|The Eastern shore of Nova Scotia is similar to the Puget Sound area. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|En route along the Eastern Coast of Nova Scotia. Photo by Debi Lander.|
Weather wise, like both, grey, misty, spitty and foggy with brief, very brief, glimpses of sky. Winter had come late and hard and spring is about a month behind the mid-Atlantic States. Rhododendrons, lupine and an assortment of wildflowers dot the greenswards. Rivers and streams rush from frequent rain.
Instructive, also, was our education in pronunciation.
Musquodoboit became “Musk-a-dob-it.”
Antigonesh became AN-tee-GA-nish.
Ecum Secum was EEK-uhm SEE kuhm.
|Barry Colpitts' house was a "must stop" spot. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|Debi Lander found a "ride" to try. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Eager to reach the lodge where we should have slept last night, we resist the temptation to shout “Stop!” at every good photo-op. Until I spy the resplendent cottage and yard of folk artist Barry Colpitts.
“I have to see this!” I yell.
Amazing whirligigs and statues filled the yard with wonder and whimsy. Brightly painted critters, sayings and images make the walls of his house a static theater. Life-sized Jesus, a woman walking a lobster on a leash, a pony-sized spotted cow with a bird perched on its tail that Debi tried it out.
|"Driving Slowly to Heaven."|
I had fallen in love with “Flying Slowly to Heaven,” a standing whirligig with spoons for wind catchers, Satan on top and Jesus driving a passenger below, when Barry comes ambling down from one of several workshop storage sheds.
We introduce ourselves, express admiration for his work and learn he had been at the craft for more than 20 years.
“You want to see more?” he asks.
A tall, quiet man, Barry leads us up a hill behind his house. As each shed door is opened, more wonders appear. A fanciful bird chair, its brightly colored avians in twittery, flittery movement around Barry as he sits on the remarkable throne.
|Barry on the Bird Chair. Photo by Debi Lander.|
In another, standing figures – men, women, angels, Mounties – stand like multi-colored totems.
A standing spotted cow/pig-like critter with shark-like teeth glares.
|Barry shows us the "Hand-clap Dance.|
Finally, behind a door with a “Warning, cover your wife’s eyes” sign, is the Birdman. His head is an owl, his shoulders and torso geese. His feet are giant chicken legs and where a tiny chicken head is, well, you can imagine.
I ask the price of a small piece, a yellow cat with a blue bird on its back. $45 Canadian, $40 U.S. Then I focus in on what I really want, “Flying Slowly to Heaven.”
Not for sale. Nothing outside is for sale. Hard, never changing rule.
Maybe. Maybe not. That’s the real wonder of genuine, impelled-by-an-unknown-force-to-create folk artists like Barry.
***POSTSCRIPT: After this was posted, I e-mailed Barry in care of Black Sheep Gallery (he doesn't have a computer and the gallery is nearby) and asked the owner if she would let him know how much we appreciated his work and hospitality.
Thanking her for delivering the message, I added that if he ever changed his mind about "Flying" I really was interested. Several days later she replied and said Barry would sell it!
"Flying" now has pride of place on my coffee table.