Wednesday, January 31, 2007

enoch tanner wickham

"i don't know why i did it. i just had to"

as fascinating as art is, i find outsider art exponentially MORE fascinating. enoch wickham, 1884 - 1971, began sculpting religious figures and historical figures he admired after retiring from farming, lake damming and land surveying. the statues are large scale, in a completely rural setting, and made from smooth concrete on frames of scrap metal including tin cans, coat hangers, stove pipes and car parts. his statues range in size from 6 to 30 feet so the animals' eyes could light up with lightbulbs and the halos on religious figures could glow at night. the beautiful guardian angel above is 5 feet tall and watches over the family gravesite. this year i intend to see this in person...

wickham admired this group whom he considered crusaders for the people. (from left) estes kefauver, patrick henry, and john f. kennedy. the liberty bell underneath is inscribed with the words of patrick henry: "I KNOW NOT WHAT COURSE OTHERS MAY TAKE BUT AS FOR MYSELF IT IS GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH". friends bill marsh and sam davis shake hands after a heated argument over tennessee's succesion from the union. the inscription on the base reads "IT IS ALL OVER WITH NOW BILL AND WELL THAT IT IS AS IT IS".

this group includes (from left) world war I hero sgt.alvin c. york, anonymous soldier honoring montgomery county tn. soldiers who lost their lives overseas fighting for our country, and andrew jackson on horseback with this inscription underneath: "HE WAS AN ENEMY OF MONOPLIES (sic) AND SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND A CHAMPION OF DEMOCRACY". a self portrait of the artist on a bull circa 1959, with actual hat, boots, cloth stirrups, spurs, lasso and electrical hookup in bull's eye-sockets for lightbulbs. inscribed "ET WICKHAM HEADED FOR THE WILD AND WOLEY WEST REMEMBER ME BOYS WHILE I AM GONE".

sadly, for unknown reasons, vandals attacked the staues, defiling them with graffiti and decapitating many of them after the artist's death. several statues in salvageable condition were taken to austin peay university where they are being carefully restored. photographs by ned crouch from outsider art by kathy moses.