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Filtering by Category: Interviews

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. 

Interview with Vernon T. Hightower of The Pine Hill Haints

Sean Herman

Everyone please welcome The Serpents of Bienville's newest contributor, Vernon T. Hightower!  I was fortunate to meet the great Vernon T. Hightower almost twenty years ago through mutual friends.  We immediately struck a bond nerding out on punk rock music and skateboarding.  Travis exposed me to all kinds of bands I had never listened to, and was one of the most honest, encouraging people I was fortunate enough to be around.  His humor is contagious, along with his original, creative energy.  Together we started a project working with younger kids skateboarding, much of the time driving them around to spots to skate that they didn’t have access to.  This project eventually led to a skateboard/ music festival I put together in the late nineties, focusing on punk rock and hardcore bands. At this point Vernon had moved off to Auburn for college, eventually he and I lost touch.  Little did I know that he was playing with a band that I loved called “The Immortal Lee County Killers”, continuing on to play with one of the most influential bands in the South, “The Pine Hill Haints”.  Later, I will be publishing an interview I did with Jamie from “The Pine Hill Haints” that you will love, so stay tuned.

travis4.jpg

Almost ten years later I moved back to our hometown, and so had Vernon.  He and I reconnected.  Nothing had changed, he was still that awesome, encouraging friend, but now with an incredible wife to match.  I was lucky to get to see their band “Heat Lightning” a few times, and they were high energy, loud, and amazing.  The common thread in all the music Vernon does is the South.  That gritty, spooky, lo fi old Southern Rock n Roll feel is always apparent in everything he does.  Vernon has such a love for this area, one that honestly might rival ours.  It was natural to ask him to be involved with The Serpents of Bienville. His interview turned out to be pretty amazing, he definitely showed that love of the area through story telling, some stories being almost mythical.  I think you guys will love it, enjoy!


Vernon at McGirl's bar in Leitrim, Ireland. From Vernon "Liam McGirl is the son of an Irish freedom fighter, John Joe McGirl. Supposedly a division of the IRA was formed in this bar."

Vernon at McGirl's bar in Leitrim, Ireland. From Vernon "Liam McGirl is the son of an Irish freedom fighter, John Joe McGirl. Supposedly a division of the IRA was formed in this bar."

 

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

I guess I've mostly been involved in playing music. I've been in bands since I was a teenager and that hasn't changed. I grew up in a musical family, so it was just natural. I also do a little writing. Like a lot of people who grew up in the punk scene of the 90's, I used to do a zine and now do a couple blogs.

 

2. Are you an Alabamian, born and raised? If not, what brought you here? Tell us a little about the area you are from.  

I was born in Mobile, but raised on the Eastern Shore, in Spanish Fort, back when there was nothing over there. I remember when we got a McDonald's. It was a big deal! 

What else is there to say about Mobile? One of the oldest cities in the States, the former capital of French Louisiana, with a 300 year old Mardi Gras tradition in the winter and beaches in the summer. Mobile has its problems, but as a guy who's seen every inch of these United States, I can honestly say I wouldn't live anywhere else. 

   

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

I feel like everything I've ever done has been informed by the Southern experience. It's so ingrained into who I am, that there's no way I could do anything that isn't inherently Southern. Being into punk music, and growing up in the South, is hard. There's more resistance. But it toughens you up and makes you hard. More resilient. I feel like people who were into it in the South are more reliable because it wasn't easy. My high school didn't have a surf team, it had a football team who would beat up anyone who was different, just for the fun of it. It really creates this edge to punk musicians from the South that I don't get from other regions. That said, I think the people who really dug their heels in, and stuck with it, also have a very positive energy to them. They're so excited to find their niche, where they finally fit in, that there's a joy about them.

Alabama is so diverse, though. My experience growing up here was very different from my wife's experiences, growing up and going to shows in North Alabama. As far as culture goes, down here it's beer and oysters, whereas up there it's sweet tea and cornbread. They're both great, but end up producing very different types of people. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't really consider Alabama, the whole state, to have any influence on me at all. I'm more influenced by the regional, Gulf Coast culture. Like my priest told me one time, after moving back home, "Mobilians identify more East and West, rather than North and South". Meaning, we're more like Pensacola and New Orleans than Montgomery, which is a good thing, in my opinion. 

 

Vernon playing washtub bass with The Pine Hill Haints (2001) From Vernon, "2001 or so at End of the Line Cafe in Pensacola. It had to be one of the first tours after the Haints reformed because it was when Ted and Rymodee from This Bike is a Pipe Bomb were in the band."

Vernon playing washtub bass with The Pine Hill Haints (2001) From Vernon, "2001 or so at End of the Line Cafe in Pensacola. It had to be one of the first tours after the Haints reformed because it was when Ted and Rymodee from This Bike is a Pipe Bomb were in the band."

4. Do you have a project you are currently working on or promoting? Tell us about it and, if applicable, where we can share in this project with you (social media or website, perhaps)?

Well, I'm back playing with The Pine Hill Haints, which is a band I was in from about 2000-2004. It's a band that is known to have a revolving lineup, but right now has me and J.R. Collins (ex-Quadrajets, ex-Lee County Killers) in it. Jamie Barrier has always been the driving force of the band, and Katie Barrier (originally from Mobile also) joined up right after me in 2000 or so. They're both still in it, of course. And to go back to your previous question, I like that The Haints are from North and South Alabama. I feel like it gives the band both an Appalachian, and a Cajun influence. The Haints are on facebook, and I'm sure you could find some stuff on the Arkam Records site (Jamie's label), and the K Records site

I'm also in a Cajun band with Jamie called Les Loups Garou. When I was a kid, there was a lot of Cajun music and culture around here, but it seems to have all but died out. We're trying to bring it back. 

Occasionally, me and my wife Crystal (ex-Natchez Shakers, ex-Florence Nightingales) will perform together as Heat Lightning. We did a 7" a few years ago for the Irish label Stitchy Press.

travis5.jpg

I do a blog now called Bayou Babylon, but I only post to it sporadically. I used to do one called Fit for Dragon*Con, about the struggles of an idiot (myself) trying to lose weight in time for Dragon*Con. Eventually I just got tired of trying to lose weight and Dragon*Con, so I quit. The domain is still up, though. I also briefly did "Diary of an Ex-Cobra Viper" until I found an article from years ago in McSweeney's, of all the rotten places, that was more or less the same thing.


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 just really love Mardi Gras. I love the mysticism of it. It's also something that is very unique to this area. Outside of New Orleans, Mobile, and maybe Biloxi, the Carnival season isn't celebrated in the same ways. Sure it has its issues, but in general, it's a big positive for the area. I feel like it is the embodiment of the spirit and culture here. The music, the food, the attitude... all of it. I'd like to see more people celebrating Mardi Gras in nontraditional ways and thinking outside of the old-fashioned way of "go to a parade, see/join a Krewe or Mystic Society". 

And of course I'd like to see more diy music spaces open up. More basement shows and more bands willing to play them. 


Vernon and friend.  From Vernon, "(Pussolini, may he rest in peace) was taken at my buddy Willie's house in County Leitrim, Ireland. Willie and his wife Natalia are in numerous bands over there, mostly folksy drone bands. They're also involved in all sorts of DIY activities, from art shows to bookshops and music spaces."

Vernon and friend.  From Vernon, "(Pussolini, may he rest in peace) was taken at my buddy Willie's house in County Leitrim, Ireland. Willie and his wife Natalia are in numerous bands over there, mostly folksy drone bands. They're also involved in all sorts of DIY activities, from art shows to bookshops and music spaces."

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.

Man, so many.... Let me give you two. An old one, and a new one.

When I was a kid, we would travel up to my Great-Grandparents house in Monroe County on Christmas Eve. It was on a lot of land because it used to be a farm, so it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. Inevitably, the adults would start telling ghost stories. I always loved it. It seemed like getting scared was just a normal part of Christmas. 

My dad used to tell a story that involved my Great-Grandfather riding his buggy home from church one night. At some point on his ride home, a creature "about the size of a yearling" came out of the woods and walked beside the buggy. It looked vaguely like a pale horse, but with red eyes. It walked beside my Great-Granddad's buggy until he got home, and then it just walked off into the woods. 

 

Here's one that happened to a friend and coworker:

People here believe in Voodoo. It is very real to a lot of people here. I used to hang a pair of chicken feet from my rearview mirror so I could leave my doors unlocked.

A friend of mine at work came in one day and said that his girlfriend had cooked him some spaghetti and meatsauce, and she got mad that he wouldn't eat it. When I asked why he wouldn't eat it, he said, "She Voodoo, man! She Voodoo!" 

He later told me that a popular Voodoo spell is that women will put a little menstrual blood into some kind of red food, then give it to their man and it would bind them to them forever.

I honestly didn't think much of it, until a few months later he came in saying that he was trying to leave her, but she said that she would mess him up if he did. He told me, "I knew she was Voodoo, man! I knew that bitch was Voodoo!"

It wasn't long after that, he ended up having a stroke. A young man, in the prime of his life and in decent shape, had a stroke that paralyzed him. That's a true story, and it's not my only experience with Voodoo. I don't mess with that stuff, man. I probably shouldn't even be talking about it here.


Vernon is one of our newest contributors here at The Serpents of Bienville, and we couldn't be anymore excited.  He has a fun, fresh, honest take on story telling, and I think you guys are going to love his upcoming blogs.  Just in time for Mardi Gras, Travis will be bringing us his Top 5 Mardi Gras movies, counting down to Fat Tuesday where he will explain the origin of King Cake, and all the delicious ways it can be brought to you.  You can keep up with Vernon through his blog at Bayou Babylon.  We are so excited to have him aboard, so give him a warm welcome!

Interview with Harriet Shade

Sean Herman

The Serpents of Bienville is a community-based project centered on Alabama culture, history, myth, and folklore. The stories bestowed on us from generations past are just as important as the stories we are shaping with our actions today. We would love nothing more than to hear from you, the vibrant and influential artistic community, if you are open to being a part of the tale we are working hard to create. So tell us your story, share your wisdom, and help us create a community we can all be proud to call our Alabama.

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. 

   

The artist Bruce Larsen with one of his pieces

The artist Bruce Larsen with one of his pieces

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 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.