Clyde Jones has a chainsaw, paint, and a lust for whimsy that has garnered him the adoration of not only his entire community, but from some of the most important persons in the world.
Born in 1938, the Bynum, North Carolina artist has devoted the later portion of his life to creating rough-hewn wooden creatures that are now scattered all across the world, but still have a continually growing home on Jones’ front lawn. Featuring hundreds of his creations, Jones’ home is loosely known as “Clyde’s Critter Crossing” and is one of the most beloved folk art meccas in the nation. Taking found or donated wood, Jones forms his indeterminate animals by hacking simple joints and holes to join ears, legs, tails, and eyes (which are often represented by everything from baseballs to flowers). Sometimes adding a coat of paint, but often simply leaving his critters with their natural bark hides, the finished beasts get displayed all across Jones’ front lawn or donated to the select people of Jones’ choosing.
While many folk artists who adorn their homes with hoards of their work encounter resistance from the neighbors, Jones and his menagerie have been embraced by his fellow Bynum residents. Many yards and businesses in the town feature one of Jones’ works donated by the artist himself. Jones is adamant about never selling his work, only giving pieces away to those that he deems worthy.
Jones and his critters have earned fame far outside of Bynum as well, with pieces of his work residing everywhere from Taiwan to the Great Wall of China. His work is so popular among fans of outsider art that there have even been gatherings known as “Clydefest” to honor the artist.