Text and photos by Larry Harris
It had been 17 years since my first visit and six years since my last visit, but Clyde Jones and his Critter Crossing were both doing fine on this crisp and clear April morning in Bynum, N.C. Clyde welcomed me at his front porch, knowing that I looked familiar. Then he remembered the bus tour that I led from Houston for the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, back in 2007.
“When are you bringing back all those Texas women?” Clyde asked, recalling our pilgrimage to one of North Carolina’s most beloved visionary artists.
Following a chat on the front porch, Clyde invited me to spend as much time as I wanted exploring his colorful environment. Then he excused himself, explaining that he had to tend to some yard-cutting for a neighbor. As he drove down the street on his purple riding-lawnmower, I was afraid that he might be spending several hours providing yard maintenance for the town of Bynum, as he also has provided this small community all of their yard sculptures with his painted wooded critters. As you approach Clyde’s house, the critters in the neighbors’ yards get more and more numerous. He freely gives his wooden animals away, refusing to sell them
Luckily, after only about 25 minutes, I heard the buzz of Clyde’s mower slowly returning home. We spent the remainder of our time discussing future visits and musing on the beauty of Carolina mornings and Texas women.
The Folk Art Society conference weekend in Raleigh will include a visit to Clyde Jones’ environment on Sunday, October 6.