Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA alumnus showcases folk art

Anthony Tavis, a University of Alabama alumnus and local bluegrass folk artist, will be participating in Druid City Arts Festival for the third time.

Originally from New England, Tavis moved down South to attend the University. Since then, he has participated in multiple art festivals such as the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival in 2011, where he won a first-place award for two-dimensional folk art.

Tavis felt drawn towards creating artwork early in life.

“I was young when I first began creating art,” Tavis said. “I started off doing a lot of doodling in my notebooks, when I probably should have been paying attention in school.”

Although Tavis experienced an early fascination with art, it wasn’t until three years ago that he decided to fully step into his passion.

“It was always something that I daydreamed about,” Tavis said. “I had graduated school and I was waiting for a job to open up and I kind of felt that I had the organization and the confidence to give art a shot.”

It is here, in the South, that Anthony Tavis has found the inspiration for his bluegrass folk art.

“The bottom line is, the best cultural things that America has to offer come from the South,” Tavis said. He said he believes it is the Southern music, food and cultural curiosities that inspire his artwork the most.

“I think his art is bright and colorful and happy,” Emily Leigh, assistant director at the Kentuck Museum Association, said. “It’s basic, but you know exactly what it its. It’s not traditional; it’s based on realism, which is why I like it. It’s not painterly; it’s representational.”

Tavis also utilizes his art to influence the attitudes of the audience who views it by projecting a positive message of Southern culture.

“I’m a New Englander by birth, I’m kind of coming at Southern culture from the outside looking in,” Tavis said. “You see a lot, or hear, or experience a lot of stereotypes about Southern culture. I like to promote the positive sides of it. The South is really an amazing place. It has a lot to offer the world. That’s kind of my mission.”

Tavis uses pieces of wood that were originally thrown away and recycles them as canvases for his paintings. He uses this reclaimed wood to help enhance the overall effect of his bluegrass paintings.

“It kind of has a bluesy feel to it,” Tavis said. “It’s very vivid, and it’s done mostly on reclaimed wood. I do a lot of dumpster diving, as we like to call it in the business. I just clean it up and paint it.”

Tavis uses bright, vivid colors in his work to create paintings of a large variety of subjects, ranging from animals to ancient artifacts.

“I like the combinations of his colors,” Leigh said. “I think its fun, and if you like it, it doesn’t matter if anyone else does. If you enjoy it and it makes you smile and it suits you, that’s all you need. Anthony’s art definitely does that.”

One of Tavis’ personal favorite paintings is his piece “The Serpent Disk.” The inspiration for this painting comes from an ancient sandstone disk discovered by archaeologists in the upper Mississippi valley.

“I took the serpent disk and put my own spin on it,” Tavis said. “It’s just a really neat original design.”

Tavis said he hopes to continue making Southern art and spreading the culture of the South.

“I just like to make art and sell it to people and to meet people,” Tavis said. “I would definitely like to get some stuff licensed. It would always be cool to be in a museum, but the art festivals and the occasional gallery showing is good enough for me.”

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