A new folk art winnerthe real deal, noted observers
The word blacktop is part
of the regions parlance, Southernese for those dark two-lane paved
roads that meander through the mountains, valleys and coastal plains where
most of us during our youth had our first experience at breaking the hundred
mile an hour barrier with dads sedan. Blacktop, the man, is a truly
talented folk artist who is riding the ascendant of a career that will,
many predict, catapult him to fame and fortune.
Ken Gentle is on Blacktops Alabama
birth certificate but few beyond his family call him anything other than
his well-earned nom du plume now that he is painting prolifically and
attracting attention all the while. Originally from Huntsville, Blacktop
was introduced to art by a relative who did illustrations for NASA, but
his real inspiration was from a fellow traveler, Montgomery, Alabama folk
art legend Mose Tolliver. From my first view of Tollivers
paintings, Blacktop said in a recent interview, I saw things
within me that were kin to these images. Some may think Mose Tolliver
paints very simply, but if your soul and heart are touched as mine was,
something complex is there that can only be truly shared through imagery.
The masters of folk art share common spiritual
ground and Blacktops native and adoptive states of Alabama and Georgia,
respectively, are deeply steeped in the self-taught art traditon. Names
like Myrtice West and Jim Lee Suddeth of Alabama and Georgias Howard
Finster and Mattie Lou OKelley represent folk traditions in the
finest form of originality and creativity. Blacktop is their kindred spirit
and knows the basis of his artistic motivation. He is already a force
in the folk art market and is really going to get hotter.
of Blacktops paintings begins with plywood that has black tar applied.
After being coated with enamel, the actual painting is ready for Blacktops
brush. The medium is acrylic and the results are startling. The
tar never completely dries, Blacktop explains. The surface
will change and shift causing movement of the painted images. Theres
going to be a kind of life and the inevitable change that life promises
embedded in each painting. That, collectors maintain, is undisputed
originality, something that is increasingly difficult to find in the homogenized
festivals and craft shows posing as legitimate arts events.
Blacktop is accessible by telephone (706.235.5655)
and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and he is personable, open and
charming. Talking with him about his art creations and what drives him
is as much fun as chatting with an old friend. Getting to know any artist
prior to investing in their works adds to the overall enjoyment of display
on that favorite wall. The pieces I own by Rev. Howard Finster, Olivia
Thomason, Bettye Williams and Missionary Mary Proctor and many others
make each day colorful and the evenings warm and comfortable because,
apart from the majesty of their painted visions, I spent time with them
and they told me things about themselves. Blacktop offers that kind of
special intimacy that adds to the meaning of his valuable works.
of course is a relevant consideration and Blacktop falls within the very
reasonable category. I have seen faux art, mass-produced frauds at shows
selling to unsuspecting buyers priced higher than Blacktops one-of-a-kind
creations. His, of course, have worth, and will appreciate in value over
the months and years. These considerations attract serious collectors
as well as those who are just getting their feet wet.
Without hesitation, I recommend Blacktop
as a quality person and self-taught artist to those who want to own paintings
that are genuinely from the visions of a remarkably talented gentleman.