Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Artist's Studio: Thornton Dial, Sr.

In March of 2007, the Ogden Museum opened Ogun Meets Vulcan: Iron Sculptors of Alabama in H. H. Richardson's Patrick F. Taylor Library. The exhibition was realized through a successful partnership with Georgia's Tinwood Alliance, and featured the work of Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Joe Minter, Ronald Lockett and Charlie Lucas.

Prior to the exhibition, Tinwood's founder and curator, Bill Arnett, took Rick Gruber and David Houston to several of the artists' studios, including Thornton Dial. Born in 1928, Dial did not start making art in earnest until after his retirement from a career welding for the Pullman Rail Company. Since then, his work has moved beyond the realm of the "visionary" and "outsider" labels. His three dimensional work pushes the boundaries of painting and sculpture, placing him firmly in the dialogue of contemporary fine art. As Dial says, "Art ain't about paint. It ain't about canvas. It's about ideas. I have found how to get my ideas out and I won't stop. I got ten thousand left."

These shots were taken by David Houston with a Leica M5 at Thornton's home, outside of Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 2007.

Bill Arnett, Rick Gruber and Thornton Dial's brother.

1 comment:

radbear67 said...

I remember that 60 Minutes did an investigative piece about the judge who had taken over Dial's work for his own great profit, decades ago. It was treated as a serious scandal at the time, but the 60 Minutes reporter, who was merciless in his criticism of the "arrangement" the jurist had made with the artist, seemed to doubt that much could be done to rectify the obvious exploitation. One wonders what has happened since that time.