More than anything, Bynum folk art legend Clyde Jones likes to make children smile. He has an unconventional way of going about it: by revving up his chainsaw.
It works. And kids aren’t the only ones smiling.
He starts with log remnants or an old stump. With a few swipes of his saw, a hammer and nails, and perhaps a coat or two of paint, a “critter” is born. Plastic flowers, tennis balls, artificial grapes, and bottle caps become eyes. A pair of panty hose or a clip-on braid becomes a tail. Some get saddles or a string of lights. The lucky ones get a frosting of glitter.
But the whimsical pieces aren’t for sale. He generously donates them to schools and to local nonprofits. And he gives them to folks he takes a liking to, which includes most of his neighbors, owners and waiters at area restaurants, his dentist, and Captain John's Dockside restaurant in Chapel Hill. In fact, when famed Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov arrived in a limousine in 1991, Clyde politely refused to sell him one.
“You can’t buy one,” Clyde said. “But I like it when people come and take a look.” However, those interested in owning a critter will have a rare opportunity to bid on one at the 14th annual ClydeFEST celebration on May 2nd in Bynum where Clyde will be fashioning a critter on-site for auction.
The Chatham Arts Council honors Clyde with an annual full-day, smile-packed event for children called ClydeFEST. Kids play original Clyde-themed games, make their own art, eat food, and enjoy live entertainment. At Clyde’s Critterville, children get to paint and glitter their own Clyde Critter cut-out to take home. This year’s ClydeFEST is set for Saturday, May 2 from from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Ball Field in Bynum just south of Chapel Hill/Carrboro towards Pittsboro. Admission is $7 for ages 12 and up, $3 for ages 3-11, and free for children under age 3. In case of inclement weather, the festival will be held from 1-5 p.m. May 3rd.
(written by Bett Wilson Foley, photographs taken at The Barn at Fearrington in Pittsboro, NC)