Jungle Boy Zoo / Haw River Animal CrossingClyde Jones (b. 1938)
141 The Church Rd, Pittsboro, 27312, United States
About the Artist/Site
The pride and joy of Bynum, North Carolina is celebrated annually in a festival eponymously named “ClydeFEST.” The festival sees the town gather in celebration of the arts with activities for kids and families, all in recognition of Clyde Jones: a man who inspires kids to partake in the act of creation.
Born around 1938 outside of Pittsboro, North Carolina, Jones moved to Bynum in 1956 to work at a cotton mill, eventually working as a day-laborer in construction and logging by the late sixties. During a long recovery process following a chainsaw injury, Jones began carving sculptures out of stumps and log remnants using said chainsaw. These wooden “critters” began to populate Jones’ front yard, treating passersby to the sight of a menagerie of dogs, deer, giraffes, and other mammalian creatures frequently wrapped up in Christmas lights. The critters combine the log bodies with found objects used for adornment; seashells as eyes or plastic fruit and flowers as polka-dots. No creature is ever considered truly finished according to Jones. The artist revisits his creations regularly for repainting and repositioning within the herd of other animals outside his house.
Jones’ critters multiplied in number. After the sculptures overtook Jones’ own yard, the wooden creatures began appearing on properties all over Bynum. Though Jones refuses to sell his critters, the artist donates his works to neighbors and local businesses, occasionally raffling off a critter or two for charity. Jones’ staunch refusal to sell his critters led to a widely circulated recount of the time Jones turned down an offer from internationally renowned ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Clyde Jones’ critters developed a reputation as a quintessential example of American folk art; representing the desire to engage with the artistic process without placing unneeded emphasis on the final product. By 1988, Jones’ sculptures had been featured in museums across the United States, including in San Francisco, Atlanta, and Richmond. Durham photographer Roger Manley chose Jones as the focus of his exhibition “To See What I Could Do,” a show guest-curated by Manley at Artspace. The show highlighted Jones’ paintings done indoors as opposed to his sculptures which could already be seen outside on many Bynum yards. According to Manley, the title of the show was Jones’ response to the question of why he had begun making art.
Jones’ Critters can be found all over the world, having been seen everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Smithsonian Museum in D.C. The wooden sculptures are part of the permanent collections of a variety of museums including the American Visionary Arts Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Small Museum of Folk Art, and the Gregg Museum of Art and Design.
Following the COVID19 pandemic, Jones ran into a variety of health issues that required him to temporarily relocate from his “Haw River Animal Crossing” home. Jones is expected to move back onto the property following renovations, but until then, he has been passing time by participating in meet-and-greets with loyal fans and getting seafood at his favorite local haunt, Captain John’s Dockside. Clyde is an icon in Bynum, known for his good nature and championing of the arts for the younger generation. Clyde Jones’ impact on his community is undeniable, witnessed by simply driving through the streets of Bynum, North Carolina, or by attending ClydeFEST, which in 2023 is celebrating its 21st anniversary of celebration, creativity, and critters.
~Nikki Ranney, 2023
Clyde Jones - Small Museum of Folk Art (smallmuseumfolkart.org)
Fundraiser by Stephan Meyers : Community Aid for Folk Artist Clyde Jones (gofundme.com)
logs, stumps, found objects
SPACES Archives Holdings
1 folder: correspondence, pamphlets, images
Map & Site Information
141 The Church Rd, 27312
Latitude/Longitude: 35.7860544 / -79.1455121
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