"I've been looking into my past for an honest way of expressing myself-not a way tied to art, to the art scene, or to art history...The heart of my art has been with me since I've been a kid..." says Tom Jenkins about his process of making art. With an apparent love of folk toys and outsider art, Jenkins exhibits a quirky and highly inventive group of sculptures, which range from musical tops to soap box cars and dancing puppets. The 3-D work is accompanied by a lively selection of landscape paintings, which combine personal narrative with outcry against the ravages of industry and technology.
Jenkin's family roots are in the Ozark mountains, in an area rich in folk traditions including story telling, toy making and folk music. His recent work in particular, is imbued with the whimsy, tales and songs which he heard from his parents and grand parents. Through the making of puppets, tops and musical instruments the artist connects the viewer to a world which is a fascinating synthesis of images of his own youth combined with a unique and humorous perspective on the plight of humanity.
During his performance, Tales From Boney Mountain, the artist sets his objects into motion, lighting an oil lamp which causes a long metal tube poised over the flame to let out a prolonged melancholic whistle. Jenkins moves quietly about the stage, winding tops and setting odd contraptions into tapping syncopation, building a spellbinding wizard/ alchemist persona. As a finale he dons a bottle cap encrusted coat and bucket hat, works his puppets Dancing Ed and Little Ben the Dancing Rooster and speak/sings his own comic songs. The overall affect of Tom Jenkins' exhibition and performance, Tales From Boney Mountain is one of experiencing something simultaneously nostalgic and familiar but just beyond the grasp of rational understanding. Magic!
Susanna Meiers, Art Gallery Curator
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