From a visit I made to Charlie Lucas’ environment in Pink Lily:
Another article in the NYT yesterday was by the same author as I mentioned yesterday, the gentleman who called me when he was here on assignment. Originally we talked about art environments around Alabama — I encouraged him, in addition to visiting Joe, to see Tom Hendrix’s wall/monument at the Trace, W.C. Rice’s Cross Garden, and others — but at a certain point he told me he thought doing a piece only on those by one race would give the piece more focus.
Thus, the name of the article, ‘Yard Shows’ Are Becoming Harder to Find. In part:
On a recent trip to Alabama, I’d hoped to visit the artist Charlie Lucas and his rural art environment at Pink Lily, near Montgomery. But the 61-year-old metal craftsman and painter was busy showing at a juried art festival. And besides, he had moved to Selma almost a decade ago and now worked in a warehouse studio.
I had heard conjecture that Joe Minter’s African Village in America might be the last “yard show” in Alabama. At least it seemed to be the last of these African-American art installations to remain inhabited and undisturbed. If that claim were true, I wondered, what had happened to the rest?
The art was never easy to find, materializing like night blooms in the woodlands and graveyards of rural black communities. Vaughn Sills, a Boston-based photographer, learned to look near historic downtowns, on the black side of the railroad tracks. And yet, she said, she had put perhaps 3,000 miles on rental cars in order to find 150 traditional African-American yards and gardens…
I don’t think of these as a phenomenon in context to only one group of people as was done in this particular article. The construction of these environments are made by all flavors of humankind, all over the world (see my friend Henk in Amsterdam for European sites) and — as I do, as someone who has seen something wonderful in a front yard, stopped the car suddenly, and tapped blindly on front doors — you never know who’s on the other side…what the color or background behind that magic might be. I just wish that this article would have been broadened to include more people, more sites.
P.S. No way, no way, no way is Joe the last with a ‘yard show’ in Alabama.