It's a heartfelt event for me when kids are allowed to truly interact with art and this is just what happens at the annual Clydefest celebration each April in Chatham County, N.C.  It's a grassroots event in the tiny community of Bynum and the feeling is more of village festival which it in fact is, although it is organized with the intention of also honoring a specific individual: local outsider artist Clyde Jones.  The festival is at the Bynum ballpark with all sorts of tents and activities set up across the outfield grass. Clyde himself takes up residence in a folding chair under a tent canopy set up right in the middle of all the action and it's great fun to be able to walk right up and talk with him and check out a rough work-to-be by his side in the tent. A highlight of the day is when Clyde does a demonstration and carves a work right on the spot for a charity auction.  Clyde's trademark artworks are his 'critters' which are extremely rough-hewn, large wooden animals, usually brightly painted and festooned with glitter, metal scraps, and all other sorts of found objects. (A giraffe on display this year had its markings demarcated by old tuna cans for instance and many smaller pig critters have attached objects like softballs for eyes.) They are often decked out in these tremendous pastel colors like mint green or lavender.  I think whatever old house paint color palette Clyde has going at the time. The festival this past weekend had my personal favorite, a Harley Davidson-size glittery silver critter - decked out with a saddle even- and of course all are invited to climb aboard for a photo op or just a momentary ride down the highway of one's imagination.  Kids of course love all this, mine are certainly no exception, and Clyde has also sawn and carved several other attractions at the festival for them: a hoop toss onto a few medium size spiky critters, a ball toss into a slanted piece of brightly painted plywood, a few fish critters that kids can fish for in a small wading pool, an open painting area with pre cut animal shapes and plenty of open paint cans in a wide variety of colors and a whole bunch of glitter where you can make your own take-home critter.  I think you get the idea. It is crowd participation par excellence. The fact that kids can so directly interact with the artwork I think is the best part. Rather than be all touchy and particular about the sculptures, Clyde in fact encourages this interaction and the fact that kids can be so hands-on I think is a tremendous benefit for them. Kids have that natural inclination to learn by touching and the Bynum ballpark on this day is a great learning field.   The fact that Clydefest's main attraction and namesake (not to mention all the volunteer help) puts in this amount of work and personal energy to give everything such a personal touch and also takes the time to make it so fun for all the attendees and especially for all the kids makes this a new favorite day out adventure for me.  Now if I can just wrangle up one of those critters to keep at home...


April 27, 2008 6:40 PM |


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This page contains a single entry by FlyOver published on April 27, 2008 6:40 PM.

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