of Philadelphia, PA. It is a different kind of beauty than what you see here in the South, but just as intoxicating at times. It is ripe with woods, forests, rivers and streams, all outside of a bustling city filled with culture. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel blessed to have experienced the best of both coasts. Because of my ties to the South I decided to attend college down here because I felt as if there was much more I needed to explore. I didn’t come here with the intention to stay, but I became entranced with this area and especially with this town. It is unlike any other place I have ever been. I fell in love with Mobile, with New Orleans, with the beaches all along the way and ended up making this my home. 

   

3. How does your experience with Alabama and the southern culture influence your art, in any form?

 The storytellers of the South are some of the most inspiring authors I’ve experienced. From those who tell their stories through words, such as Eugene Walter, to those who tell their stories through objects and art, such as Bruce Larsen, their messages come through in the most unique and intriguing of ways. It influences me to dig deep, to put my heart and soul onto paper, to tell the good and the bad and the ugly, to just share what’s inside me to make sure that a legacy exists once I am gone from this realm.

The artist Bruce Larsen with one of his pieces

The artist Bruce Larsen with one of his pieces

The artist Chris Cumbie putting together a show at Spire

The artist Chris Cumbie putting together a show at Spire

4. Do you have a project you are currently working on or promoting?

 I always have something happening. (laughs)  Skateboard art shows, Art shows at SPIRE, my work for my clients at SPIRE, organizing the art festival aspect of the SouthSounds Music and Arts Festival, managing the marketing and scheduling for Chris Cumbie Art, being his artist assistant and a few other things in the works that I can’t talk about just yet. 

 

Artist Butch Anthony in front of The Museum of Wonder in Seale, Alabama

Artist Butch Anthony in front of The Museum of Wonder in Seale, Alabama

5. Are there any community projects, festivals, or gatherings you are either a part of, enjoy attending, or think that the area is lacking and would like to see organized? 

I work with SouthSounds Music and Arts Festival to manage the art market part of that 3 day event. As for what we are lacking? Mobile, and the area in general, is missing a true celebration of our region’s outsider artists. The self-taught talents that this area possesses is unrivaled. We need a festival that celebrates these hidden and not-so-hidden gems. One that showcases the immeasurable talent that is born from the deep South. This is a task that I am preparing to personally take on and hope to soon have the funding and support needed. I am also in the very early, developmental stages of working on a gathering of artistic minds. One similar to the now defunct Doo-Nanny that used to take place in Seale, Alabama on the property of renowned folk artist Butch Anthony. I had the extreme pleasure of being able to attend this event in its last years and the hole that it has left in the Southern artistic community is one that I would like to help fill.  

W.C. Rice's Cross Garden in Prattville, Alabama

W.C. Rice's Cross Garden in Prattville, Alabama

6. The Serpents of Bienville project came about because of our unending love for the stories that the South provides. Can you share with us your favorite story—whether it’s a ghost story, myth, fable, history lesson, or even some crazy tale an ancestor passed down—and how the story made it’s way to you. 

I don’t know if this counts as a “story” but I have been quite obsessed with W.C. Rice’s Cross Garden in Prattville since the day I stumbled upon it 20 years ago. This man was dedicated to his personal cause and expressed it in avery public and unique way. Sadly, he passed a few years back and what remains of his roadside display dwindles daily. But each chance I get, I get to stop by and visit, I do. His spirit and essence still remain.