True, it’s not the same without Sam The Dot Man, but the famous Fearrington Folk Art show in North Carolina, as everybody knows, is still really, really great.

Sam, who must be 80 something now, is reportedly in a nursing home in South Carolina, but there’s still the Cap Man — so named because of his bottle cap-encrusted pick up truck — and Miz Thang and her vibrant, intricately cut-out Country singers and Bluesmen (she usually sells out), Mama Girl and her newspaper and glue creations (the only art supplies, she, a former sharecropper, had at her disposal), and Missionary Mary Proctor, whose artwork features lots and lots of buttons.

I just got back from Fearrington, me, the only Northerner. It was a blast seeing my fabulous-o Southern artist pals – and their crazy great art cars—and visit with all the folks – 2,000 of them this year — who flock to this little town near Chapel Hill for the chance to see, and buy, some of the best outsider and folk art around.

We love this show, for a ton of reasons. The people who attend are super friendly and they really like and appreciate the kind of art we make. Colorful, wacky, straight-from-the-heart, authentic, unpretentious art, made by people outside the mainstream of the traditional art world. (Hence, the term “outsider” art, which you may have heard of, although maybe not, if you’re from boring New England.)

Also there’s Gilda and Kerstin, the two amazing women who organize the show every year. They feed us breakfast every morning, which of course includes grits and biscuits, and on Saturday night we’re treated to dinner at the local award-winning restaurant.

An added bonus for me was the weather. It was 79 degrees down there. Green grass, flowers all over the place, tulips and daffodils and pansies and hyacinth, birds singing in the blossoming trees, and off in the distance, at dusk, you could hear the spring peepers croaking away.

(I’m writing this from cold gray Rhode Island, where, agh, we’re about to get slammed by yet another snowstorm. )

Oh, and another thing about Fearrington: there is no booth fee for artists — pretty unheard of. All they ask is that we bring our very best work, which of course we’re all very happy to do.


Some of the other talented Fearrington artists…

Athlone Clarke

Cher Shaffer

CM and Grace Kelly Laster

Jackie McLeod

Brian Dowdall

Miz Thang

Chris Milk

Amy Landsburg

These are just some of them; the rest you can see if you click on the Fearrington Folk Art Show link below.

Other links…

Panorama Folk Art: C.M. Laster


Athlone Clarke | Facebook

Amy Lansburg Art – Home | Facebook



Eric Legge – | Folk Art | Original Folk Art

Folk Art Show l Fearrington Village | Fearrington Village


















What is Outsider Art? – Outsider Art Fair













IMG_7803IMG_7800IMG_7786FullSizeRender (100)miz thang truckmary proctor





Faces. I see them everywhere. In rocks and parking meters and faucets and salads. Wood floors, car grills, rust spots, mailboxes, wrinkled pillow cases, sidewalk cracks – oh my god, entire families live in sidewalks. Stains, obviously.

 One of my first memories is being in bed as a little kid and seeing a woman sitting in the rocking chair in my room. She had a pleasant face–it was comforting to have her there watching over me. She turned out to be a pile of laundry. Today I saw an old lady in a babushka in a balled-up Kleenex.

It’s distracting! There are so many faces staring out at me from the wood floors of my yoga place that I fall over doing balance poses. It’s too much sometimes– faces shifting into faces, changing shape, changing expressions. I get pulled into their world, and I forget where I am.

I wonder. Are the faces there-there?  

And I just happen to see them?

Or are they a creation of my own mind?

What are they trying to tell me?



One Night in Paris

That’s me with a traffic cone on my head, in Paris.

I sent this pic to Jon McIntosh of Lucky Street Gallery, which represents me, just to make him laugh. He liked it so much he asked if he could use it on an advertisement for the gallery.

Uh, yeah.

It was a few years ago. My sister Susie and I were in Paris because my paintings were being exhibited at a gallery there. I knew they were in the gallery, but I didn’t totally believe it, I didn’t feel it. It was too abstract.  I had to go and see them for myself.

The gallery, Carre Des Arts, is in the artsy Latin Quarter, where people like Picasso and Hemingway used to hang out. One of my paintings was in window.

It was very cool.

When people ask me to name the highlights of my art career, I always say Paris. The other one I mention is the time a woman who’d bought a painting of mine told me that it helped get her through breast cancer.

We drank a lot of wine that night. (I know, big surprise.) We were walking back to our hotel after dinner – it was around midnight– laughing and fooling around. We’d been taking funny pictures of ourselves all week, and we were always looking for good photo opportunities.

And there on the street was this traffic cone – and, for some reason, a chair. I put the traffic cone on my head and sat down.

Until now it’s been just Susie and I who got a kick out of the photo. We laugh every time we look at it. I hope you get a laugh, too. God knows, we need all the laughs we can get these days….

Photo credit: Susie Stevens.

She’s kind of ticked I didn’t say that before.





This girl and her cat are coming with me to a show next week in Louisville. I’ve never been to Louisville — or Kentucky, for that matter. Or Tennessee, which we plan to check out after the show—it’s only a couple of hours further south. My sweetheart is a musician, so that should be extra fun.

He’s even playing in a country-rock band at the moment (yes, there are country bands in Rhode Island), which he’s kind of embarrassed about. He used to look down his nose at country music, and I was pretty snobby about it, too. But you know what?   As corny as it is sometimes, it can be really great. People don’t just sit there — they get up and dance. You’re making people happy. You’re helping them forget for one damn night that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I think that’s important work.

The songs are about love and loss and hope and joy, stuff we have in common with every person on earth, even people who seem completely different from us.

Like the Muslim woman last summer. My sweetheart’s band was playing at a campground in Massachusetts. The crowd was mostly white people in shorts drinking Budweiser. Not that there’s anything wrong with white people, or shorts, or Budweiser! (Well, actually there is something wrong with Budweiser—it’s awful.) That was the crowd, pretty homogenous. Except for this one Muslim family. A little boy who looked about two, two teenaged girls and a boy, and their mom, who was wearing a maroon dress that fell to her ankles and a head scarf .

A few songs in, our friend Sue, who makes a practice of forcing other people to dance whether they want to or not, grabbed the teenaged boy by the arm and dragged him onto the dance floor. Sue and the boy, who didn’t look as embarrassed as you might think, danced together, and soon the girls joined in. Before the night was over, Sue was twirling the little boy around in her arms, and the mom and I were dancing together, me in cut-off shorts and her in a hijab. We couldn’t stop smiling at each other. We were having so much fun, also we knew how funny the situation was, and also that it was a moment of magic. After all, this was during the presidential campaign. When the last song ended, the mom put her hand on her breast. “I love country music,” she said. “ It touches my heart.”

Maybe we’ll see her down in Nashville.




Kill The Fly

Kill The FlyThe other day I was trying to get my peeps, a group of adults with disabilities, to write a group poem.  I taped a piece of paper on the wall and had my magic marker at the ready. They were sooooo not feeling it. Good luck getting these folks to do something they don’t want to.  Even the couple of staff who were there– kids in their 20s – weren’t rising to the occasion.  So I gave up. Instead, I decided to just write down what they were all saying, the words and phrases that were swirling all around the room.

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Green Bird

We went to live in Indonesia a few years ago. My ex-husband needed to do research – he was studying bamboo – and I was happy to go along.

I’ve always dreamed of having a green bird. A child’s dream, I know, but a part of me still is a child. Bright green, with jeweled eyes, she would ride on my shoulder and nuzzle my ear — my feathered talisman in this strange and exotic new world. Once, in a crowded, dusty market in Denpassar, I spotted my bird, high up in a cage fluttering with reds and yellows. We were rushed that day, we had no time for bird-shopping, but I knew I would go back for her.

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